Athens expects “calm waters”, but also prepares for “stormy” ones

The government’s assessment that the events of 2020 will not be repeated in the summer is mainly based on the fact that Turkey, by claiming the purchase of F16s from the US and then Biden’s recommendation for “security in the Aegean”, will avoid extreme challenges that would shake air all this programming and would offer “weapons” to the anti-Turkish lobby in Congress.

Nikos Meletis

But even if Turkey has so far avoided a serious provocation, the rhetoric in recent weeks from both Erdogan and the Çavuşoğlu-Akar duo suggests an attempt to shape the landscape so that any challenge on the ground is legitimized in advance.

And these messages provoke the mobilization of Athens, which draws up operational plans for every eventuality and at the same time diplomatically looks for barriers to a possible escalation of Turkish aggression.

The daily raising of issues such as the alleged violations of Turkish airspace and Turkish territorial waters, the alleged violation of the Treaty of Lausanne, both for the Muslim minority of Thrace and the obligation to demilitarize the islands, the promotion of the non-recognition of Greek airspace space of 10 nm but also the claim that the flight of Turkish fighters over islands which Turkey considers as “gray zones” does not constitute overflight, are part of an operation to delegitimize Greece and legitimize any Turkish action against our country.

Athens coolly faces announcements such as that of the Turkish energy minister F. Domez who announced the departure of the new Turkish drilling rig on August 9 for drilling in the Mediterranean, who, wanting to keep the suspense, contented himself with declaring that Erdogan himself would be the one to announce at what point Abdulhamid Han will turn.

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Estimates are that Turkey will likely choose to target the Cypriot EEZ where it has conducted a series of seismographic surveys for yet another illegal drilling. And the choice of Oikopedos is important, but without underestimating the magnitude of such a challenge, it is obvious that the reactions will be exhausted as in the previous times, in the condemnation statements, in the appeals to the EU. and the UN.

But no one can rule out that Turkey will choose to exert pressure on Greece by sending the drilling rig to areas of the Turkolivikos Memorandum. Such a move will obviously heighten the tension in the region as Athens is not going to accept a repeat of the episode with the Oruc Reis when he carried out investigations at the territorial waters of Kastellorizos, nor in attempts to approach areas east of Crete.

Turkey may consider that this will be an opportunity to create fait accompli and even in the case of a third party intervention, the recommendation will be to start… dialogue. Such a development will simply put the “Eastern Mediterranean” issue on the agenda with powers such as the US maintaining a… balanced stance as the region concerns an unbounded continental shelf.

Greece is moving so that there are deterrent moves that will make it clear to Turkey that any attempt at illegal intervention in the Eastern Mediterranean will have negative consequences for Turkey as well.

Athens has informed Washington as well as European capitals that any attempt by Turkey to create a fait accompli with Abdulhamid Han will cause serious escalation at a time when the West and NATO should be focused on Ukraine.

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German Foreign Minister A. Berbock, who will be in Athens from today and tomorrow will have talks with N. Dendias, will be fully informed about the situation and also about Athens’ determination not to allow a repeat of 2020, while the context will also be highlighted of the decisions of the E.U. for the Eastern Mediterranean.

On Friday afternoon, shortly after his meeting with Ms. Burbock, N. Dendias will go to Paris for a meeting with his new French counterpart, who will also inform her of the developments and prepare her for the Greek “red lines” if Turkey escalates. And the discussion will certainly take place in the light of the Greek-French Agreement, which also provides for a mutual assistance clause.

After Athens, Mrs. Berbock will visit Ankara, but certainly neither Chancellor Soltz nor Mrs. Berbock have the same persuasion in Erdogan as Mrs. Merkel, nor does Paris have such a level of influence in Turkey.

But both Washington, Berlin and Paris will now know the very delicate balances that are being formed and they will not be able to avoid their responsibilities if they do not intervene proactively to convince Mr. Erdogan to stay, for better or for worse. away from the Greek continental shelf.

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