Crete at center of converging, conflicting interests for Turkey, Greece in Eastern Mediterranean
Greek Minister of Defense Nikos Panagiotopoulos has announced plans to create a new Hellenic naval base on Crete as Greece leverages its southernmost island as a pillar of security policy in the Eastern Mediterranean amid ongoing tensions with Turkey.
Periklis Zorzovilis, head of the Athens-based Institute for Security and Defense Analysis, told Al-Monitor that from a geostrategic standpoint, the increasing militarization of Crete is well placed.
“The most important island for Greek security in the Eastern Mediterranean is Crete because it contains established military infrastructure and it is located in a very central geographic position,” he said.
The move comes as Greece’s Arab partners, who share the Hellenic country’s concerns over Turkish aggression, are drawn to the island as well.
Last year, Egypt took part in the “Medusa 9” naval, air and special forces exercises held on Crete with Greek and Cypriot counterparts. In August, the United Arab Emirates dispatched four F-16 fighter jets to the island for joint training with the Hellenic Air Force.
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