NEWS

Athens bracing for Turkish move

athens-bracing-for-turkish-move

With Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan scaling up his demands in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean, Athens is preparing for a difficult January with expectations that Ankara will make good on its threats to enforce the maritime zone deal it signed last month with Tripoli, which questions Greece’s sovereign rights. 

Greece is using a two-pronged strategy of diplomatic initiatives on the one hand and aversion tactics on the other, Kathimerini understands.

However, it is widely believed that a move by Turkey in the region over the coming weeks is inevitable following a series of statements by Erdogan heralding research for hydrocarbons and drilling in areas that he claims Turkey has rights to based on the pact, which has been broadly condemned as illegal and invalid. 

Athens is bracing for four possible scenarios of escalating severity. The first, and mildest, would involve Turkey dispatching a research vessel into waters close to southern Crete but in a region belonging to Libya. The second scenario foresees Turkey sending a research vessel into Greek waters but without accompanying warships.

The third foresees warships escorting a Turkish research vessel and the fourth scenario also foresees the simultaneous presence of Turkish fighter jets in Greek air space.

Greece is buoyed by the fact that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis secured the backing of his European Union peers at a recent summit where Turkey’s increasing transgressions in the region were condemned.

Also the particularly strong support of French President Emmanuel Macron is seen as a boon as is Greece’s strengthened ties with Israel.

The risk of a Turkish intervention in Greek waters is regarded as probable, however, more so than at any time since the two countries came close to war in the Imia crisis of 1996. 

According to an opinion poll carried out by Pulse for Skai last week, six in 10 Greeks are concerned about a recent spike in tensions between Athens and Ankara.