2In reaction to the Turkish aggression over Cyprus and Turkey¶s territorial claims over Greek territory commencing in 1974, Greece underwent a gradual but dramatic change in the military policy. This change occurred in order to deal with the hostile actions of Turkey. ConstantineKaramanlis and his newly created political party,
(New Democracy), initiatedthe dramatic changes in the Greek military sector.
The new Hellenic defense doctrine needed to take into account that geography and history have placed Greece in crucial geopolitical and geostrategic areas, amid Europe, Asia, and Africa.Greece situated at a crossroads between East and West, North and South, in the easternMediterranean, a sea area of enormous political, strategic, and economic significance, occupies acritical geographic position: it is surrounded by hot spots of ethno-political and religious tensionsand conflicts. Most importantly, since 1974, Turkey was understood to be the major militarythreat to the survival and sustenance of the Greek civilization and nation-state. Greece, with3,012 islands and rocky islets, and 15,000 km of coastline, was and is Europe's gateway to Asiaand Africa. Therefore, in these crucial circumstances, Athens needed to execute a new defensedogma for the purpose in responding to the newly created Turkish menace.With the dramatic fall of the junta on July 24, 1974, the National Unity government of Karamanlis and the subsequent conservative administration of the New Democracy political party found the Greek armed forces with very low morale and inadequately prepared to deal withthe Turkish menace or any other military threat. The military equipment and the structure of thearmed forces, both largely obsolete, were the result of a long and painful embargo by the UnitedStates against the military dictatorship, which embargo was supported by most Greek statesmenas a means towards ending the brutal dictatorship. Only Evangelos Averoff, who becameKaramanlis's defense minister, opposed the military embargo in several communications tocongressional committees, but strictly for national security reasons and not in support of thecolonels. Averoff argued that Ankara would exploit the Greek military weakness in order to promote Turkey's expansionist interest in the region. In the end as history so clearly depicts,Ankara did manipulate the Greek military weakness.When Karamanlis returned to Greece from Paris on July 24, 1974, he was faced with threecrucial options regarding the Cyprus situation. The first was to go to war with Turkey.Paradoxically the Greek dictators had kept the Greek republic exposed by leaving the AegeanIslands totally undefended against a possible Turkish military operation. The second option wasto seek a truce so as to gain time and to later begin massive rearmament that would enableGreece to eject the Turkish forces out of Cyprus at an opportune moment. Had this option beenchosen, Greece and Turkey likely would have initiated a chain reaction of reverences warssimilar to those that occurred between Israel and Palestine. Moreover, US President Richard Nixon in a message to Karamanlis reflected and pressed Athens to avoid the possibility of Greek-Turkish war. An armed conflict between two neighbors and allies threatened to createserious problems in NATO¶s mission and cohesion, therefore destroying America¶s nationalinterest in the Eastern Mediterranean region. The US kept equal distance between Athens andAnkara. That policy caused great disappointment in the socio-political structure in Greece, whereWashington¶s diplomatic stance perceived to favor Turkey expansionist policies.