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Tensions between Greece and Turkey: Greece announces military upswing

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis gives his annual speech on the state of the country

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Image descriptionThe Greek Prime Minister announced plans to increase the number of soldiers

Greece has announced a major arms purchase as tensions with neighboring Turkey mount.

The new weapons include 18 French Rafale fighter jets, four frigates and four naval helicopters, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said.

The country also plans to increase the size of its armed forces by 15,000 soldiers over the next five years.

Tensions between Greece and Turkey over gas reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean have increased.

Turkey recently sent ships to conduct seismic surveys to intensify a dispute with Greece over the territory.

NATO’s two allies have competing claims to maritime rights, leading to fears that tensions could escalate further.

The European Union, of which Greece is a member, previously called for dialogue.

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“It’s time to step up the armed forces … these initiatives represent a robust program that will become a national shield,” Mitsotakis said on Saturday.

Spending also includes new anti-tank weapons, naval torpedoes, and air force missiles.

The new editions are the largest in two decades, reports the AFP news agency.

France has supported Greece in its dispute with Turkey, and earlier this week President Emmanuel Macron stressed the importance of being “clear and firm” with Turkey, which he accused of “unacceptable behavior”.

What is the background?

In July Turkey announced that it would send a research vessel to carry out a drilling survey in waters near the Greek island of Kastellorizo, not far from the coast of southwest Turkey.

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Image descriptionThe Oruc Reis is accompanied by Turkish naval vessels in a photo taken by the Ministry of Defense

In response, Greece conducted naval exercises with a number of EU countries and the United Arab Emirates.

Tensions between the two countries have been weighed down by various other issues, including the divided island of Cyprus and the crossing of migrants from Turkey to Greece.

Greece also opposed Turkey’s recent decision to convert the Hagia Sophia Museum in Istanbul back into a mosque. It was an Orthodox Christian cathedral for centuries.

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Media signatureCyprus has been a divided island for more than 40 years.

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