Admiral Kosmas Christidis, former Chief of the Hellenic Navy General Staff, spoke on the First Program of Radio Proto about the outcome of the Greek-Turkish tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean. As he explained, Turkey’s initial action to issue an irregular Navtex brought the Greek Navy on full alert within 48 hours.
“Our reaction is somewhat reminiscent of 1987. Let me remind you that back then the Turkish President Özal himself had appeared in the media, stating: «Ιf it’s gonna be a war, is gonna be his fault». The move made by the Greek Navy, by Greece as a whole, was a very strong reaction resulting in Kalın being taken by surprise and stating that « it was an overreaction». Our reaction was normal” he stressed.
The tactic that should be followed, Admiral Christidis added, is the tactic of deterrence. “ It’s not a question of sinking the Hora or the Oruc Reis, but of making Turkey understand that their actions are not to be tolerated. Within this said logic, there are various different reactions” he pointed out.
“Between the messages that Turkish movements inside the Greek continental shelf/EEZ are not acceptable and the command to sink the Hora, there are at least 20 successive stages recorded by the Greek Navy”.
“If the Turks insist, we should also insist that this is not acceptable. In my opinion, the Turks will indeed insist, but our obligation is to give them the feeling that we, as Greeks, have a strong will to deter them”.
Admiral Christidis spoke about military cooperation in the region and stressed the need to move from the Single Defense Doctrine (Greece-Cyprus) to the Single Doctrine of the Eastern Mediterranean with the involvement of other powers such as France, Israel and Egypt. It must be forged in our souls that we are indeed determined to move forward. “
When asked to comment on whether there is a risk in the coming years of the balance of power in the Aegean and the existing superiority of the Greek naval forces against Turkey being overturned, Mr. Christidis said “ For many years, Greece had not invested resources in the armed forces, especially during the memorandum era. But I never believed in numbers. I am not bellicose, but let me say this: The missiles owned by the Greeks (Greece – Cyprus) can sink the Turkish fleet twice.
We are very well trained. There should be no concern, but the devaluation of the armed forces regarding the refusal to invest in Defense by Greece and Cyprus means that we are seeking a diplomatic solution. Otherwise, there may have been talks – like the Zurich-London agreements- in order to resolve our disputes in a certain way, which was proven disastrous in the past.”
Regarding the convening of KYSEA (Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence), he said that it is convened when the situation is considered critical, but this does not automatically imply the militarization of the crisis.
“ Certainly, when KYSEA is convened in the HNDGS (Hellenic National Defense General Staff) there is a great concern, but that doesn’t mean that we should be worried. Unless the philosophy of the political leadership is oriented towards an Imia-like situation”, he said.