Athens, Greece – From the beginning of the year, when Greece cried Turkey’s decision to support Libya with the movement on 27 November 2019, Turkey and Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) signed a bilateral memorandum of understanding demarcating maritime boundaries between the two countries and enhancing security and military cooperation, Turkey has been trying, with increasing persistence, to “decipher and isolate” Greece with its irrational “maximalist demands” in Aegean and Mediterranean from its European Union members.
At first, Turkey deciphered and circulated violations of Greek authorities’ recorded mistreatment of migrants in Aegean sea. Then, these inhumane mistreatment of migrants presented Greece as the party responsible for human rights violations of international law: After sending exploratory vessels, accompanied by warships, into Mavi Vatan (Blue Homeland) waters in Aegean and Mediterranean Turkey’s exclusive economic zone, Turkey -including TRNC- declared that it was defending its rights and interests against Greek and Southern Cypriot Administration intentions. In its clash with France, Turkey warned the Greeks that they would “pay a high price” for allying themselves with France. So, it was natural that Greece should attack Turkey for scandal German frigate’s inspection of a Turkish ship enroute to Libya in Mediterranean.
The EU’s Operation Irini is under the rotating leadership of a Greek commander. Because it does suit Greece to pick a fight with Turkey a couple of weeks before the European Council is to discuss possible sanctions against Turkey, Greece chooses to focus on Turkey and, thereby, European Council, rather than on the EU mission itself. Because Greece and Germany aimed to obtain a trump against Turkey by scandalously raiding the Turkish cargo ship. If this calculated vile scenario had been a success, and eventually if sanctions against Turkey are ever adopted, the European Council would be sure that this is the fault of Turkey, not of Greece and Southern Cyprus’s policies.
Indeed, it is a staple of Greek diplomacy to accuse others of doing what it itself does. However, Turkey does not occupy or demand any other country’s territory; it does not jail and pushback political immigrants, asylum seekers in deep cold waters of the Aegean Sea; it does not wage war on any of its minorities nor does it export violence; its Muslim Turkish community in Western Thrace are banned and deprived from electing their religious affairs leaders “Muftis”. Greece openly infringed the disarmament status of all Aegean islands against Turkey, in violation of the 1923 Lausanne Peace Treaty. That is why Greece often makes claims that defy logic and seriousness in its effort to present the Turks as the region’s troublemakers.
The problem is that although this trick is not as successful as Greece would like, the continuous attacks on Turkey are enough for some in Europe to believe that things may be more complicated than they actually are – one country violates international law and continuously threatens others with violence. Furthermore, the continual attacks against the Turks stoke the fire of Greek nationalism, which, in turn, provokes reactions and alarm in Turkey.
It is not enough for Turkey to defend itself against every attack. It needs to persuade not only international opinion but Greece’s citizens, too, that the tension is the result of Greece’s choices. This is not easy but has to be done. Turkey’s open suggestion to Greece it should read the book of recent Armenia – Azerbaijan war. Because, the neighbor needs the neighbor’s Ashes!