Turkey developed a plan to invade Greece during the height of the war in Syria, according to leaked documents. The documents also included plans to invade Armenia.
The plans that were drawn up were named after an 11th century Turkish military commander, according to Nordic Monitor, who have seen the documents.
The documents were reportedly part of a PowerPoint presentation that was set to be given by the Turkish General Staff – who preside over the Armed Forces in Turkey – for internal planning review.
Greece and Turkey are old enemies and have a long history of violence, fighting a number of wars against one-another, particularly in the early 1900s.
The plans are believed to have centred around maintaining offensive and deterrence capabilities on the western front, while moving troops during the war in Syria.
Anti-Greek rhetoric has been growing in Ankara as the Erdoğan reigeme looks to bolster its influence in the area, as fears of a military confrontation between the two NATO allies are escalating.
Pictured: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (centre) attends High Advisory Board meeting at the Presidential Complex in Ankara, Turkey on June 16, 2020
Titled ‘TSK Çakabey Harekât Planlama Direktifi’ – TSK (Turkish Armed Forces) Çakabey Operation Planning Directive – the presentation was dated June 13, 2014 at the height of the Syrian civil war that started in 2011 as part of the Arab Spring.
The Nordic Monitor reported that this suggests that the plan was likely an updated version and finalised after a review of an earlier draft, and that the plan could still be active.
The documents also included a plan to invade Armenia called ‘TSK Altay Harekât Planlama Direktifi,’ dated August 15 2000.
The Monitor reported that the documents were exchanged on a secure email system by top General Staff, and that they appear to have been leaked accidentally in a court case file that was submitted as part of probes into the failed military coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in July 2016.
Prosecutor Serdar Coşkun – said to be a Erdoğan loyalist – submitted the files as part of the investigation, and was required to hand over all emails from the General Staff from the two months preceding the coup attempted to prosecutors.
Upon realising their potential mistake, the General Staff reportedly panicked, asking the court to allow them to screen the documents before being presented. According to The Monitor, prosecutors ignored these concerns.
However, while the plans were named in the documents, further specific details were not included. This is likely due to their classified nature, and therefore not shared through the private network.
The plans are believed to have been contingencies around developments in Syria with the aim of maintaining offensive and deterrence capabilities on the western front, while moving troops, The Monitor reported.
More recently the two countries have fought over Cyprus in the 1970s and came close to military hostilities during the Aegean dispute in 1987 and 1996 which has strongly affected the relations between Greece and Turkey since.
They share a border in the east of Greece and the west of Turkey, but also the Aegean sea.
Turkey also shares a border with Armenia in the east, on the opposite side of the country to Greece. Armenia and Turkey also have a history of hostility, and official relations are non-existent.
A map showing the borders Turkey shares with Greece in the west and Armenia in the east. Leaked documents showing plans to invade both Greece and Armenia have been revealed
Anti-Greek rhetoric has increased under Erdogan’s reigeme, pictured on June 14 2020, during opening ceremony of the 3rd runway of Istanbul Airport
The inspiration for the name comes from Çaka Bey, better known as Chaka Bey and Tzachas, who was originally a commander under the Byzantine Empire, before he rebelled and began conquering land.
He is a much revered figure in Turkey, and is even seen as the founder of the first modern Turkish navy.
Anti-Greek rhetoric has become more robust in Turkey under the Erdoğan regime, with some maintaining that Greek islands – including Crete, Rhodes and Lesbos – belong to Turkey, that has increased demands that Greece demilitarises these islands.
Greeks will likely see the newly leaked reports as a warning sign that doing so would not be safe.
Last Wednesday, a Greek navy ship attempted to inspect a cargo ship off the coast of Libya, but the Turkish military escort denied them access.
Meanwhile, Greece has also objected Turkish plans to drill in 24 locations in the Mediterranean Sea that it considers Greek territory.
In a statement, Greece’s Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias warned that Athens would retaliate if the drilling was to begin.
In 2019, the Erdoğan regime announced its support for turning the Hagia Sophia a large museum and former Greek orthodox cathedral in Istanbul – back into a mosque.
Pictured: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis give joint statements in Jerusalem, Tuesday, June 16, 2020. Both countries reportedly share concerns about Turkey’s intentions in the region
This was announced in response to US Preside Donald Trump recognising Israeli sovereignty of the Golan Heights and east Jerusalem.
Greek Foreign Minister George Katrougalos criticized Erdoğan’s remarks at the time, saying: ‘Any questioning of this status is not just an insult to the sentiments of Christians, it is an insult to the international community and international law.’
Turkey has been attempting to bolster its sphere of influence in the region in recent years, particularly with its involvement in the conflicts in Syria and Lybia.
However, experts do not believe any conflict will see military action. Arab News reported on Saturday that Paul Antonopoulos, an expert on Turkish-Greek relations, believes the situation will remain a war of words.
‘Since Greece won its independence from the Ottoman Empire, there have been four major wars between the Greeks and Turks, with Greece always being the one to first declare the war. Athens has already said it does not want war but will only respond to Turkish-initiated aggression,’ he told the news outlet.
He added: ‘It is unlikely that Erdogan will declare war, especially as Turkey is militarily over-extended in Syria and Libya and is facing an economic crisis.’
Israeli PM sets August target date to open skies to flight
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his Greek counterpart Tuesday he hoped to open Israel’s skies as soon as August after a prolonged closure due to the coronavirus, and that Greece would be among the first destinations for Israeli tourists.
The visit by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis marked his first overseas post-corona trip and the first official state visit of any foreign leader to Israel since the pandemic broke out several months ago, signaling the close ties between the Mediterranean neighbors.
Greece is among the most popular tourist destinations for Israelis, and Netanyahu said that August 1 would be the ‘target date’ for resuming travel.
‘Greece and Cyprus will be the first points of destination,’ he said. ‘This is contingent to what happens in terms of the numbers of the epidemic whether we keep it under control. But, if we are satisfied with the numbers then what we would like to do is target Aug. 1 as the date of the opening of the skies.’
Israel generally weathered the pandemic well and began opening up last month. But it has seen a steady rise in cases since then, raising fears that restrictions may be reapplied. Overall, the country has recorded nearly 20,000 cases, of which more than 15,000 have recovered, and 300 deaths. Greece also fared better than many of its fellow European countries.
Israel and Greece have strong economic ties and have grown even closer in recent years following the discovery of natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. They are also aligned politically over their shared concerns about Turkey’s regional ambitions.
‘I set out what I consider our view to be regarding Turkey’s aggressive behavior in the Eastern Mediterranean. We consider this activity to be a threat to regional peace and stability,’ Mitsotakis said noting a Turkish military exercise last week near Libya.