Ankara is scaling up its aggressive behavior in the wake of Greece’s defense deal with France and before the signing of a five-year extension to the Greece-US military cooperation agreement.
Turkish officials say the country is ready to resume drilling and exploration activities in the areas that it considers the Turkish continental shelf. It is also expressing its determination to defend its rights and interests across the so-called “Blue Homeland.”
Meanwhile, the recent letter from its permanent representative to the United Nations resurrected the issue of the “demilitarization” of Greece’s eastern Aegean islands, going as far as to claim that demilitarization is a condition of Greek sovereignty over them.
Athens is faced with an organized campaign to challenge Greek sovereignty. It’s a repetition of the provocations seen during the summer of 2020, and they are driven by Ankara’s perceived sense of military superiority at the present moment. That is, before the delivery of the state-of-the-art Rafale fighter jets and the Belharra-class frigates which will alter the balance of power in the Aegean Sea.
Ankara’s aim is to threaten (or even trigger) an incident that will test Greece’s defense deals, as well as send a message to France and the United States that it is not comprehensible for any sort of understanding and arrangement in the region being reached without a veritable superpower (according to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, at least) being asked.
It is evident that by taking steps on all fronts, Greece has upped the game in the Greek-Turkish tug-of-war and it is forcing President Erdogan to react. Or he stands to suffer damage internationally due to the changing equilibrium but also at home due to the nationalist mood fanned among the domestic public.
Turkey has NATO’s second biggest military, Greece has a significant deterrent force, international law and powerful allies by its side. Dealing with Turkey’s aggressiveness requires smart handling and a cool head. At the same time, Athens must steer clear of provocations and bravado.
At times like these, the government’s effort deserves support from all political parties. Throughout its history, Greece was defeated only when it was alienated from its allies and divided within.