The Russian invasion of Ukraine worries Greece: will Turkey move?

ATHENS — Watching the European Union and the West waver over what to do about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — which only resulted in financial sanctions — has raised fears in Greece that the president Turkish Recep Tayyip Erdogan does not increase the tension and does not even take the Greek islands which he said he wanted to return.

This was raised by Kathimerini’s diplomatic and defense editor, Vassilis Nedos, who wrote that the invasion “could have a collateral effect on its relations with Turkey”.

This was in reference to Erdogan – as Putin has done with Ukraine – questioning historical borders, with Turkey advocating a so-called blue homeland doctrine which has seen him covet ceded islands under the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923.

After the annexation of Crimea in 2014 – which Putin got away with, including Russia allegedly shooting down a commercial airliner – the report says the invasion challenges “existing borders and reliance on violence to create fait accompli… (this) causes a lot of concern in Athens, because it opens Pandora’s box of border revisionism.

Although Greece has added to its defense arsenal, including taking steps to buy French and American warships and to upgrade American-made F-16 fighter jets, it has also seen Erdogan warn of a arms race and even a conflict if Greece does not demilitarize. islands near the Turkish coast.

He also said that if Greece doubled its territorial waters from 6 to 12 miles – which would give Greece control of 71.5% of the seas between them, it would be cause for war.

“With its aggressive move, Russia directly challenges the post-Cold War status quo in Eastern Europe and could provide an apology to anyone who claims to have been treated ‘unfairly’ by history,” the report said. report.

Nedos wrote that it appears Erdogan’s aim is to indirectly challenge international law and the cornerstones of the European security system, one of which is the Treaty of Lausanne – which he does not recognize unless invoke to the advantage of Turkey.

The report says Greece is particularly concerned about Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s mention of the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” as it refers to the name that only Turkey uses for the occupied northern third of Cyprus. Cyprus that no other country in the world accepts – allegedly including Russia so far.

This has caused more concern in Cyprus, especially with Turkey drilling for oil and gas in Cypriot waters in defiance of soft European Union sanctions, and Erdogan has said he will send a research vessel again energy and a warship off the Greek islands.

This includes Crete, where the US Navy has a base in Souda Bay and Greece’s renewed military cooperation pact with the US sees a greater US military presence as a bulwark against Turkish aggression.

Russia had been a defender of Cyprus – the island is home to wealthy Russian money and has a strong Russian presence – but now Cyprus is agreeing to tougher EU sanctions that could prevent Russia from using the SWIFT system to transfer money more easily internationally. .

“Russia’s apparent adoption of Turkish arguments is a new and unwelcome development,” the report said, adding that there is no cause for alarm yet and that Greek officials doubt that – at least for now – Turkey is acting.

Sharon P. Juarez