Tensions in Greek-Turkish relations remain high, creating a climate that justifies anything but complacency. Turkey once again reacted negatively to the fact that one more major Western power expressed its multifaceted support for Greece. This time Ankara is irked by Germany, whose foreign minister on Friday criticized Ankara for, among other things, disputing the sovereignty of Greek islands near its coastline.
Annalena Baerbock, who visited Greece and then Turkey last week, declared that “many questions of international law are complicated, but some are also very simple. Greek islands ‒ Lesvos, Chios, Rhodes and many, many others ‒ are Greek territory, and no one has the right to raise questions over that.”
In other words, she stated the obvious, but she did so at a time when, in the context of a new strategy that borders on the absurd, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other Turkish officials have begun to question the sovereignty of the Greek islands in the eastern Aegean.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu even accused Germany of not being an honest broker and always siding with Athens. That is not true, and not only in regard to bilateral relations. Concerning immigration, the head of German diplomacy directly criticized Athens during her visit.
But Berlin, like Washington and Paris, is not “taking sides” in the complex web of Greek-Turkish relations. It is firmly in favor of dialogue between the two countries and the peaceful resolution of any differences that exist. It is simply trying to be rational, and by doing so when it comes to the irrational claims against Greek sovereignty, ends up supporting the obvious.
Ankara continues on a slippery slope that can only damage Turkey. Instead, it should accept the fact that Greece is a member of the EU, realize that threatening rhetoric, provocative actions and exaggerations of any kind, backfire, and understand that revisionism is a dangerous policy that cannot be tolerated, especially in Europe.
If Turkey calms its rhetoric, stops its military overflights over Greek islands, and its National Assembly annuls the threat of war against Greece, the atmosphere will be conducive to a normal, substantial and potentially effective dialogue between neighbors.
Different behavior will benefit its economy, enhance its regional role, and also facilitate the acquisition of advanced military equipment, be it fighter jets or submarines.