Alexandroupolis is straining Turkey’s nerves – The first NATO soldiers arrive in Strdos “Giannouli”

The Giannouli camp, twenty kilometers from the Greek-Turkish border, is ready to welcome the first NATO soldiers in a few weeks


There is a constant irritation of the Turks about what is happening lately in Alexandroupolis. It is not only that tanks and other war material being promoted to the Balkans are constantly being unloaded from monstrous transport helicopters at its port, but because the first NATO base in the region is being prepared. The Giannouli camp in Alexandroupoli is ready to welcome the first NATO soldiers in a few weeks. This camp is located just 20 kilometers (in a straight line) from the Greek-Turkish border. There is no other NATO base so close to Turkey and this is the reason why it irritates Ankara.

And her irritation manifests itself by provoking in the Aegean with violations, with violations of air traffic rules with overflights and (very often lately) with virtual air battles, such as the one that recently occurred over Kastellorizo. After all, there are not a few times that Recep Tayyip Erdogan refers to the “American base” (as he calls it) in Alexandroupoli, which, as he says, is close to Turkey and he addresses a question not only for Athens but also for Washington to hear. “what do Americans need such a base?”.

“The US army in Alexandroupolis is bothering us.” This was stated a few days ago by the Turkish retired admiral Jihat Yayci, architect of the “Blue Homeland” doctrine, but also of the Turkish-Libyan memorandum. The reason for his statements was the gathering of US forces in the port of Alexandroupolis, as part of an allied exercise. The admiral in question is annoyed because, as he claims, Joe Biden is “friendly to Greece”.

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“Souda of the North” was what GETHA Chief General Konstantinos Floros called Alexandroupoli, while the American senator and chairman of the (powerful) Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Robert Menendez visited it (together with the American ambassador George Tsunis) inspecting its facilities. From Alexandroupoli, the US senator wanted to make statements condemning the violations of the national airspace, but also Turkey’s intention to procure another array of Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missiles, saying that in this way Turkey will be excluded from the F-16 upgrade program. Just yesterday, at the meeting that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis had in Maximos with the member of the US House of Representatives John Sarbani, there was talk about Greece which has emerged as a pillar of stability, security, but also (especially for Alexandroupolis) “a hub transport in the wider area”.

The Turks are so concerned about what is happening in Alexandroupolis, that on May 20 they sent a pair of F-16 fighters, which after violating the national airspace, flew at a distance of 2.5 nm. from Alexandroupoli, while making an overflight to the rocky island of Zourafa. This challenge was not by chance, since on the one hand the Turks wanted to see the Greek reaction when their aircraft approached Alexandroupoli and on the other hand in the area where the Turkish F-16s flew, in a few months (according to government sources) the floating LNG regasification unit that will reach the Balkans.

At the same time, the fact that ships with war material from many NATO countries (except Turkey, of course) constantly arrive at the port of Alexandroupolis does not go unnoticed in Turkish military diplomacy. For example, May 21, 2022 will be recorded in the memory of the residents of Alexandroupoli as a “D DAY”. It was Saturday when the giant “USS Arlington” of the US Navy docked at the port and the “landing” of more than a thousand marines, as well as combat helicopters, tanks and other important military equipment, began. At the end of August, a ship of the Italian navy is expected to arrive in Alexandroupoli.

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Another giant American carrier is expected to arrive in September to load and unload munitions. The British have installed a permanent military adviser in the port, so will all NATO countries.

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