Originally published in the Greek newspaper “Paraskinio” issue 569, p. 53 on Mar. 11, 2017
The Greek-Turkish tension in the Aegean has intensified the rhetoric of the officials of the two countries, but in fact those who add fuel to the fire are the Turks. In almost all of his speeches, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan does not fail to mention the Treaty of Lausanne and Turkey’s “sovereign rights” on the Greek islands, while air and naval violations have increased. However, observers are wondering if these actions will become a military engagement of the two countries or will remain on paper.
In the midst of Turkey’s internal economic and security crisis and developments in Turkish foreign policy, we can see two interpretations of Turkish aggression. The first is that Erdoğan and the AKP government officials are seeking popular support and that of the Turkish nationalist party, raising voices about Turkey’s rights in the Aegean and Cyprus. This support is essential for the constitutional amendments to be passed in the planned referendum on April 16th. If this interpretation is true, things will not grow further.
However, there is a second interpretation that circulates in the circles of experts in domestic issues of Turkey. This is that there is still a part of the army that wants to draw the country into a war in order to reduce the influence of Erdoğan on the inside. Can anyone wonder if it is possible to do such moves without the approval of the Turkish leadership and if in such a case it will support it? Let us recall here the downing of the Russian aircraft at the Turkish-Syrian border by the Turkish Air Force at the end of 2015, which led to the disruption of diplomatic and trade relations between the two countries. This action was supported by the statements of Turkish officials, including Erdoğan himself. Later it turned out that those who carried out the operation were elements belonging to the organization of Fethullah Gülen and that the Turkish leadership had not ordered a plane to be downed. If, then, that interpretation is true, things will evolve in an undesirable way for the two neighboring peoples.
However, the best option for the two countries is to avoid any military conflict as they both have difficulties with Turkey bleeding in Syria and Greece to suffer from the economic crisis.