NEWS

Athens wary of recent Ankara moves

Turkey’s overtures to regional partners, challenges in Aegean and East Med, causing concern

Athens wary of recent Ankara moves

Concern is growing in Athens that Ankara’s strategic choice to forcefully challenge and dispute Greece’s sovereignty in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean could be transferred from the diplomatic field to the ground.  

No one in Athens believes that the diplomatic initiatives (letters to the United Nations, among others) and repeated statements by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other top officials disputing Greek sovereignty, but also the recent overflights above the islands of the Aegean, will be abandoned in the coming months.

This concern is also reinforced by Ankara’s recent diplomatic activity.

Apart from expanding its theory of “gray zones” from uninhabited and small islands to the larger islands of the Eastern Aegean, Ankara is, in tandem, making a series of overtures to Athens’ regional partners, as well as the United State, as Kathimerini has already reported.

Tellingly, Israeli President Isaac Herzog will be paying a visit to Turkey on March 9-11. Before that he will travel to Athens on Thursday, February 24, in a bid to reassure the Greeks about the extent of the Israeli-Turkish rapprochement. 

Although the level of contacts between Greece and Israel, especially on defense and security issues, remains high, the political will for a rapid normalization of relations between Ankara and Jerusalem is clear.

It remains to be seen whether this normalization includes cooperation in the energy sector. Although still early, these discussions have already begun.

What’s more, the process of normalizing relations between Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is moving even faster, with Egypt remaining the only country to have expressed concern about Ankara’s moves.

For this reason, discussions between Cairo and Athens about the possibility of an interconnected natural gas pipeline from Egypt to Crete have gained momentum.

Meanwhile, Athens is also preparing for every eventuality, at the operation level.

Turkish drones but also the experience that Ankara seems to have accumulated in cyber and other forms of hybrid warfare are the reasons that have prompted Athens to move ahead with creation of an organized decision-making system based on big data and artificial intelligence, as part of the Thorax project revealed a few days ago.