The government in Athens has upgraded its defences, primarily against its long-lasting adversary Turkey, and it has signed a historic $1.68 billion agreement with Israel on Tuesday that provides for the procurement of ten state-of-the-art jet fighting and training of pilots.
The agreement to be signed by both sides over the coming weeks is the most critical defence since Athens began changing its pro-Arab outlook and position some twenty years ago in the Middle East.
Costas Filis, a professor of international relations in Athens said “The Israelis do not trust easily, especially in the field of defence.”
“So, this deal is not only important for the qualitative edge it will give Greece’s new generation of pilots and armed forces as a whole, but because of the serious message it puts out – that a solid and new depth of relations has been consolidated between Athens and Jerusalem.” he added.
Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz said the deal would “serve the interests of both Israel and Greece, creating hundreds of jobs in both countries … promoting stability in the Mediterranean.”
In recent years, the Greeks have leased Israeli drones, primarily commissioning them along the Egyptian waterway, which separates both neighbouring states but acts as their major gateways to illegally migrating into Europe for enforcing its porous borders with Turkey.
Turkey, which has sent survey ships in the recent months, exploring unspilt energy potential in areas where Greece claims to have exclusive rights to exploit, is largely opposed to the deal on energy and the other countries girding the oil- and gas-rich region.
NATO allies Greece and Turkey have long contested air and sea rights of each other in the area as it was only 25 years ago at the edge of the war against an uninhabited island in the Egean. From then on ties have been seen, in reaction to the energy disaster in the eastern Mediterranean, to the lowest level in recent months.
Moreover, back in November, Israel Defence Minister Benny Gantz met and agreed to improve military coordination with his Greek and Cypriot counterparts that would better prepare their armed forces, help create employment and foster stability in a divided country.
Gantz said it was agreed during talks in Nicosia, Cyprus, to “promote large-scale industry cooperation that will bolster our defence abilities and create thousands of jobs for all three economies.”
Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos said that joint training projects, information sharing and cybersecurity would operate together in a more productive manner.
The three countries are looking for extended partnerships to include other countries like the U.S. whose role the Greek minister along with Charalambos Petrides of Cyprus has said to be of particular significance to regional stability.
The government in Athens has announced plans to buy a range of new warplanes, frigates, helicopters, and weapons systems from sources like the United States and France, with tensions still high with Turkey.
Strategic cornering of Turkey is taking shape and newer ties between Israel and Greece and Cyprus is another blow to Turkish ambitions in the region.
Even India is playing its part in a bid to corner Turkey, its Memorandum of Understanding in the field of defence co-operation with Morocco have wrong-footed Turkey in the region. In addition to this, India’s significant relations with Greece and Cyprus are also empowering these states against Turkey.
Saudi Arabia, turkey’s direct rival in the Islamic world has also played its card and has been influential in limiting Turkey’s outreach and influence in the Middle East.
Even Qatar has moved away from the Turks to have a better shot at diplomatic relations with the Saudis and the rest of the Middle East including Egypt, Bahrain, and the UAE.
Moreover, the Turkish president’s popularity has gradually declined. Erdogan has been dovetailing his country into the worst economic disaster and from the looks of it; the country’s youth has had enough of this wannabe caliph. Youths from Turkey have been at arms with the Erdogan government and are leading a protesting against their President. Hundreds of university students have been protesting in Istanbul for three days, as per WION News reports.
Thus, it is safe to assume that with a domestic crisis to cater to and being cornered all around the border, Turkey’s influence has been severely limited. But now with Israel actively engaging in the region, it seems the days for Erdogan are limited as the states surrounding turkey are fed up with the loopy President Erdogan and are dismantling Turkey’s influence Brick by Brick.