Posted on May 22, 2020
In a disturbing escalation of recent tensions along the Turko-Greek border, around three dozen Turkish soldiers and what are described as "police special forces" have occupied Greek territory on the eastern side of the Evros River alongside the village of Melissokomeio.
The Turkish flag is, at the time of writing, flying over Greek territory.
Tensions have been running high recently with cross-border fire being exchanged, and interceptions of Turkish combat aircraft inside Greek airspace.
Whilst it is unclear at present what may be the "justification" for the illegal encroachment, the area is in the shadow of the security fence which has been subject to heavy and repeated attempts by Syrian refugees to cross the border from Turkey into Greece. Turkey's hard-line leader Recep Erdogan has in recent weeks threatened to "send millions of refugees to Europe".
Thus far, Greece has managed to maintain the integrity of the border.
Another factor is that the small area of land that has been occupied is disputed by Turkey, which claims it as its own.
The two countries, both NATO members, appear to have been squaring up in recent years, with tensions leading to Turkey courting Putin's Russia as a potential supplier of arms, and questions being raised as to desirability of keeping the country in the 30-nation military alliance.
Strategically, Turkey is vital to NATO given its location. Russia already has a strong military presence in Syria, with troops, aircraft, naval facilities and significant air defences well established inside Moscow's only significant client state in the region at present.
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