Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan clearly sees himself as the leader of a regional superpower and as a hegemon of the Islamic world. As a result, the Turkish strongman feels that he can do and say whatever he wants.
This attitude is not confined to the domestic front, where he has repeatedly extended the state of emergency, brutally violated all sorts of freedoms and rights, ordered the arrest of political rivals and threatened the detention of even more. This behavior also extends beyond his country’s borders, as Turkey has invaded neighboring countries and threatened to invade others, and Erdogan has called for the revision, or “update,” of international treaties so that the country’s official borders can coincide with, as he put it, “the borders of our hearts.”
Acting as a modern-day sultan, Erdogan does not hesitate to attack the leaders of other countries.
After accusing German Chancellor Angela Merkel of using “Nazi practices,” after describing Europe as “fascist,” after threatening US forces in Syria with an “Ottoman slap,” and after regularly criticizing Israel (his known anti-Semitism led to the infamous clash with Israeli President Shimon Peres at Davos in 2009), Erdogan recently targeted Ramush Haradinaj, the prime minister of Kosovo, a state which he clearly views as a Turkish protectorate.
Erdogan slammed Haradinaj after the latter dismissed Kosovo’s chief of intelligence and its interior minister following the deportation of six Turkish citizens with ties to the Fethullah Gulen movement (which Erdogan blames for the attempted 2016 putsch), without his permission. “Since when have you begun to protect those who work to stage a coup against the Turkish Republic?... You will pay for this. Your career is over,” said Erdogan, who in essence regards Kosovo as a Turkish province.
The behavior of the Turkish president – given the expansionist tendencies that are fed by his collaboration with far-right nationalists and his aggressive infiltration in the Balkans, which has strong religious characteristics – mandates that Greece be on the alert and prioritize the handling of its other unresolved issues.
Erdogan’s unpredictable character and authoritarian drift, combined with his strong influence and efforts to export the Islamic element, create an explosive mix – and Greece finds itself right on the front line.