Report: Greece’s Unlikely Compellence | Air Force Modernization & Diplomatic Assertiveness

Due to the current uncertain trajectory of Greek military modernization, this paper discusses the strategic logic that guides its armament and diplomatic activism rather than a measurement of the emerging balance of power. In line with its compellence strategy, Greece wants to command the Aegean Sea and to deny the Eastern Mediterranean Sea to Turkey.

After a decade-long financial crisis, Greece recently initiated a comprehensive military modernization program. The country has undertaken a significant upgrade of its air force inventory and is purchasing new fighter jets. Beside arms build-up, Greece is working hard to expand its alliance network in the Middle East while increasing its anti-Turkish pressure campaign across Europe and the United States. Although this policy has peaked recently, it is not a new phenomenon in the Greek security mindset. Originating from the so-called “Turkish threat”, this twofold effort has become the foundational element of Greek foreign and security strategies since Turkey’s Cyprus Peace Operation in 1974.

Recent Greek military modernization and diplomatic activism is a clear demonstration of its decades-old compellence strategy, rather than a deterrence which its official discourse claims. If it were a policy of deterrence, it is consistently failing because Greece also claims that the regional status-quo is always changing, against its national interests, in favor of Turkey. Its strong emphasis on deterrence, in fact, belies its real strategy, one that is designed not to deter Turkey by dissuading it from taking a specific action but rather force it to renounce something that is already in process. In contemporary geopolitics, contrary to Greek demands, Turkey has been conducting seismic research, in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean Seas, under the protection of its navy and air force.

Against this backdrop, Greece wants to boost its offensive capabilities, expand the number of its allies, and ensure an international embargo on Turkey to force the latter to back down from its vital interests in the region. Greek decision-makers expect that they would enhance their resolve and credibility by investing in air power, building an anti-Turkish regional bloc, and an antagonistic West towards Turkey. By doing so, Greece wants to manipulate Turkey’s perception of costs and benefits, to decrease its resolve and commitment, and ultimately to win without a fight.

Due to the current uncertain trajectory of Greek military modernization, this paper discusses the strategic logic that guides its armament and diplomatic activism rather than a measurement of the emerging balance of power. In line with its compellence strategy, Greece wants to command the Aegean Sea and to deny the Eastern Mediterranean Sea to Turkey. However, due to the structural restraints over its military modernization, and the limits on its diplomatic influence, it is unlikely to achieve the credible compellence to meet its excessive political objectives.

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