Athens made very strong statements against Turkey. “We are not Syria, which was destroyed,” – say in Greece, directly hinting that they are ready to armed clashes because of the constant “Turkish provocations”. Its role in bringing the two NATO countries, oddly enough, could Russia play.
The degree of tension between Greece and Turkey reached the highest level. Athens has reacted strongly to recent provocations of Turkey in the area of the disputed Islands in the Aegean sea. Greek foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias in an interview with Kathimerini noted that the actions of Ankara are very close to the red line in Greek-Turkish relations. Regular visits by Turkish warships into Greek territorial waters and they produce shooting test the patience of Athens, which is already on the wane.
“Turkey is mistaken if he thinks that due to the economic crisis, the weakened defenses of Greece”
Relations of Greece and Turkey has long remained difficult. However, it seems that this time the situation is indeed close to the boiling point, so Yes that could escalate into armed clashes. The Greeks say that their main weapon is international law, and between an appeal to international courts and war Athens would choose the first.
At the same time, Athens got tired of only operate through diplomacy and stress that this is not the only available tools. Kotzias said: “We are not Syria, which was destroyed, and not a disorganized Iraq. Turkey is mistaken if he thinks that due to the economic crisis, the defense of Greece weakened.” “In connection with problems in the economy our concern for the safety and sovereignty of our country even more than before,” he added.
Although Greek rhetoric aimed solely to defend itself, indicative of the fact that they are willing to consider the use of force to protect against the “Turkish aggression.” Turkey has repeatedly violated the airspace of Greece, the Turkish ships regularly swim in the territorial waters of the Greeks, passing dangerously close to the Greek ships. With such an abundance of provocative actions risk a military confrontation is very high. Because in addition to patience and calculating both sides of a role play case. Thus, if progress in negotiations did not appear and the parties will not abandon aggressive rhetoric against each other, the Aegean sea has become the new hotbed of conflict in Europe.
In addition to the acute situation in the Aegean sea, the degradation of relations can be traced in Greek-Turkish dialogue on a Cyprus settlement (KU), which is currently stalled. The blame for this lays entirely Kotzias on Ankara. He stressed that Turkey delays and complicates the negotiations. The Minister of foreign Affairs considers unacceptable the unwillingness of the Turks to guarantee a complete withdrawal of its troops from Cyprus “Ankara needs to compromise in this matter, or to declare openly that it intends to disrupt the negotiations.” Instead she, according to him, deliberately puts an “uncomfortable” new requirements to shift the responsibility for the failure of KU to Greece or the European Union.
As one of the responses of Greece to such a policy, Turkey can consider the refusal of Athens to give Ankara eight Turkish soldiers, Turks suspected of involvement in the coup attempt in the country. Although the Greeks explain its decision to the independence of the Greek judicial system and the threat to the life of the Turkish military in case of extradition, these actions are a clear demonstrative.
This tension in Greek-Turkish relations could become a new headache for the West. Complex relations of Athens and Ankara have repeatedly created problems in making decisions within NATO. The Alliance will have to make every effort to prevent the transition of Greece and Turkey from mutual provocation to armed clashes. If such a situation arises, it will be an unprecedented event in the history of the unit. In this case, NATO will be faced with questions, the direction of the member to accept and the Alliance will have to operate on.
The EU, despite its complicated history of relations with Turkey, is also disadvantageous to the aggravation between the Greeks and Turks, especially after the hard fought agreement with Turkey on migration, though slightly ease the crisis of refugees in the EU.
At the same time, the EU and the US is not sufficiently aware of the seriousness of the problem of settlement of Greek-Turkish relations. The United States after 1990 years much lost interest in this problem. As pointed Kotzias, only the EU is currently actively involved in the negotiation process between Greece and Turkey, but his efforts insufficient. Although Brussels and tries to demonstrate its support to Athens, he is not ready for confrontation with Ankara.
In these circumstances the hopes of the Greeks to a certain extent imposed on Russia. On the one hand, in Athens understand that Moscow and Ankara are now actively coordinating their efforts in Syria and generally demonstrate a high level of bilateral relations, on the other hand, this factor may help them to exert influence on the Turks with Russia. In addition, as stressed by Kotzias, the actions of Turkey in the Aegean sea cannot fail to cause concern for Russia – and if Erdogan thinks that Russia will put up with this problem, it is simply poor knowledge of the peculiarities of Russian foreign policy.