Since 1973, Turkey has been systematically building a list of “Greek-Turkish disputes.” The issue of delimiting the continental shelf was first raised in November of that year. In 1974 we had the threat of war if Greece extended its territorial waters and the questioning of the limits of the Athens Flight Information Region.
On September 22, Greece and Turkey announced that they would engage in exploratory talks. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is unlikely to have seen this particular development as a desirable conclusion to the 35-days crisis in the Eastern Mediterranean for a number of reasons.
The Turkish Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) is one of the country’s most powerful public institutions. In 2002, when President Recep Tayyip Erodgan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) rose to power, it employed a staff of 72,000 people. Today it has 130,000 employees.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan seems upset at the signing and ensuing ratification of the maritime boundaries agreement between Greece and Egypt. He appears desperate to score a point before withdrawing his ships.
The first Turkish violations of Greek airspace took place in May 1964 and were related to the tension over Cyprus at the time. They were followed by a hiatus of a couple of years and resumed from September to November of 1967.
The old saying “elephant in the room” implies that there is an issue that is so obvious and serious that it is easier to pretend it does not exist than actually do something about it. Regrettably, Greece’s Turkey policy has come to that point.
It is not enough that we vaguely seek a peaceful settlement of Greek-Turkish disputes; we also must have a concrete strategy as to how to get there. For example, there is a major difference of opinion about what constitutes a Greek-Turkish dispute.
Until now, Turkey has been interpreting existing legal regimes that relied on past international treaties in its own way. From now on, it will have its own treaty that aspires to build a new legal regime. The agreement may be illegal through and through, but that will not stop Ankara from constantly referring to it.