Turkey’s involvement in Nagorno-Karabakh war must irk NATO the most among the conflicts in the mix it has to deal with. This is because it has to do with its very original task of dealing with “the Russian threat.”
The summer of 2020 may have passed with no war and Turkey-Greece relations may at least be “warless,” with “exploratory talks“ on the way, but they are now in a “cold war” period. Greece and Turkey have lost the peace between them somewhere deep in the Aegean — for the time being.
Turkey said it will hold a military exercise off northwest Cyprus for the next two weeks, amid growing tension with Greece over disputed claims to exploration rights in the east Mediterranean. The European Union's top diplomat said on Aug. 28 the bloc was preparing sanctions against Turkey that could be discussed at a summit in late September in response to Ankara's standoff with EU member Greece.
Erdoğan has accused Greece of "sowing chaos" in the eastern Mediterranean Sea and of acting "in a spoiled manner." "Greece has declared its own Navtex unlawfully and in a spoiled manner. With this approach, Greece has sown a chaos that it will not be able to escape from," Erdoğan said on Aug. 24.
If there is one beneficiary of the Greece-Turkey crisis, it is France’s President Emmanuel Macron. Macron has a very clear stance on backing Greece, which stands in deep contrast to Germany and the European Union Commission, both of which are hesitant to do so.
Turkey calls for cooperation to ease tensions in East Med after sending survey ship to disputed waters
Turkey announced on Aug. 10 that it dispatched a vessel named Oruç Reis to conduct a seismic survey in a disputed area of the eastern Mediterranean, a move that Greece said was "illegal." Turkey dismissed the Greek objections, with President Erdoğan saying that Ankara was ready to cooperate in finding "an acceptable formula that protects the rights of all."
The seismic research vessel Oruç Reis is now parked inside the port of Antalya. The magic behind the rapprochement is named “Merkel” — but the recent spike of the Euro (and the U.S. dollar) vis-à-vis the Turkish lira may have to do with the sudden change of hearts in Ankara.
Turkey could pause energy-exploration operations in the Eastern Mediterranean for a while pending talks with Greece, Presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın said on July 28. Saying that there is a basis for dialogue between Ankara and Athens, Kalın noted, "We're ready to discuss all bilateral issues with Greece without pre-conditions upon the orders of our president."
Relations between Turkey and the European Union may indeed be back on track, but which track is that exactly? Just when I had given credit to EU-Turkey rapprochement, despite my usually pessimistic self, the usual flare-ups with Greece started up again.