In fact, Turkey has shown that it has overtaken Greece, that it has become a greater regional power and is pursuing a regional policy in cooperation with global players. Therefore, we can say with confidence that Greece has ceased to be a regional competitor of Turkey. In this regard, Greece is constantly trying to contain Turkey through players such as Israel, Russia, the United States and the European Union. To this end, Greece has begun to lead the development of projects bypassing Turkey, mainly in the Eastern Mediterranean.
On the other hand, Turkey has taken steps to thwart plans to block it. In this regard, Turkey has sent ships to the region for oil and gas exploration, signed an agreement on maritime borders with Libya and conducted large-scale military exercises in the region. However, Greece is not abandoning its old habits, continues to cause concern in Turkey and attracts other regional and global players in this direction. Especially after Turkey’s recent notification through the NAVTEX system in the Eastern Mediterranean and the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque, Greece’s anti-Turkish moves have become more frequent. The final step in these steps was a proposal addressed to the United States to establish a military base in Alexandroupolis, and a positive response from Washington.
Alexandroupolis is one of the important port cities of Greece near the border with Turkey (about 30 km). After Greece made a proposal to the United States to establish a military base in that city, the press reported that the United States was willing to send troops there. Although it may seem that the event only affects these two countries, in reality it will have regional consequences. And most of all, this event will naturally affect Turkey.
On July 23, US Ambassador to Greece Jeffrey Payette and Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panayotopoulos visited the port of Alexandroupolis and opened a base on the one hand and controlled the movement of US troops on the other. US officials have cited NATO exercises as a reason for the concentration of military and armed forces in Alexandroupolis. The United States has taken the first steps toward establishing a naval and air base in Alexandroupolis. Helicopters, military vehicles and ammunition were stationed in the city.
Alexandroupolis’ proximity to the Turkish border shows that Turkey needs to be especially vigilant about the event. First, the city of Alexandroupolis is part of a 30-kilometer zone that must remain demilitarized. The establishment of a military base here could pose a threat to the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus. As the militarization of the Straits is prohibited by international treaties, the creation of a military base is also contrary to international law.
Secondly, it is important that Alexandroupolis is located in Western Thrace. It connects Turkey with Xanthi and Komotini, other large cities in western Thrace, densely populated by the Turkish minority. So the creation of the base implies the emergence of a kind of military buffer zone between Turkey and these two important cities.
Third, the United States, which is withdrawing its troops from Germany, has announced that some of them will be stationed in Eastern and Southeastern Europe and, as it turns out, including Greece. By increasing its presence in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean, the United States seeks to balance Russia’s influence in the region.
Fourth, the creation of the base can be seen as a move that will reduce the strategic value of the Turkish Straits by creating a new line Alexandroupolis – Bulgaria – Romania. In this way, the United States will need less Turkey to compete with Russia and can therefore more easily take the position of Greece.
Translation and editing: Ivan Hristov
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