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The Greek - Turkish Conflict and Greek Military Expenditure 1960-92

Christos Kollias

Journal of Peace Research, 1996, vol. 33, issue 2, 217-228

Abstract: Greece and Turkey, both members of the NATO alliance, are two of the major players in the Balkans. Over the past three decades their bilateral relations have not always been smooth. In fact, their strategic interaction has two contradictory elements: they are members of the same alliance while at the same time they are state-to-state adversaries. Both countries yearly allocate an appreciable share of their national income to defence. In the case of Greece its defence burden has invariably been the highest among NATO and European Union countries, averaging 5.6% of GDP. Empirical findings reported by this study indicate that Greek defence expenditure is primarily influenced by Turkish military capabilities. Because of size and population constraints Greece appears to respond to the military capabilities of its adversary by enhancing the capital intensity of its armed forces, which, in principle, offsets its quantitative disadvantage. The issues that divide the two countries are complex and rooted in years of conflict and mutual distrust. Efforts to resolve the Greek-Turkish disputes have so far been unsuccessful and rapprochements have invariably been short-lived. Given the strategic entropy of the post-bipolar Balkan region the proliferation of the Greek-Turkish rivalry could have important implications for the stability of the whole region. An arms control agrement aiming at achieving a balance of power between the two countries at lower levels of military spending and armament could reduce the costs of arming and assist in the reduction of tension in the area. However, a stable, long-term relaxation of tension can only be the result of a solution to the major issues that divide Greece and Turkey. Consequently, as long as the Greek-Turkish disputes remain unresolved, Greek military expenditure will remain substantially higher than that of other NATO and European Union members.

Date: 1996
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