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War between Greece and Turkey is now a real possibility

khansaheeb

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It seems Turkey will right the wrong it was forced to suffer by the colonial powers Britain, France, Japan, Italy etc who forced Turkey to give up territory including Dodecanese Islands (Article 15); Cyprus (Article 20);[17] Egypt and Sudan (Article 17); Syria and Iraq (Article 3); and (along with the Treaty of Ankara) settled the boundaries of the latter two nations.[3]


Op-Ed
War between Greece and Turkey is now a real possibility


There has never been any love lost between Turkey and Greece, but the danger of war between the two NATO members has not been this high since the Cyprus conflict more than 45 years ago. In the past, Turkey and Greece have gone to the brink, but policies initiated by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan may very much push the two neighbors over the edge.
The National Interest
FOREIGN AND DEFENSE POLICY

July 24, 2020

Greek and Turkish fighter jets engaged in mock dogfights this week over the Greek island of Kastellorizo, just a mile and a half from the Turkish coast, causing tourists to flee. Meanwhile, there is a growing risk that the Turkish and Greek navies will clash, hundreds of miles to the west if Turkey pushes forward with its plans to survey in Greece’s exclusive economic zone. Greek officials says all options are on the table, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel has rushed to mediate as U.S. officials remain largely absent.

There has never been any love lost between Turkey and Greece, but the danger of war between the two NATO members has not been this high since the Cyprus conflict more than 45 years ago. In the past, Turkey and Greece have gone to the brink, but policies initiated by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan may very much push the two neighbors over the edge. In question are two interrelated issues: Erdogan’s efforts to walk away from the Lausanne Treaty and his increasing desperation to find resources to bail out Turkey’s flagging economy.

The Lausanne Treaty was signed 97 years ago today to tie up loose ends remaining from the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. While Kurds lament the treaty for reversing promises of statehood, the Treaty set Turkey’s borders with Bulgaria, Greece, Syria, and Iraq. Whatever flaws came with those borders, the post-Lausanne system enabled nearly a century of stability.

For reasons of ideology, economics, and ego, Erdogan now seeks to undo the Lausanne Treaty: Ideology because Erdogan seeks to regain control of certain Ottoman territories and change the demographics of areas outside Turkey’s borders; economics because Turkey seeks to steal resources from recognized Greek and Cypriot exclusive economic zones; and, ego, because Erdogan wants to top Atatürk’s legacy as a military victor.

Erdogan has already set the stage for scrapping the Lausanne Treaty. In December 2017, Erdogan shocked a Greek audience when, on a visit to his neighbor, he floated the idea. Three months later, he suggested that the Bulgarian town of Kardzhali was within Turkey’s “spiritual boundaries,” drawing protests from Bulgaria which at the time held the European Union presidency. State-controlled Turkish newspapers have gotten in on the game showing maps of Turkey with its borders revised at the expense of neighboring states.

His latest post-Lausanne push is his most dangerous. Turkey has dispatched the seismic survey ship Oruc Reis to operate in the waters surrounding Greek islands. Such an action would be both illegal and provocative. Under terms of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Greece claims territorial waters around its islands for exploration and exploitation of marine resources. Turkey is not a UNCLOS member (nor, for that matter, is the United States) but, unlike the United States, Turkey ignores customary law and stands alone in its interpretation.

In effect, Turkey seeks to revise not only international law but also potential control over the resources of hundreds of Greek islands in the Aegean Sea. While the Oruc Reis remains in port, this appears to have less to do with Turkish restrain and more with high winds that should soon dissipate. Turkey has the largest indigenous navy in the region and promises to escort the Oruc Reis; there are at least 18 warships in the immediate vicinity. Given the stakes, Greece has no choice but to respond, hence the panic in European Union capitals.

European leaders also recognize that this is not just a dispute about the Aegean Sea. In November 2019, Turkey signed a deal with Libya establishing a joint maritime boundary between the two countries, something only possible if Turkey ignores Greek islands up to and including Crete, an island more than 25 percent larger than Delaware.

Too often U.S. and European leaders compartmentalize problems, but the extent of Erdogan’s strategy can only be understood holistically. It is no coincide that as Erdogan questions Turkey’s commitment to live within borders established almost a century ago and infringes on Greek and Cypriot waters, he has not only transformed the centuries-old Hagia Sofia from a museum back into a mosque, but scheduled its first formal prayers for today, the anniversary of the Lausanne Treaty. There simply is no better way for Erdogan to show symbolically Turkey’s rejection of the post-Lausanne order.

Erdogan, like Vladimir Putin, has long thrived by playing chicken with conflict-adverse diplomats. Everyone from U.S. Special Envoy James Jeffrey to German Chancellor Angela Merkel has previously folded much stronger hands in the face of Erdogan bluffs, hoping that by ameliorating the Turkish leader, they could calm tension in the short-term. They never recognized that Erdogan’s bluster was a tactic and grievance feigned for negotiation advantage. Caving into an aggressor, however, seldom brings peace; it only encourages aggression. Not only amorphous concepts of credibility, but very real notions of Greek sovereignty are at stake. If Erdogan pushes forward in the Eastern Mediterranean, Greece may need to fight. Certainly, Athens should consider all options to be on the table. If such a scenario comes to pass, the United States should not be neutral, but should rather recognize publicly that Turkey is the aggressor and its claims invalid.

Together with Europe, Washington could also remind Turkey that if it seeks to void the Lausanne Treaty, then its revisions may look more like the 1920 Treaty of Sèvres than the 1718 Treaty of Passarowitz.
Michael RubinMichael Rubin
Resident Scholar
@mrubin1971
Tags:
Greece, NATO, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey

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I only see Greeks acting beforehand and purchasing powerfull new weapons. The Rafale is better than the F 16. That is a fact but Turkey stoped purchasing F 35 for a russian easter egg called S-400...

Erdogan needs to be stoped his strategic blunders will make great headache for Turkey in the future.
 

Tair-Lahoti

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However, as previously reported, only days after the Limnos severely damaged the Kemal Reis, specifically on August 20, a pair of Turkish F-16 fighter jets attempted to intervene in a Greek military exercise between the Army and the Air Force that was taking place close to the island of Rhodes.
 

BHAN85

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France is using Greek corrupt state as a tool to confront Turkey due to his adventures in Libya.

France has a long experience taking advantage of corrupt ruling elites in Africa, and Greek elite is not so much different than a African corrupt regime.

Greek people doesnt deserve his corrupt and dumbass government and state.
 

Song Hong

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Like it or not, Greece is a EU state. That means she is under the protection of France and Germany.

France and Germany will loss credibility and EU be swept into garbage heap if EU allows Turks to hammer Greece.

Be sure Erdogan will pay back 10x if he does his adventurism on Greece.

France is using Greek corrupt state as a tool to confront Turkey due to his adventures in Libya.

France has a long experience taking advantage of corrupt ruling elites in Africa, and Greek elite is not so much different than a African corrupt regime.

Greek people doesnt deserve his corrupt and dumbass government and state.
 

BHAN85

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Maybe I'm wrong, but I think France is the culprit in the last escalation Greece vs Turkey.

France did the first move annoucing selling weapons to Greece after problems with Turkey in Libya, they even didn't hidden their real reasons, they treat Greece as a puppet publicly, but Greek state is not known by his worthy, they love to bring their to knees to EU, France, and anyone with money.

Like it or not, Greece is a EU state. That means she is under the protection of France and Germany.

France and Germany will loss credibility and EU be swept into garbage heap if EU allows Turks to hammer Greece.

Be sure Erdogan will pay back 10x if he does his adventurism on Greece.
 

cloud4000

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Turkey already has too much on its plate — Syria, Libya, tangling with Gulf states — to open a front with Greece.
 

mike2000 is back

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Will be interesting to see this play out. However, I don't think this will happen, there won't be a hot war per se. 50 years ago during Turkey's invasion of N.Cyprus, that was the closest both sides came closer to war. If they didn'tgo to war back then, there's a lesser chance they will do so today.
 
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mike2000 is back

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Like it or not, Greece is a EU state. That means she is under the protection of France and Germany.

France and Germany will loss credibility and EU be swept into garbage heap if EU allows Turks to hammer Greece.

Be sure Erdogan will pay back 10x if he does his adventurism on Greece.
Well, Greece and Turkey are both NATO members. So this complicates things to be honest. Turkey joining NATO was actually a very good strategic decision despite what some here believe, reason Turkey won't be leaving NATO anytime soon either. It helped shield Turkey from quite a few issues (not only against the mighty Soviet union). Without Turkey joining NATO , Turkey would have never invaded Cyprus and gotten away with it . Neither would they even have any real chance in encroaching and now wanting to explore for energy by Greece/Cyprus waters, since NATO would have openly protected these countries.
This also neutralize lots of public/military and economic pressure and criticisms the U.S /West would have put on Turkey. In fact Turkey would have been treated exactly like Iran(sanctioned, cut off from world trade, pressured and isolated for decades to this day) had they not join the western camp/NATO.
 
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azbaroj

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Like it or not, Greece is a EU state. That means she is under the protection of France and Germany.

France and Germany will loss credibility and EU be swept into garbage heap if EU allows Turks to hammer Greece.

Be sure Erdogan will pay back 10x if he does his adventurism on Greece.
Before taking Turkish islands occupied by Greece Turkey should acquire Nukes first . Then they should answer to all injustice done by British and French .
 

azbaroj

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The whole world should acquire nuke, including Greece.
Right now Tiny Greece don't need it but as a regional power , Turkey need it and perhaps they are on the way to achieve this. Thanks for not mentioning the name of Cyprus.
 

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