Greeks slow to read Ankara’s Aegean intentions


Greece and Cyprus have failed to respond effectively to Turkey’s latest aggressive manoeuvres in the Aegean, journalist Notis Papadopoulis wrote in the Greek newspaper Kathimerini.

Ankara has for months successfully stalled Greek Cypriot attempts to explore for gas in the eastern Mediterranean, whilst at the same time ramping up its rhetoric and actions regarding disputed islets off Turkey’s Aegean coast, where Turkish warplanes have been violating Greek airspace with increasing regularity, the newspaper said.

The Turkish navy intervened in January to prevent the Greek defence minister from laying a wreath in memory of Greek sailors who died in 1996 during an earlier crisis over the islets. More recently, at the beginning of the month, two Greek soldiers were arrested in Turkey after having stumbled across the border in bad weather.

All of this comes after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan set alarm bells ringing during a visit to Athens in December by questioning the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne that delineates borders between the two countries.

Such events show that Turkey has upped its claims in the Aegean.

But Greece has not been quick in recognising Ankara’s revised intentions. The Greeks must expect Erdoğan, given his track record, to treat them with “pure disregard”, says Papadopoulis. To respond effectively Greece “must engage in a thorough diplomatic campaign reaching out to all allied governments, using evidence to expose Turkey’s big bully attitude and its ulterior motives”.


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