Athens-Ankara relations through prism of Greek people: 'We are worried for the first time in a while'

Amid an escalating war of words between politicians in Athens and Ankara, we have asked Greek people what they think about the current relations between the two countries. Many are worried the situation could escalate further, perhaps resulting in a military confrontation.

Nikolaos Stelya / Duvar

Tensions between Turkey and Greece have recently flared up again over maritime disputes in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean. Greek Defense Minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos has even expressed “readiness for military conflict with Turkey.” We have asked Greek people what they think about this war of words between the two sides.

Neither Turkey, nor Greece wants a hot incident: AthensNeither Turkey, nor Greece wants a hot incident: Athens

Yorgos is a taxi driver in Athens, who emigrated with his family from Istanbul to Greece when he was a child. According to Yorgos, Greek people have not been this anxious concerning the Turkey-Greece relations since the Kardak/Imia crisis of 1996. “I am worried for the first time in a long while,” he said.

Lisa, who is currently a master's student, is of the same opinion as Yorgos. “Our professors, who used to have a positive outlook for the Turkish-Greek dialogue and cooperation in my undergraduate years, are now using the word of 'war' quite frequently,” she said.

“International relations experts and diplomats who took roles during the İsmail Cem-Yorgo Papandreu period are of the opinion that a hot contact [military confrontation] is possible. This doesn't bode well,” she said. İsmail Cem served as Turkey's foreign minister from 1997 to 2002, while Yorgo Papandreu served as Greece's prime minister between 2009-2011.

The Greek-Turkish relations also occupy a very important place at Greek media outlets, which have been warning that “unpleasant events loom" concerning the issues in the Aegean and Mediterranean seas.

Turkey warns Greece to be careful against 'bad jokes' after Athens expresses 'readiness for military conflict'Turkey warns Greece to be careful against 'bad jokes' after Athens expresses 'readiness for military conflict'

Greece's main opposition SYRIZA party is also concerned about the tense relations with Ankara. SYRIZA has recently demanded that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis hold an extraordinary meeting with opposition parties' leaders and discuss the course of action.

The Greek Communist Party (KKE) on the other hand said that “capitalist and imperialist powers” such as the U.S., NATO, EU and Russia are responsible from “pushing Greece and Turkey into dangerous adventures in the Aegean and Mediterranean seas.” “Greece and Turkey's workers need to say 'stop' to the plans of imperialist powers,” according to the KKE.

'Greeks, Turks should not fall into traps of nationalist circles'

Alkinos, a young activist who supports the Greek left, has asked Turkish people “not to fall into the traps of nationalist circles.”

“If they i.e. capitalists and imperialists, are urging 'war,' we will then go out on the streets and cry out for 'peace.' We will tackle our countries' problems shoulder to shoulder with the working class in Turkey,” Alkinos said.