Abstract

The March 1987 Greek-Turkish crisis over the Aegean Sea continental shelf is considered, together with the January 1996 crisis on the sovereignty of the Imia Islets, the most serious incident in Greek-Turkish confrontations to date. Despite the conventional academic and media wisdom on the Turkish "threat" (απειλή) during the 1987 crisis and successful Greek "deterrence" (αποτροπή), the author, citing key military intelligence and diplomatic officials, proves that Hellenic military intelligence assessed as low the Turkish operational military threat to the Greek armed forces in the Aegean. Surprisingly, while the Hellenic Navy mobilized the majority of the fleet, Ankara did not feel threatened by the possibility of a Greek military offensive. In response, the Turkish side used only aggressive rhetoric, but the Ankara generals decided against actual conflict with Athens. The author argues that since in 1987 there was no potential of a Greek-Turkish confrontation in the Aegean and no Turkish operational threat, the Greek show of force did not amount to deterrence. In order to deter a military threat there has to be aggressive military presence in time and place, not just boastful nationalistic rhetoric by the opponent.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3265
Print ISSN
0738-1727
Pages
pp. 99-127
Launched on MUSE
2007-07-09
Open Access
No
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