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Turkey rejecting the post-Lausanne order means War is coming
by Dimitris Eleas*
Turkey is a country with a large population and great ambition. Although in recent years, economically speaking it has been marching in the footsteps of Argentina with high inflation and volatile economy.Recep Tayyip Erdogan has done wonders, backed by a large section of the Turkish society. At the same time, is an elected Sultan with “madness of greatness”, as Le Monde once wrote. Mr Erdogan is planning the future carefully and from time to time, with such charisma that few politicians have, from balconies blames in speeches for all the misfortunes of Turkey the Greeks! Or, Mr Erdogan sits comfortably in a golden armchair and goes live on Turkish television, in order to give an interview and talk about “Blue Homeland”, as this is how Turkey describes its maritime zones. Showing maps too, with revised borders.
Modern Turkey in its foreign policy is behaving towards its neighbouring countries as if they were still provinces of the Ottoman Empire. Turkey is also known for its confrontations with Israel. It treats the eastern Mediterranean Sea as one private lake inside a zoo. It is attacking Syria and this is a harbinger of other attacks. He converts Hagia Sophia from a museum (1934) to a mosque (2020). But what does modern-day Turkey really pursue? Isn’t large enough a country that occupy on the planet 783,000 square kilometres?
Turkey in two neighbouring countries is also exercising psychological violence. One country is Greece; the other country is Cyprus (only occupying the southern part of the island, after the Turkish invasion of the northern part in 1974). These countries have weakened political leaderships, and Greece in particular has suffered a lot after the multilateral financial crisis of 2009-2018. Turkey, however is constantly in breach of its limits at sea and in the air. The Turks, too, underestimate the recent statements by U.S. Ambassador to Athens Geoffrey Pyatt, which are clear regarding the inhabited islands: “They have equal rights with the mainland”, always based on international law and international practice. And maybe, let’s just say, it’s not only psychological violence and constant bullying, but the Greeks are directly threatened on a daily basis by Turkey, a NATO ally.
Turkish diplomacy, a kind of “anti-diplomacy” in recent decades has repeatedly shown that it does not respect Greece and grossly violates Greece’s rights to its own seas. Turkey does not even like to hear about the maritime zones of Greece (a de facto exercise of its sovereign rights). Turkey went into an agreement with the Libyan government on maritime borders without taking into account the islands of Crete, Rhodes, as well as the smaller Greek islands of Kastellorizo and Strongyli. Imagine if one would claim that Hawaii, the UK, and Ireland don’t have Exclusive Economic Zone> In essence, Turkey signed (November 28, 2019) an agreement on “imaginary maritime bundary” with Libya, because if one reads the map carefully, he will see this absurdity immediately.
Turkey does not respect the maritime zones of Cyprus either, especially after the natural gas deposits discovered there. It also plans, from time to time, to make its own drilling in Cypriot waters, but also in the area that “borders” with Libya. By exercising its military muscle, it wants to impose “co-operation and sharing” as far as it can in the Aegean Sea, in the Cypriot Sea and in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. At the same time, Turkey opposes the construction of EastMed, the pipeline that will be built jointly by Israel, Cyprus and Greece, and via Italy, it will transport the natural gas to Europe. The agreed pipeline is also a response to the Turkey-Libya provocative deal. Another such response is the other mega project of the electrical interconnection of Crete with Israel via Cyprus.
And in the air, things are not better; Turkey’s warplanes not only violate Greek airspace, but thrive in the Aegean as well as in the Eastern Mediterranean. The Hellenic Air Force is hitting the air daily –training the Turkish pilots– but Turkey, cunningly with the dogfights, it manages to pass on an innocent mouse and cat game. With so many violations, the Turks are seeking to create a grey zone regime all over the Aegean Sea, something they have been trying to do since the 1996 Imia Crisis. Turks generally do what they can to humiliate their neighbours.
Turkey behaves like a drunk bigot who holds a knife in his hand –to mention the analyst Panagiotis Kondylis, who was studying, day and night, Thucydides and Carl von Clausewitz– and lifts it up (so the knife stays in the air). As it holds the knife, it continues to drink, shout, punch and kick right and left. Thus, countries like Greece, Cyprus and Armenia must find ways to stop this behaviour. They are mainly using diplomatic means to appease Turkey, which in turn is not appeased, and the futile policy that they follow is being read by Turkey as green light to continue psychologically blackmailing its neighbours. The United Nations, the United States, the European Union (led sadly by Germany, not France) and the international community must in turn find ways to intervene before it is too late for peace in the region, in the Balkans and in the world at large. One has to stop, the long hand holding the knife in the air, before it goes down and does big damage.
Although the scenario of war was unlikely in the past, it is now closer and like a ghost hovering over the Aegean Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. Calming tensions is only a short-term solution since today’s Turkey rejects the post-Lausanne order. The Treaty of Lausanne was signed on July 24, 1923 and enabled decades of stability. The exact day of the anniversary in 2020, Hagia Sophia became a mosque again. The loud symbolism speaks for itself, and so far it is obvious that Turkey has done wonders to bring against her the Americans, the French, the Armenians, the Israelis, the Arabs, the Indians, and above all, the Greeks. The main historical rival of Turkey, Greece must prepare for the coming war which will be another Battle of Thermopylae and Salamis.
*Dimitris Eleas is a New York City-based writer and political activist. His writings in Greek language have appeared in books, journals and newspapers. You can contact him via his e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.