The unfolding crisis triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could indirectly but substantially impact Greek-Turkish issues given the revisionism underlying Moscow’s moves.
The aim of Russian President Vladimir Putin is to bring about political change through the imposition of a Kremlin-controlled government in Kyiv and to formalize, in this way, Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and achieve the recognition of the so-called Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics in eastern Ukraine.
The effort to challenge and revise international law and to change borders is also one of the goals of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government.
With the window of revisionism opening, Athens is rightly concerned. By challenging the post-Cold War status quo in Eastern Europe, Russia is also providing arguments to those who feel their country has been wronged by history. Erdogan is one of them, based, at least, on the behavior and ideas promulgated by Ankara in recent years.
Turkey’s Blue Homeland doctrine, which envisages large swaths of the Mediterranean under Turkish influence, the invasion of northern Syria, intervention in Libya and the disputing of Greece’s sovereignty of the islands in the eastern Aegean all clearly suggest that among the goals of Erdogan is to challenge international law and the cornerstones of the European security system. One of these cornerstones is the Lausanne Treaty, which settled the borders between Greece and Turkey.
Athens was also concerned last week when Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov referred to the Turkish-occupied territories in northern Cyprus as the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” when trying to promote Moscow’s ambitions in the separatist areas in eastern Ukraine.
Lavrov’s remarks were a cause of unrest in Nicosia, in particular, given that Moscow has long been one of the most staunch supporters of Cyprus’ view regarding the situation on the war-torn island and how a settlement will proceed.