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Aegean tensions threaten NATO unity – Middle East Monitor

For the first time in its long history, NATO’s cohesion is under threat as a result of a rift between two NATO members. Turkey and Greece and their operations in the Aegean Sea.Recent crisis between the two started in august Turkiye accused neighbors of locking onto Turkish fighter jets with a Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft missile system deployed on Crete.Ankara also accused Greek pilots of flying over the eastern Mediterranean during a NATO mission They put Turkish aircraft under radar lock and claimed that Greek planes had harassed them. exercising.

Ankara on Tuesday summoned the Greek ambassador to denounce Greece before protesting to Washington. Deployment of US armored vehicles Two islands in the Aegean Sea near the Turkish coast. However, Greece said the move was “completely baseless” and condemned Turkey’s aggressive actions.

In the broader international context, the rift between Turkiye and Greece comes as NATO focuses on presenting a united front against Russia in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Russia’s war directly affected NATO’s unity and priorities. In failing to address tensions in the Aegean Sea, differences between NATO members have revealed a rift that Russia’s Vladimir Putin is eager to capitalize on.

One of the main triggers for the confrontation between Turkey and Greece is that both are heading to vote in next year’s crucial elections. Turkish President Recep Taib Erdogan is said to face a major challenge to his 20-year rule amid the country’s economic woes and immigration problems. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has reportedly lost some popularity due to rising energy prices partly due to the war in Ukraine. In both cases, the leader is playing to an internal audience in terms of patriotism.

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Erdogan said earlier this week at Technofest, Turkiye’s largest aviation and aerospace festival: Defeated in 1922 by Greek forces occupied in the western city.

In retaliation, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias asked NATO, its EU partners and the UN to formally condemn what he described as “outrageous and increasingly offensive statements by Turkish officials”. Appealed.

As mediator, the US is trying to find a balance between Greece and Turkiye. However, Turkiye’s agreement with Russia for the purchase of Moscow’s S-400 defense system changed the balance in 2017. That led to a five-year extension to the bilateral military agreement with Greece, which was ratified by the Greek parliament in the summer. The US also canceled a contract to supply Turkiye with her F-35 fighter jets.

This came when Greek Defense Minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos visited the Pentagon in July and met with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, where the two discussed expanding defense partnerships between Washington and Athens. and discussed close cooperation based on defense modernization. According to a Pentagon statement.

Regarding the F-35 deal, the NATO and US concern is not Turkiye. In a broader sense, their common enemy is Russia. It has been three years since Turkiye received her S-400 system, but has yet to activate it in order to protect NATO’s defense systems and unity. But this is not enough to maintain a sustainable peace in the Aegean conflict. In the evolving Ankara-Athens-Washington triangle, the United States should strike the balance in a fair way to protect NATO cohesion.

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The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20220930-aegean-sea-tensions-threaten-nato-s-unity/ Aegean tensions threaten NATO unity – Middle East Monitor

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