The Turkish military is in the process of building an anti-tank ditch at the bridgehead of Karagac in the region of Kastanies in Evros, with the goal of blocking a possible advance of Greek forces eastward.
The ditch is about 4.5km away from the region where the two Greek servicemen were arrested two weeks ago by the Turkish military. The 7.8km long ditch called “Canal Edirne” (canal of Adrianople) is being constructed on the west side of the Karagac settlement and has a width of 60 metres and a depth of 3 metres.
The project, which is 90% complete, was announced at the end of 2015 by the then Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, with the approval of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the General Staff Chief of General Defense General Hulusi Akar, who is still in his post today. According to Turkish media, the total cost of the project has reached $ 100 million, with its official opening planned soon in the presence Erdogan.
Turkish military analysts consider the project a crucial fortification with a unique mission to prevent a possible invasion of Greek combat troops and motorised forces in East Thrace in the event of a military conflict and efforts by Greece to create an “an equivalent fait accompli” after a possible occupation of Greek territory by Turkey. Military analyst and journalist Dimitris Manakanatas told Thema: “The equivalence of a fait accompli provides that the response to any hostile action against the territorial integrity of the country will be equivalent to that by the Greek Armed Forces”.
Turkish military websites claim that the new ditch “sealed off” the only vulnerable point from which Greek motorised forces could create a bridgehead in Karagach to advance eastwards to the plain of Eastern Thrace after of course, they managed to cross the river Evros.
Assuming that Greece’s doctrine is one of non-aggression, any scenarios of a possible bridging of Evros by the Greek forces are only Evros probable in the event of a Turkish attack or a hot Imia-style incident. Last July, however, the Fourth Army Corps demonstrated a show of force – sending a message to its neighbors – by carrying out a violent passage of the Canal Edirne and then proceeding to the east in the presence of the Chief of the Hellenic Army General Staff (HAGS), Lieutenant General Alkiviadis Stefanis.