Concerns over Turkey prompt frenzy of diplomacy


In the wake of Turkey’s questioning of national borders determined by the Treaty of Lausanne and a rise in violations of airspace and territorial waters in the Aegean, Greek diplomats have been briefing high-level officials in Europe on Greece’s stance, Kathimerini understands.

Meanwhile Greek defense officials are concerned for two reasons: firstly due to an increase in transgressions of Greek air space by Turkish jets in recent days and the presence of a Turkish Navy frigate off the coast of Karpathos on Friday; and secondly because, according to sources, the Turkish officers staffing the craft involved in the incursions are less experienced than those before a failed Turkish coup on July 15, which led to a purge of the Turkish armed forces by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

According to well-informed sources, Greek ambassadors have been at pains to underline their concerns about the revisionism conveyed in a series of recent speeches by Erdogan, including his disputing of the Treaty of Lausanne, which established the borders of modern Turkey.

Also, growing nationalist rhetoric in Turkey is causing concern in Athens, as there fears that it could escalate and the outcome is unpredictable.

Greek envoys have expressed concern about the fact that Turkey has a military presence in three neighboring countries – Cyprus, Syria and Iraq – and have drawn attention to Turkish efforts to pressure Greece as regards the Muslim minority in the northern Greek region of Thrace.

Foreign officials have responded in different ways to the concerns relayed by Greek diplomats.

An official representing a major western European country said there was understanding for Greece’s predicament but that Turkey’s isolation on the international stage due to developments in the broader region should be borne in mind.

Another western European diplomat described Turkey’s behavior as “odd” but said the West does not have the luxury to let relations with Turkey go to seed, particularly because of the unforeseeable repercussions of the possible collapse of an agreement between the European Union and Turkey to curb migration.

An eastern European diplomat struck a different tone, saying that Erdogan’s rhetoric was mistaken and created risks for international law and drawing a parallel between Turkey’s behavior in the Aegean to Italy’s in the Baltic Sea.