The practice of informing the international community with proofs and maps of Turkish delinquency was considered to have been tested and successful in the US, resulting in its adoption as a key tool of Greek diplomacy
A new “war” has recently started between Athens and Ankara. The “map war”. And I explain. Kyriakos Mitsotakis went to Washington in May with the aim of briefing both US President Joe Biden and the US Congress on the Turkish policy of tension and provocation, in a way that would make clear the dangers it poses, not only on the basis of a planned “hot episode”, but also for bringing an “accident” with disproportionate consequences much closer.
An “accident” that could raise the tension between two “allies” in NATO, such as Greece and Turkey, and which if it happens will create a deep and dangerous rift in the Alliance, at a time when unity is stressed that it must be indisputable. To clearly explain this and to show it in a realistic way, Kyriakos Mitsotakis arrived in Washington equipped with a folder of maps. All the maps that highlighted the Turkish provocation. Maps of violations and overflights. The maps of Turkish claims and contestation. The maps of the “Blue Homeland”.
With the same maps in hand, Nikos Dendias entered the office of American counterpart Anthony Blinken after the Mitsotakis-Biden meeting. “Here are the islands. Here are the Turkish coasts. Here is Souda. Here is Alexandroupolis. This is where Turkish fighters fly. Here the danger for civil aviation aircraft. Here the violation of the sovereign rights of Greece”. It’s one thing to see it on the map and another to describe it in words, said diplomats who were present at the meetings, describing the reaction of American officials who were confronted with the evidence and could not help but recognize the dangers.
Of decisive importance for Athens were the violations of the national airspace by Turkish fighter jets that flew within 2.5 nautical miles of Alexandroupoli, immediately after the Mitsotakis-Biden meeting, at a time when overflights and violations had broken all records. The case of Alexandroupolis and the importance it has for the USA against the background of the war in Ukraine was used by Athens to particularly arouse the interest of Washington and beyond.
The practice of documenting the maps of Turkish delinquency with proof and evidence was considered to have been tested and successful in the US, resulting in its adoption as a key tool of Greek diplomacy. Mitsotakis also applied it in his meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent to all Greek embassies abroad 16 maps showing the escalation of Turkish claims and challenges from 1972 until today. Sixteen maps that provoked Ankara’s intense irritation and activated her reflexes. Because it was perhaps the first time that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs made such a move officially and proceeded to publish the maps in question.
Even if Turkey is the one that first started circulating maps with its claims, trying to legitimize them both through the UN and illegal agreements, such as the Turkish-Libyan memorandum, but also through propaganda, to support the narrative of the “Blue Homeland” ».
The map with the number 4 of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is in fact identified with the “Maniatis map” (s.s.: the Sea Shelf Map / EEZ of Law 4001/2011) was the one that caused the biggest reaction in Ankara. A map identical to the map of Seville for Ankara. Even if Greece has not submitted coordinates to the UN. A map which, according to the diplomats, is Greece’s starting point in the field of claims. It is the map that gives full effect to Kastellorizo and shows the EEZ of Greece meeting the EEZ of Cyprus. However, Athens and Nicosia have never signed a relevant demarcation agreement. Something that, for many, also shows the moods of flexibility and discussion between Athens and Ankara.
However, the publication of this map by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs acted as a nail for Turkey. The reaction can be considered the map of the Gray Wolves in Bahtceli. “Many maps have been circulating lately,” commented diplomats in both Turkey and Greece. With sources with knowledge of developments in the neighborhood noting as an element to be taken into account by Athens that the specific map was adopted by Bakhceli without any comment from Erdogan. And sometimes what the Turkish president chooses not to say is more important…
Bilateral relations between Greece and Turkey are not enjoying their best days. And even if the situation does not indicate an alarm, the “fire” is very easy to be ignited by a random event, as those who read the developments warn. And the wish for a “calm summer” remains.