Treading carefully to secure Aegean calm

In view of upcoming elections in both countries, Athens and Ankara steering clear of tensions

Treading carefully to secure Aegean calm

The abstention from any activity that could be used as political leverage in light of the general elections due to take place in Greece and Turkey highlights the shared intention of the governments in Athens and Ankara to leave no room for mistakes that could disturb the atmosphere that has prevailed in relations over the last two and a half months. 

On the Greek side, there were no noteworthy election-related visits by politicians to the islands on the border for photo ops with officers and soldiers in the weeks leading up to Easter as well as during the Easter celebrations, for the first time in a number of years.

At the same time, Turkey also appeared to refrain from moves that could undermine the calm climate.

This was reflected most notably by the postponement of a planned visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the Turkish-occupied territories of northern Cyprus.

The desire for calm waters is also reflected in the decision on a moratorium on military exercises which both sides have reached.

These moves have also been made with the blessing, if not not always visible, of third parties who wish to consolidate the climate of calm and, above all, to cultivate conditions for the subsequent attempt to start more intensive negotiations between Athens and Ankara.

Not least among these parties is the United States which made its intention clear during the recent visits of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Athens and Ankara. 

A similar sentiment also prevails in Berlin.

Nonetheless, the calm does not mean that either side is willing to back down from their respective positions, which the latest statements by the spokesman for the Turkish president, Ibrahim Kalin, attest to.

Outlining the vision of Turkish foreign policy in recent years, Kalin stressed that Ankara’s interest extends “from Brussels to… Tokyo.”

“We should not get into fights with Greece,” Kalin said, going on to note that “we have certain burdens that history and geography place on us.”

“Without nurturing these, without going through diplomatic recovery and without finding solutions to them, we cannot take a step towards the future,” he added, while noting the problems created by “the islands, the restrictions placed by geography, certain practices of the past and the Cyprus issue.”

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