Turkey and Greece, rivals, meet for a NATO exercise in the Mediterranean

ISTANBUL (AP) — Amid an escalating war of words between Turkey and Greece over disputes in the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas, the two countries met on Tuesday to take part in an annual naval exercise of the NATO.

The historic regional neighbors and rivals are among 12 alliance members participating in the Dynamic Mariner-Mavi Balina 22 off the west coast of Turkey.

Relations between Turkey and Greece have deteriorated recently. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a thinly veiled threat of invasion a week ago when he said Turkey could “come suddenly one night” in response to perceived Greek threats.

The neighbors have decades-old disputes over a range of issues, including territorial claims in the Aegean and Mediterranean and disagreements over airspace limits. They have been on the brink of war three times in the last half century.

Ankara claims Greece is violating international agreements by militarizing islands near its coastline, arguing that Greek sovereignty could be challenged if the alleged violations continue. She also accused Greek air defenses of locking in on Turkish warplanes during NATO drills.

Greece has complained about Turkey’s rhetoric to NATO, the European Union and the United Nations. Athens says it must defend its eastern islands against its larger and militarily stronger neighbor.

He also accused the Turkish military of repeatedly violating Greek airspace and waters.

NATO announced the start of the joint exercise from the Aksaz naval base near the Mediterranean resort of Marmaris. War Games runs until September 22.

“Dynamic Mariner is an incredibly important large-scale maritime exercise,” said French Vice Admiral Didier Piaton, Deputy Commander NATO Allied Maritime Command.

“This year’s event includes more assets than ever before, facilitating increased interoperability between our nations and improving operational readiness. We continue to work closely with Turkey and other allies and partners to deter aggression and defend the alliance.

The exercise includes 50 ships, five submarines, five aircraft and 1,500 marines and other personnel.

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