Greece must bolster defence industries to narrow gap with Turkey – Kathimerini

Greece must make significant and rapid progress to bolster its state-run defence industries and narrow the gap with Turkey, Greek newspaper Kathimerini’s executive editor Alexis Papachelas said in an article published on Monday.

Turkey responded to the embargo on the sale of military equipment placed on it by the U.S. Congress after its 1974 invasion of Cyprus by creating its own arms industry. Greece, however, has lagged far behind during the past four decades, Papachelas said.

Ankara and Athens have several long-running disputes in the Aegean Sea, involving the extent of territorial waters, airspace and the countries’ continental shelves. The scramble for gas off the divided island of Cyprus is also stoking tensions between the NATO allies. 

Nicosia and Athens disagree with Ankara’s claims to drilling rights in the region. Turkey, the only nation to recognise Northern Cyprus, maintains that attempts by Cyprus to conduct gas exploration are a violation of the rights of the Turkish part of the island.

Athens should seize the opportunity presented by Israeli and American companies that are interested in buying or partnering with state-owned companies to implement significant upgrades and acquisition programmes, Papachelas said. 

The United States in October signed a revised mutual defence cooperation agreement with Greece, in a move analysts maintain will elevate Athens' strategic value and lead to U.S. investments in Greek military facilities.

The Greek armed forces, hit by steep budget cuts during the country’s long-running debt crisis, are set to benefit from the deal.