The Breeze 2012 Naval Exercise Starts Tomorrow

M-501 TCG Finike will take part in naval exercise Sea Breeze 2012

According to Sofia News Agency, the Bulgarian Navy will host the Breeze 2012 naval drills in the Western Black Sea.

The Breeze 2012 training will take place June 22-July 1, 2012, with the southern Bulgarian Black Sea port of Burgas serving as a base.

The goal of Breeze 2012 will be to improve the interoperability of multinational naval forces of NATO nations.

It will feature participation by the Bulgarian Navy, the Turkish Navy, the Greek Navy, a US patrol air plane, and three ships from the Second Permanent Naval Group of NATO.

During the Breeze 2012 drills, the Bulgarian frigate Drazki will have its NATO MAREVAL certification affirmed.

Turkish Navy announced participation of the following vessels to the Sea Breeze 2012. One Turkish frigate currently assigned to SNMG-2 will also take part.

Number
Name
Type
S-355 TCG 18 Mart Submarine
P-340 TCG Doğan Fast Attack Craft
P-343 TCG Volkan Fast Attack Craft
M-500 TCG Foça Mine Hunter
M-501 TCG Finike Mine Hunter
A-571 TCG Albay Hakkı Burak Tanker

USS Enterprise In Piraeus

USS Enterprise (left) and USS Vicksburg (right) in Pireus.
Photo: enkripto.com

The US Navy aircraft carrier CVN-65 USS Enterprise arrived in Piraeus for a 3 day visit.

The renowned aircraft carrier is conducting her last deployment. She is scheduled for decommissioning on 1 December 2012. She arrived in Greece with Ticonderoga class cruiser CG-69 USS Vicksburg. This may be the last time for both ships to spend in Piraeus. Like USS Enterprise this is the last deployment for USS Vicksburg too. She will be deactivated in 2013.

The Enterprise Carrier Strike Group is comprised of CVN-65 USS Enterprise, Carrier Air Wing 1, Destroyer Squadron 2, USS Vicksburg (CG 69), and guided-missile destroyers DDG -78 USS Porter, DDG-94 USS Nitze, and DDG -95  USS James E. Williams.

The Situation In The Eastern Mediterranean (Part 7)

It is time again for another installment for a updates of the situation in Eastern Mediterranean:

In September Israel signed a security cooperation agreement with Greece, amid declining relations with Turkey. This was followed by the approval of a Greek Parliament committee to the purchase Rafael-made Spice 1000 and 2000 bomb precision upgrade kits at a cost of $155 million for 400 systems from Israel.

The official relations between the two countries is quite news but gets warmer by each passing day. Israeli defense minister Mr. Barak visited Athens last week.

Traditionally pro-Arab Greece, which did not officially recognize Israel until 1991, has stepped up efforts to attract investment and expertise to shore up its debt-struck economy.

The two countries are trying to “make up for lost time”, Greek Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said, asserting Greece’s “commitment to deepening the alliance with Israel … in the name of friendship, peace and stability for all the peoples of the region”.

He said their cooperation was “honest and sincere (and) not directed against anyone”, in a reference to Turkey, formerly a staunch ally of Israel but now on deteriorating terms with the Jewish state.

Athens is keenly interested in Israel’s economic rapprochement with traditional Greek ally Cyprus to develop undersea gas deposits in the eastern Mediterranean.

The emphasis is mine.

Three months after this agreement, Israel will sign two accords with Bulgaria, during a two-day visit of the Bulgarian Defense Minister, starting tomorrow. It seems as if Israel is trying to increase its ability to influence Turkey’s neighbors. Well Israel is free to make deals with any country it feels suitable. But no other country in the region has the economic strength or strategic depth of Turkey. But the power struggle between the major countries of this regions seems to continue.

Anu Angelov will ink a deal on increasing cooperation on military training and another on closer ties between the two countries’ armaments industries, the Bulgarian defense ministry said.

The defence industry is an important employer in Bulgaria, exporting $380 million (300 million euros) worth of arms in 2011, according to a newspaper report, although the sector is a 10th of the size of during Soviet times.

Bulgaria and Israel enjoy close ties, helped by Bulgaria having been the only ally of Nazi Germany to have saved Jews from the death camps during World War II. Angelov will also visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and meet with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on his trip.

In the meantime last week a potential catastrophe of  biblical proportions was thwarted when the Cypriot authorities allowed a Russian ship loaded with  munitions to travel to Syria. As we all know it did not went well for the Cypriots, the last time Cyprus detained a ship carrying ammunition and explosives to Syria. It would not very wise, to confiscate another shipload of ammunition destined to Syria when the scars of of  last July’s deadly explosion at a naval base, in Mari, which killed 13 people are still open.

Russia’s apparent military support for the Syrian regime emerged on Wednesday when a Russian ship carrying 60 tonnes of arms for Damascus was stopped in Cyprus.

The MV Chariot, which set off from St Petersburg in early December, was forced to pull into the Greek Cypriot port of Limassol because of stormy seas. It had been on its way to Turkey and Syria, inspectors said.

Customs officials who boarded the ship discovered four containers. They were unable to open them but concluded that they contained a “dangerous cargo”. State radio in Cyprus went further, alleging that the Chariot was carrying “tens of tonnes of munitions”.

According to Russian media, the vessel may be transporting up to 60 tons of ammunition supplied by Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport through freight company Balchart.

Chariot stopped over in Cyprus for refueling and was allowed to set sail from the port of Limassol after its Russian owners agreed to change the destination to Turkey rather than Syria.

But the crew decided to revert to its original itinerary after leaving the Cypriot port, according to a source close to the operator of the ship.

There are rumors that when Greece receives next tranche of the bailout in March, expected to be €80 billion, there is a possibility that they will sign some new arms contracts, probably with France and Germany. The article of  Mr. Class Tatje, is a very interesting read. Well you did not believed that Germany and France were helping Greece because Merkozy is a good Samaritan?

The new austerity programme that Greece’s government has announced leaves hardly a Greek unscathed. Unless, that is, he works for the military or for the armaments industry.

In 2010 Greece’s budget for the military was almost seven billion euros. That is about three percent of its economic output, a figure surpassed among NATO countries only by the United States. The Ministry of Defence did, however, cut its arms procurement in 2011 by €500 million. But all this will mean, believes an arms trade expert, is that future needs will be all the higher.

Among Greece’s EU partners, only a few are calling publicly for the Greek rearmament programme to stop at once and for a long time into the future. One is Daniel Cohn-Bendit, leader of the Greens in the European Parliament. Europe’s hesitation, he believes, masks well-entrenched economic interests.

The main beneficiary of the Greek armament programme in Europe turns out to be its savings champion, Germany. According to the just-released Rüstungsexportbericht 2010 (2010 Arms Exports Report) the Greeks are, after the Portuguese – another state teetering on the verge of bankruptcy – the biggest customers for German armaments.

Spanish and Greek newspapers even spread a rumour that Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy reminded former Prime Minister of Greece George Papandreou during a summit meeting at the end of October to honour existing arms orders, and even sign new ones.

For the previous updates of Eastern Mediterranean:
The Situation In The Eastern Mediterranean (Part 6)
The Situation In The Eastern Mediterranean (Part 5)
The Situation In The Eastern Mediterranean (Part 4)
The Situation In The Eastern Mediterranean (Part 3)
The Situation In The Eastern Mediterranean (Part 2)
The Situation In The Eastern Mediterranean (Part 1)

SNMCMG-2 Is In Patras For An Exercise With Greek Navy

A-579 TCG Cezayirli Gazi Hasan Paşa, the flagship of SNMCMG-2

Tomorrow NATO’s SNMCMG-2 will start a 3 day visit in Patras, Greece.

SNMCMG-2 is currently led by Captain Abdulhamit Şener of Turkish Navy. Last month the task force made a visit to Spit, Croatia. Following their departure from Split, the ships of SNMCMG-2, led by the flagship A-579 TCG Cezayirli Gazi Hasanpaşa, conducted underway exercises with the Croatian Navy on 11 and 12 October.

According to the press release of the Greek Navy SNMCMG-2 will take part in the Exercise Ariadne. The exercise will involve extra power of the Navy, consisting of the frigate F-459 Andrias, the mine hunters M-64 Kalypso, M-63 Kallisto and gunboats P-268 Aititos, P-19 Navmachos. During their stay in Patras, the foreign crews of the ships will visit archaeological sites and places of tourist interest.

The current composition of SNMCMG-2 is as following:

Number
Name
Nation
Participants
A-579 TCG Cezayirli Gazi Hasan Paşa Turkey Flagship
M-270 TCG Akçay Turkey Minehunter
M-35 SPS Duero Spain Minehunter
5557 ITS Numano Italy Minehunter
M-1063 Bad Beversen Germany Minehunter

The Situation In The Eastern Mediterranean (Part 5)

The Eastern Mediterranean is no longer in the spot light of the public opinion. More important and pressing events such as the death of Gaddafi in Libya, the earthquake in Van, Turkey left the guess for oil in the Eastern Mediterranean in the shadows.

I think all actors of this quest are happy from this fact as they have more room for maneuver when everybody is looking somewhere else.

Turkey continues to look for hydrocarbon reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean. According to news reports a third ship R/V Oceanic Challenger will join the old and reliable R/V K Piri Reis and R/V Bergen Surveyor. The R/V Oceanic Challenger is rented by TPAO and will search for hydrocarbon reserves in a 1.100 square kilometers area off the coast of Alanya, Turkey.

Israel has sent warplanes and military helicopters for a “routine military exercise between the allies”. The Israeli diplomatic sources denied the allegations of Turkish media that these exercises were intended to send a message to Turkey. Air force exercises over our allies’ air space are routine for the Israeli military and there is no political agenda behind this,” an Israeli source said.

The Israeli embassy yesterday downplayed reports in the press claiming that military exercises were being conducted in Cyprus’ airspace in order to send a message to Turkey. 

“Air force exercises over our allies’ air space are routine for the Israeli military and there is no political agenda behind this,” an Israeli source said. 

Daily Phileleftheros said yesterday that Israel and Cyprus wanted to send a strong message to Turkey and were collaborating on military exercises. 

This source seems to ignore the fact that Cyprus has no air force!

Greek Cypriot President Demetris Christofias canceled his visit to the drilling platform «Noble Homer Ferrington» of Noble Energy in the “Plot 12”, due to his busy schedule.

The devastating earthquake in Van caused a temporary break in the diplomatic struggle between Turkey, Israel and Greece and could lead to a earthquake diplomacy like the one in 1999.

Israel offered humanitarian help and any help possible, anywhere in Turkey and at any time.

President Shimon Peres called Turkish President Abdullah Gul and offered his condolences following the 7.3 magnitude quake that struck southeastern Turkey earlier Sunday, that may have claimed the lives of up to 1,000 people.

“Speaking as a human being, a Jew and an Israeli who remembers and is aware of the depth of the historic relations between our two countries, I extend condolences on behalf of the entire (Israeli) people,” Peres said.

Peres added that “in this difficult hour, the State of Israel is ready to offer any assistance possible, anywhere in Turkey and at any time.”

Greece stated that she too was ready to provide all possible assistance to the Turkish authorities after a devastating earthquake that hit the Van region

Greece is prepared to provide all possible assistance to the Turkish authorities after a devastating earthquake that hit the Van region of the neighbouring country shortly after noon on Sunday, Greek foreign minister Stavros Lambrinidis told his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu in a telephone call later in the day.
Lambrinidis expressed his deepest condolences and the Greek people’s support for the Turkish people, and informed Davutoglu of the Greek citizens protection ministry’s readiness to provide all possible assistance to the Turkish authorities in dealing with the disaster.

Anybody who thinks that this dispute over the hydrocarbons is limited to Turkey, Greece and Israel is a fool. At a time when all governments are desperate to balance their budgets the real or perceived revenues from selling any hydrocarbon resources, puts people into a state of hysteria even countries with no major hostility in their history.

In the case of Italy, tensions with Malta have risen following the island’s publication of a tender for oil exploration in the Ionian Sea – in areas claimed by Italy. Meanwhile, Malta is also in dispute with Libya over its southern maritime borders. Furthermore, environmental concerns over a possible oil spill in the Mediterranean’s closed sea could also hamper upstream activity in the region.

With recent discoveries in the eastern Mediterranean and further ongoing exploration already taking place offshore Italy, Albania, Croatia, Montenegro (and possibly Greece in the near future), we believe that exploration on Italy’s side of the Ionian Sea is likely to attract significant interest. Nevertheless, this raises political tensions and a great deal of diplomacy will be required if serious disputes are to be resolved or avoided.

Be sure to follow EagleSpeak’s excellent blog. He is one of the most up-to-date information source about piracy among other topics.
For the previous updates of Eastern Mediterranean:
The Situation In The Eastern Mediterranean (Part 4)
The Situation In The Eastern Mediterranean (Part 3)
The Situation In The Eastern Mediterranean (Part 2)
The Situation In The Eastern Mediterranean (Part 1)

Is This Necrophilia?

I know what necrophilia means. But I think the word’s definition needs some rewriting especially, after reading DCNS’ intention to sell FREMM class frigates to Greece:

France wants to deliver two to four new frigates to the Greek navy and to allow the highly indebted nation to postpone payment of the €300 million ($412 million) purchase price per ship for the next five years.

 Under the deal, Greece will have the option of paying up after five years, with a significant discount of €100 million, or returning them to the French navy. The “stealth” frigates are designed to avoid detection by enemy radar and are built by state-owned French defense company DCNS.

Well the French consider themselves as good lovers and an authority on almost everything about l’amour. I didn’t know that this expertise also included loving of the dead. Well any way they are not alone in this business:

The [French] deal is being criticized by German rivals that have been competing for the contract for years.

In a letter to the German government, an executive from the ThyssenKrupp group complained that the vessel purchase will in effect be co-financed by German taxpayers because Greece, reliant on aid from the European Union and International Monetary Fund, may have to restructure its debts.

A Greek debt haircut is looking increasingly likely. If this happens and Greece is rescued again with funds from the European bailout mechanisms, Thyssen’s scenario would come true. German taxpayers would shoulder part of Greece’s government spending and thereby be forced to pay for a portion of the frigate purchase.

“While German naval shipyards aren’t getting any orders, DCNS and Greek shipyards are being subsidized and kept alive, probably with German money in the end,” the ThyssenKrupp executive said.

Uwe Beckmeyer, a member of parliament from the the center-left Social Democrats, says German jobs are at stake and called on Chancellor Angela Merkel to get French President Nicolas Sarkozy to abandon the ship sale. “The Chancellor must stop her friend Sarkozy,” said Beckmeyer.

So the Germans think they can beat the French in “love-making”. This is something I would like to see.

While France and Germany bicker about who is going to make love to the corpse, sell warships to Greece, this is the hard reality:

Greek unions began a 48-hour general strike on Wednesday, the biggest protest in years, as parliament prepares to vote on sweeping new austerity measures designed to stave off a default that could trigger a crisis in the wider euro zone.

The strike shut government departments, businesses, public services and even providers of everyday staples like shops and bakeries and will culminate in mass demonstrations outside parliament, which was the scene of violent clashes in June.

The industrial action comes as European Union leaders scramble to set the outlines of a new rescue package in time for a summit on Sunday that hopes to agree measures to protect the region’s financial system from a potential Greek debt default.

Greece’s Prime Minister George Papandreou made a final appeal for support late on Tuesday, comparing the situation facing Greece to a war and telling deputies in the ruling PASOK party that it was their duty to support the tough new measures.

The Situation In The Eastern Mediterranean (Part 4)

The ships around Cyprus. From Greek daily Kathimerini

Last weeks events especially the death of Mr. Jobs, turned the attention of the public’s focus away from the Eastern Mediterranean. The number of articles published, the war mongering and empty threads diminished with the public general interest. May be it is good so.

Now is the era of back office diplomacy. It is time to talk and to bargain. Time will tell us Now these behind the closed doors talk will end.

Last week after a port visit to Girne the Turkish research ship R/V Koca Piri Reis resumed its activities off Cyprus. It is reported that the ship is now directed to an area that is further away from the famous Block 12.

In the mean time one Italian research ship R/V Explora and one Norwegian research R/V Bergen Surveyer ships are in Eastern Mediterranean conducting operations. The area is full of research ships.

The Turkish Piri Reis exploration vessel will continue its seismic research efforts off southern Cyprus, according to a Turkish official speaking on condition of anonymity.

The Piri Reis has partially completed its work on Block 12, a contested zone where the Republic of Cyprus has also begun drilling for oil and natural gas.

While the Turkish media referred to a story published by the Greek Cypriot daily Phileleftheros, which said that two Israeli F-15 jets flew through the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot airspace and harassed the vessel, Piri Reis Captain Umut Yenice said, “We worked safely, and war jets watched us 24 hours a day,” after the ship completed its seismic data collection studies in a 445 square-mile zone around Cyprus under an exploration license from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus granted by the TRNC Council of Ministers to the state-owned Turkiye Petrolleri Anonim Ortakligi (Turkish Petroleum Corporation, or TPAO) to explore for oil and natural gas in the sea around Cyprus.

Yenice said, “We began seismic studies on 26 September, and we have completed our studies in an almost 445 square-mile zone in about ten days,” Istanbul’s Hurriyet newspaper reported.

A serious political crisis erupted in Cyprus last week. The President of Cyprus Christofias, is facing harsh criticism because of his role in a catastrophe of biblical proportions. The investigations panel founded after the confiscated Iranian ammunition in 98 standard size containers exploded severely damaging Cyprus’s main naval base and the adjunct main power station, put the blame on Mr Christofias as he was politically responsible.

PRESIDENT Demetris Christofias was responsible for allowing and keeping in Cyprus the confiscated munitions that exploded on July 11 killing 13 men, and for approving their storage at the Evangelos Florakis naval base in Mari, investigator Polys Polyviou concluded.

Polyviou also blamed defence minister Costas Papacostas and foreign minister Markos Kyprianou — both resigned in the aftermath of the blast — “but the main responsibility belongs to the President of the Republic, who heads the state and the government.”

“The President of the Republic in this case failed to take elementary measures for the security of Cyprus’s citizens. In this case I am not referring just to institutional responsibility,” Polyviou said. “The Executive, which is headed by the President of the Republic, failed miserably in taking the necessary measures to handle the matter.”

Reading out a summary of his 600-page plus report, Polyviou said the way in which the 98 containers had been stored was “completely irresponsible” and that their proximity to the power station had not been borne in mind, nor had the danger they posed to people working there.

“Even if the president did not sign a document choosing Mari and even if the National Guard and Defence Ministry decided to put them there the final decision belongs and is attributable to the president of the republic,” Polyviou said.

“The cargo was a time bomb placed in one of the most unsuitable places in Cyprus,” he added.

Mr. Christofias’ response the above mentioned accusations was not late and pretty much predictable: He denied that he was responsible and counter blamed the investigator Mr. Polyviou.

PRESIDENT Demetris Christofias yesterday defied calls for his resignation, rejecting the findings of an inquiry that he was personally responsible for the July 11 naval base blast that killed 13 people.

Christofias said he did not intend to resign but apologised to the relatives of the dead for the “mistakes, omissions and weaknesses” that led to the tragedy.

Christofias said the findings were not substantiated and accused investigator Polys Polyviou of overstepping his mandate by making suggestions and assessments concerning foreign policy.

“The President of the Republic categorically rejects that he has personal responsibility for the incident,” Christofias said last night in Limassol. “This conclusion … is not substantiated by the testimony and the material presented before the investigating committee. On the contrary.”

This accusations of guilt and responsibility for the Mari exposition is important as they may cause some important political changes in Greek part of Cyprus which in turn may effect the talks between the two communities in Cyprus and other activities around the island. But just before Cyprus gets the presidency for the EU I guess Mr. Christofias will do everything possible not to rock the boat too violently.

In a human gesture Israeli President Mr. Peres and Minister President Netanyahu send condolences to Turkey’s prime minister Mr. Erdoğan, after his mother died.

Israeli leaders have sent condolences to Turkey’s prime minister in a rare gesture of friendship at a time of deep strains between the former allies. Both President Simon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent their letters on news of the death of the mother of Recep Tayyip Erdogan.Peres wrote Sunday that the news “was received with much sadness,” and he empathized with “the boundless sorrow” of Erdogan’s loss.

Erdogan’s mother died Friday

I wonder what did Mr. Lieberman send if anything at all?

While dealing with the political fallout of the Mari explosion, Cyprus has handed the protection of its EEZ to Israel.

According to a report in Phileleftheros the Israeli Air Force has now ramped up patrols near the exploration zones, with “intensive activity south of Cyprus yesterday.” 

Meanwhile the Turkish side announced that it will make more moves in the Eastern Mediterranean. 

The paper reports that over the last 24-hours: “the Israelis have dominated the area and monitored all movement near the Cyprus platform”. 

Last week the Greek and Turkish defence ministers hold talks during the session of Defence ministers of countries of Southeastern Europe in Antalya. I guess it is a good thing that both parties have a formal communication channel despite the harsh words and all.

National Defence Minister Panos Beglitis, speaking after his first meeting with his Turkish counterpart Ismet Yilmaz, in the framework of the session of Defence ministers of countries of Southeastern Europe in Antalya on Sunday, said “I raised the issue of Confidence Building Measures, where sincerely we have achieved considerable progress, but the two sides can work even more to enable us to create a climate of mutual trust, to reduce the mistrust between the two sides.” 
Beglitis also said that in this meeting he conveyed the Greek government’s concern over the recent violations of Greek airspace on the part of Turkish aircraft. 

On naval deployments there was some action last week: The Greek frigate F-452 HS Hydra was send to Eastern Mediterranean. The ship will take part in NATO’s Operation Active Endeavor. Turkish frigate F-247 TCG Kemalreis returned from the Eastern Mediterranean. Her passage off the Cape Sounio caused much excitement in the Greek media so that The Greek Defence Ministry had to publish a public announcement about the covering of TCG Kemalreis‘ passage in the media. Here is the Google translation of this announcement:

ANSWER IN PRESS
On the occasion of unsigned newspaper “Republic” entitled “to come Sounion Turkish frigate”, which contains false and slanderous reports about the fighting ability of the Armed Forces, the Defence announces that:
The author of the article lies and slanders the Defence and Armed Forces referring to supposedly complete surprise and panic, when the official announcement is clearly indicated on the motion of the ship from the area of ​​Rhodes to and exit from the Strait of Kafirea. The Armed Forces of the monitoring system have routinely monitor all vessels operating within the area of ​​responsibility by taking action where necessary.

F-247 TCG Kemalreis in heavy weather. Photo from blog Strategy Reports

Stressed that no reporter from this newspaper attempted to contact the General Staff to update or crosscheck the information was of “fishermen.” We urge them not to come into contact with the Press Office of the General Staff to be informed in detail about how the Armed Forces attended the voyage of Frigate and given a detailed outline of the ship’s motion (path and time).
Inform the end the author of the article, that such reports affect primarily the staff of the Armed Forces, working 24 hours a day, in this case as one that was responsible for monitoring the voyage of the frigate from early morning until early evening Saturday hour.

For the previous updates of Eastern Mediterranean:
The Situation In The Eastern Mediterranean (Part 3)
The Situation In The Eastern Mediterranean (Part 2)
The Situation In The Eastern Mediterranean (Part 1)

Two Russian Ships In The Mediterranean

Russia’s sole remaining Kashin class (Project 61M) large ASW destroyer Smetlivyy is preparing for a deployment to the Mediterranean. The Black Sea Fleet ship, based in Sevastopol will sail to Italy to take part in the annual joint Russian-Italian naval exercise IONIEX 2011.

According to the web site rusnavy.com, recently, all ship’s systems were tested in different modes at sea, and the crew held teamwork drills.

Joint exercise IONIEX regularly conducted off Italy demonstrates developing cooperation between Russian and Italian navies. Mariners of the two countries conduct tactical maneuvering, inspection and rescue operations, communication drills, and practice repelling of small-size target attacks.

158 RS Tsesar Kunikov in Istanbul, in 2008.

The destroyer will also conduct some port visits.

In the mean time Ropucha-I class (Project 775) large landing ship Tsesar Kunikov is in Corfu, Greece to take part in Russian Week festival.

According to the web site navaltoday.com, in the port of Pylos, the crew of  Tsesar Kunikov  will represent Russia at celebration related to anniversary of the Navarino Sea Battle. Later, the ship call at the port of Piraeus.

This year’s cruise program for the first time includes formal calls at Greek ports Argostolion, Cephalonia Island and Alexandroupolis, Rhodes Island.

Tsesar Kunikov will also visit Montenegrin port Kotor.

Reduction In Greek Armed Forces?

Düyun-u Umumiye Building. Now used as a highschool. Photo: © Guillaume Piolle via Wikipedia.

This beautiful building in the old city of Istanbul was the head quarters of Düyun-u Umumiye-i Osmaniye Varidat-ı Muhassasa İdaresi, between 1897-1933.

The Düyun-u Umumiye can be translated into English as General Debts or General Obligations was an administration established to collect the tax on stamps, alcoholic drinks, fish hunting, salt, tobacco and silk in the Ottoman Empire. Theses taxes were used to pay the internal and external creditors of Ottoman Empire.

Approximately 150 years ago “Sick man of Europe” , the Ottoman Empire was in financial crisis and was highly in debt to a consortium of banks. Neither able to pay the interest or the actual debt Ottoman Empire lost most of its financial freedom with the foundation of the General Obligations Administration. The payments of the debts of Ottoman Empires continued after the foundation of Turkish Republic and ended only in 1954.

I have told the story of the Düyun-u Umumiye simply because if a nations loses its financial independence, it loses pretty much everything.

According to Greek blog defencegreece.com IMF, EU and ECB want radical cuts in Greek Armed Forces.

The Troika calls for a 79% reduction in costs by 2015 for the Armed Forces

The data included in a question tabled at the Parliament, by the MPs of the ‘Nea Dimokratia’ party P.Kammenos and G.Stylianidis are shocking!

According to the medium-term program, by 2015 operating expenses of the Armed Forces will be reduced to 234 million Euros, from 1,112 billion Euros in 2009. The costs will be reduced by 79% compared with 2009 and 69% compared with 2011.

This means that the Armed Forces will be reduced to 1 / 6 of their power! It is paranoid to discuss such matters in this particular time, while huge interests and geopolitical games are played in our region, but “the government should decide whether Greece will continue to maintain its Armed Forces or no” says the question tabled by the two MPs.

The figures are truly unbelievable, but the numbers always tell the truth. Can the Greek government achieve this goal without significant impact on the fighting ability of the Armed Forces? Anyone who can claim this seriously, we are here to hear his arguments!

This question coincides with information that representatives of the troika want to have … friendly meetings with the Chiefs of Staffs on “how to reduce costs even further.”

Costs can be reduced and there are proposals, submitted two years ago, for closure or merging of units which serve no operational planning or decommissioning obsolete and now unneeded weapon systems. Both Ministers of Defence of the current government of PASOK, Venizelos and Beglitis, did not dare to touch these issues.

The Situation In The Eastern Mediterranean (Part 3)

While Eastern Mediterranean continues to be hotspot new players are trying to enter the game. One of them is France. According to Greek Daily Kathimerini:

French energy companies ‘Total’ and ‘Gaze de France’ bought three-dimensional seismic data for gas deposits in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The cost of seismic data was over the 2 million euros for the company “Gaze de France” and over 1.6 million euros for the “Total”.

So after Russia, France decided to stuck its nose to this hotspot. For years France was one of the main armament supplier of Greek Cypriots. Therefore their arrival is not a big surprise. It is a known fact that Mr. Sarkozy does not have much foundnes for Turks with the French elections on the horizon he will try to boast his popularity by bashing Turkey. Therefore the involvement of the French energy companies into Cyprus should not be a surprise.

In the meantime Russia decided to bolster its presence  in the Mediterranean. Apparently the invisible nuclear submarines they have sent did not make any noteworthy deterrence so that Russia decided to send her biggest warship the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov to the region. An aircraft carrier is a very large ship ands its presence in not disputable unlike submarines.

The heavy air-capable cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov at the head of a squadron of Northern Fleet ships will set out on a long-distance voyage in November this year to accomplish combat duty missions in the Mediterranean Sea and the North-Eastern Atlantic, anofficer at the Main Naval Headquarters (MNH) of Russia told Itar-Tass on Thursday.

“The Admiral Kuznetsov will go to the Barents Sea on November 13 and moor up there to take on board an air wing — eight jetfighters Su-33, several MiG-29K, as well as two ASW helicopters Ka-27. The air wing will be drilling the tasks of takeoff and landing onto the deck of the carrier for a week.

“On November 19, the Admiral Kuznetsov will set out on a three-month cruise to the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. The large anti-submarine ship Admiral Chabanenko will be together with the cruiser among the carrier group of ships for screening and combat support purposes,” the MNH officer said.

Verification is under way of a list of foreign ports to be visited by the Russian ships, including an update in view of the developments in the Middle East and North Africa. The question of the Russian ships’ participation in joint exercises together with the navies of countries in the region is being worked out as well, the MNH officer pointed out.

The Turkish reasech vessel R/V Koca Piri Reis arrived its search zone south of Cyprus and started to work. According to Turkish daily Milliyet the area in which R/V Koca Piri Reis is working is adjundat to the famous Block 12. The reaserch ship is reported to be shadowed by two Turkish warships: the frigate F-491 TCG Giresun and the corvette F-504 TCG Bartın.

Since the early morning hours of Tuesday, the Turkish research vessel “Piri Reis” along with two Turkish warships, has been coming and going in plot No12, located at the marine area where, on behalf of the Cypriot government, the US company “Noble Energy International “is carrying out research to find gas.

There are rumors that Israeli fighters and military helicopters are providing company to the research ship R/V Koca Piri Reis. 

Israel Defense Forces jet fighters were scrambled toward a Turkish seismic research ship in the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkish media reported on Friday, in what seemed to be a further escalation in the already fraying ties between the once longtime allies.

According to the report, cited by the Turkish daily Today’s Zaman and based on a report by the Turkish Vatan daily, two Israel Air Force F-15s took off to face the Turkish vessel on Thursday night, flying through the airspace of both Cyprus and Turkish Cyprus.

The report added that the warplanes approached the Turkish ship despite incessant warnings by forces in Turkish Cyprus, according to which the planes had breached the territory’s airspace.

Ultimately, the report indicated, Turkey launched two F-16 fighters to track the Israeli planes, at which point the IAF fighter jets returned to Israeli airspace.

The above mentioned rumors were quickly denied by all parties:

Reached by satellite phone onboard the Koca Piri Reis on Friday, second mate Cevdet Kılıçer said he could see a Turkish military ship closely following his vessel as it conducted surveys about 45 kilometres south of Cyprus.

He declined to name the Turkish warship, or give details about the naval protection for his team. But he said the crew of the research vessel remains in regular contact with their military counterparts, and feels reassured by the armed presence. “There are no other ships around here, we are alone, so we are just doing our job,” Mr. Kılıçer said.

The officer also seemed skeptical about a flurry of reports about Israeli and Turkish aircraft jockeying in the skies nearby. Two newspapers in Cyprus, the Phileleftheros and the Cyprus Mail, citing military sources, reported that two Israeli jets and a helicopter flew into the area this week. Turkish media ran similar stories, adding that Turkey scrambled its fighter jets in response, and the Israeli planes retreated back to their own airspace. Such activity could have happened too far away to be visible from the Koca Piri Reis; the second mate sounded genuinely puzzled about it.

“There is no aircraft around here,” Mr. Kılıçer said. “This is a safe place for us. Everything is alright now, we haven’t seen anything.” An Israeli military spokeswoman also denied the reports. “It didn’t happen,” she said.

In the mean time there reports from Greece that the problematic submarine  H/S Papanikolis seems to be rehabilitated.

Three objectives were set simultaneously in the sights of the battle system of the submarine Type 214 Papanikolis under operational testing of weapon systems and subsystems that are underway and more specifically, in the final stage.

In particular, a triple – while firing torpedoes. The purpose of this operational energy was to evaluate the performance of the system for control of three weapons from the submarine combat system.

According to reports, the test has successfully. Recalled that the system tries regularly and participates in all activities of the Fleet which is very important especially lately grown continuously challenges to security and defense of sovereignty of the country, especially in the eastern Mediterranean.

What the above quoted article tactfully skips to tell is the type of the torpedoes Papanikolis supposed to have fired. The issue about this submarine’s main armament is not solved. Initially Greek Navy decided to use Italian Black Shark torpedoes. But this choice was cancelled in 2004 due to high cost of integration of the Italian torpedoes into German combat system. Currently there are no announced acquisition plans for modern torpedoes. So what kind of torpedoes are used?

For the previous updates of eastern Mediterranean:

The Situation In The Eastern Mediterranean (Part 2)

The Situation In The Eastern Mediterranean (Part 1)

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