Due to climate change, Springs are getting shorter while summers and winters are extending. It seems that Turkish-Greek relations are also affected from global warming. The warm climate which came after a painful year will not last long. Following the end of summer, as a result of NAVTEXES iassued by both parties, the harsh rhetoric used in public statements, the exchange of letters between Permanent Representatives in New York and arms race of Greece created an atmosphere of tension. It is feared that these developments will be followed by the presence of vessels once again in eastern mediterrenean.
What happened in the last one month?
A symposium under the title of “Sea of islands and neighbourhood relations with Greece” was held on 9th of September in İzmir. The symposium was inaugrated by a video message from President Erdoğan.The defense minister Akar as well as chief of staff and commanders of 3 forces were all among the participants. The discussions were not limited to Aegean questions but varied from illegal migration to support given to terrorism by Greece. Although there was no reaction from Greek side, the title, timing and the high level participation must have been noted
On 11th september, Greece announced that she has ordered 6 more Rafale aircraft from France bringing the total to 24. During the visit of Greek PM Mitsotakis to France, A strategic partnership agreement in the field of defence and security and a memorandum of understanding for purchasing 3 frigates were signed on 28 September. The total of those two projects amount to 6 billion euros.
On 30th September in his letter sent to UN Secretary General, Feridun Sinirlioğlu once again registered the objection of Turkey to militarization of Aegean islands in violation of international treaties. In the letter it was also underlined for the first time that those militarization efforts will jeopardise the jurisdiction of greece over the islands.
On 1st of october, Turkey and Greek Cypriot Administration issued NAVTEXES in the eastern mediterenean. On 3rd of october a Greek Cypriot research vessel was sent away by Turkish navy from her continental shelf. Finaly Ömer Çelik, spokesperson of AKP stated that blue land was an indispensable part of motherland and Turkey would be obliged to defend it at any cost.
Among all this fuss,the 63rd round of explotary talks washeld in Ankara. As usual no statement was issued after the meeting.
Strategic cooperation agreement between Greece and France
The timing of the strategic cooperation agreement is worthwhile. The agreement comprising of 5 chapters and 31 articles came after less than 2 weeks when Australia announced her decision to buy nuclear submarines from US instead of diesel powered ones from France. Germany is in process of forming her new coalition; UK is busy with solving the truck drivers issue and US is trying to repair her ties with France. There could have been no better timing. As far as the content is concerned, there are a lot of words without flesh like cooperation, consultation, exchange of information.The fact that the agreement has been signed by both presidents and foreign ministers is not a common practice in diplomacy. Although in article 3 the primary responsibility for the security in Europe remained with NATO, there are a lot of references to European Security Identity which bring to one’s mind that French experts were more active during the drafting. The most important is article 2 where it is stated that in case of an mutually agreed agression to the territory of oneside, the parties will assist each other with all available means including use of armed forces. This article may be an headache for Greece in NATO.
Debate at the parliament
The agreement was critisezed by the opposition during its ratification at the parliament on the grounds that the wording of the article 2 was vague regarding its coverage and it did not meet the security requirements of Greece in the Aegean. A member of ruling party was expelled when he claimed that communism was a bigger threat to Greece than Turkey. How lucky the Turks are to be in the first place among the enemies. The agreement was ratified by 191 votes in the Parliament among 300 MPs. It is doubtfull that French soldiers will risk their lives for the sake of Palikarya.
Greece is shooting at her own feet
No need to worry for Turkey. If one looks at the military balance published by ISSI, It is very clear that Greece lacks far behind Turkey in terms of military strength.They were provoked by the Brits when they ventured Asia minor disaster. Now they are falling into trap enginered by France. They have not come out of the economic crisises yet. With regard the ratio of foreign debt to GDP, they are still ranking in the first place by %240 among the OECD countries. What to say, let God give them wisdom.