Turkish, Greek navy join NATO drill in East Med

Turkish, Greek navy join NATO drill in East Med

Turkish, Greek navy join NATO drill in East Med

The Turkish and Greek navies have joined a NATO maritime exercise in the eastern Mediterranean amid a visible improvement in ties between the two neighboring states who have recently been at odds over overlapping territorial claims in the Aegean and Mediterranean.

The Turkish and Greek military assets, including jetfighters and frigates, joined the NATO’s Neptune Strike 23-2 military drill in the Mediterranean, the alliance said in a statement on July 18.

“A total of four ships from Greece, Türkiye and the U.K. seamlessly integrated into a defensive multi-national NATO force, whilst the fighter jets fulfilled the roles of both friendly and hostile forces,” read the statement.

“This created a realistic and challenging operational scenario for the task group. The combined force of fighter jets included Hellenic Air Force F16s, Turkish Air Force F16s, and Royal Air Force Typhoons, whilst a Royal Air Force Voyager provided air-to-air refueling,” added the alliance.

Greece’s frigate HS Limnos, the Turkish frigates TCG Gökçeada and TCG Göksu, and the British destroyer HMS Duncan joined the drill and demonstrated their capability and interoperability, proving they are ready to defend themselves and the task group from real-world airborne threats.

“Bringing this number of military assets together to operate seamlessly is an impressive demonstration of the strength that comes from combining individual national capabilities into a far greater, integrated, and effective, multi-national force,” the Commander of Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2), Royal Navy Commodore Paul Stroude, said.

According to the Greek media, the scenario for this military exercise has been shaped deliberately for increasing the coordination and dialogue between the Turkish and Greek military.

“Usually, when Greek and Turkish forces take part in the same NATO exercise, their interactions are much more simple, such as certain maneuvers or refueling. This time, Greek frigate Limnos, Turkish frigates Gökçeada and Göksu, six Greek F-16s and U.K. destroyer HMS Duncan were involved in a scenario involving the interception and defense against hostile fighters,” read the Greek newspaper, Kathimerini, in its English version.

Türkiye and Greece have suffered from tension especially in 2019 and 2020 as the maritime boundaries the two countries have drawn in the eastern Mediterranean overlapped. In addition, the two countries have multiple problems in the Aegean Sea.

A meeting between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on the sidelines of the NATO Summit in Vilnius is seen as the start of a new term between the two countries. The two leaders have agreed to hold a high-level cooperation meeting in Thessaloniki this fall.