Greece prepares for Erdogan Going Maverick, Turkey pushes provocations

ΑΝΚΑRA – The usual summer break to allow the two countries to take advantage of tourists is not planned this year, with Greece bracing for an anticipated increase in provocations from a volatile Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

He no longer speaks to Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the Turkish leader angered that the Greek prime minister had the ear of the US Congress in a speech and said – without mentioning Turkey – that US lawmakers should dismiss hope of US President Joe Biden to sell Turkey more F-16s.

Erdogan said he will again at some point send an energy research vessel and warships to search for energy off the Greek islands, disputes Greek territory and seas, covets the return of Aegan islands ceded by the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne which it does not recognize and demanded Greece take troops off the islands near the Turkish coast – citing the same agreement.

Unnamed Greek government sources told Kathimerini that Mitsotakis’ administration believes it is likely that Erdogan will increase violations of Greek airspace by Turkish fighter jets, especially with NATO – the defense alliance the two belong to – refusing to intervene, emboldening him.

All of this could turn into a long, hot summer for Greece, which has prepared its troops and navy in the Aegean for any outbreak of conflict, accidental or otherwise.

Greece also believes Erdogan will turn to sending more refugees and migrants to Greece and its islands, although Turkey is expected to contain them as part of an essentially suspended 2016 swap deal with Greece. the European Union.

Some 4.4 million people fleeing war, conflict and economic hardship in their countries of origin, mainly Syria and Afghanistan, but also sub-Saharan Africa and as far as Pakistan and Bangladesh, have traveled in Turkey hoping to get to the EU before the borders are closed to them.

Erdogan, who purged the civilian sector, military, courts and education system after a failed 2016 coup attempt against him and jailed journalists to stifle criticism, is also facing record inflation and to discontent.

This means, according to the newspaper, that he is likely to fuel his conservative base with belligerent rhetoric against Greece, including saying it would be cause for war if Greece doubled its maritime borders to 12 miles.

He also said he would veto Sweden and Finland’s hopes of joining NATO in what Greece sees as an attempt to blackmail the United States into selling Turkish F-16s. as well as F-35s whose purchase was banned when Erdogan authorized the Russian-made acquisition. S-400 missile defense systems.

These undermine NATO and could be used against Greece in a conflict, but the head of the defense alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, has admitted that he does not want to participate in the dispute between the countries.

If Erdogan comes under pressure to back down in the face of Sweden and Finland, the newspaper said he could try to calm his frustration over further provocations against Greece after the EU gave only lip service to Mitsotakis when the Turkish leader cut off all communications with him.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu warned last week that Ankara would challenge the sovereignty of Greek islands in the eastern Aegean if they are not fully demilitarized and cleared of all Greek troops.

Sharon P. Juarez