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Turkey to Conduct Military Exercises on Greek National Holiday, Breaking NATO Agreement

Turkish vessel the Oruc Reis is escorted into Greek waters by five Turkish Navay vessels on Monday, August 10. Photo: Turkish Defense Ministry

Just hours after an agreement to cancel military activities planned on each country’s respective national holidays, Turkey announced that it would go ahead with planned military exercises scheduled on Greece’s OXI Day.

This announcement breaks the moratorium announced by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Friday.

After Greece scheduled military exercises on October 29, Turkey’s Republic Day, Turkey announced its own military exercises on October 28, Greece’s OXI Day.

Both countries agreed to cancel the provocative exercises in hopes of facilitating better relations between the neighbors and NATO members.

Speaking to the international press after meeting via video conference with Greek and Turkish representatives, Stoltenberg expressed optimism about reducing tensions after military exercises were canceled by both countries.

Turkey broke the agreement hours later, however, releasing an official navigation warning (NAVTEX) for naval exercises on October 28.

For months, tensions have been boiling in the Eastern Mediterranean as Turkey has repeatedly violated the sea borders of Greece and Cyprus in search of energy reserves.

Turkish research vessels, flanked by military ships, encroached on Greek and Cypriot waters, coming very close to Greek territory on multiple occasions, stoking tensions between the countries.

Along with naval provocations came verbal ones, as Turkish leaders claimed that Greek islands close to Turkey’s mainland, such as Kastellorizo, are actually Turkish, not Greek.

After repeated attempts at diplomacy, facilitated by both NATO and the EU, Turkey has continued to provoke Greece, putting planned exploratory talks to resolve disputes between the countries at risk.

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