The recent tension and crisis in the Eastern Mediterranean are turning into a coordinated campaign to contain Turkey in an energy-rich strategic region. Turkey is the country with the longest shores in the Mediterranean and has been calling on international actors to negotiate a fair deal on the entire Eastern Mediterranean region based on mutual interests.
In the meantime, the Turkish navy is mobilized to defend Turkey’s sovereignty and interests by challenging the expansionist claims of Greece with its operations in the region. Ankara’s call to diplomacy has been countered by Athens’ reckless moves that are provoked by Paris. This emerging anti-Turkey alliance bases its claims on nothing other than irresponsible ambitions and hatred toward Turkey’s increasing international influence.
Principles of fairness, mutual benefits, international law and good neighborly relations are all violated in this Turkophobic endeavor. What is more disappointing is that the European Union, which claims to be a union of values, demonstrates its solidarity with two young, ambitious leaders that damage the foundational principles of the union.
The EU is not based on the principles of mafia-like solidarity, aggressive expansionism and ultra-nationalist discourses. The union is based on the liberal democratic values that promote the idea of solidarity around mutual interests, mutual gains, and more importantly, rational procedures and institutions.
In the current crisis, the EU is acting as a mafia-like council, except for a few leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, by demonstrating solidarity with their impish child, Athens.
What is more disappointing is that some European leaders pretend to act as mediators. This mimics the American mediation in Palestinian-Israeli talks, which have brought no constructive outcomes for decades.
The U.S. always worked to protect Israeli interests against Palestinian rights. American involvement in the Palestinian-Israel conflict had always been one of the fundamental obstacles to a fair and sustainable solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
If the U.S. had applied some pressure to tame Israel’s ambitions, the most protracted conflict of the modern era could have been resolved by now. Now some EU leaders pretend to act like a mediator in the Eastern Mediterranean crisis, yet they are not committed to the principles of fairness.
What is more disappointing is that now Greece is turning into the new Israel in the region. Greek leaders are adopting the strategies that are pursued by Israel’s expansionist leaders. The current situation should be a warning sign for EU leadership.
Like Israel, Greece insists on its maximalist claims in the Eastern Mediterranean. What is more absurd is that Greece has a fragile connection to the Eastern Mediterranean, except for islands that are hundreds of miles away from the Greek mainland.
Greece’s maximalist claims are much more absurd and more unrealistic than Israel’s expansionist agenda. Greece finds permanent and unconditional support from the EU, no matter how irrationally it acts. This is like Israel’s sponsorship by the U.S.
Greece permanently violates international laws and the principles of fairness and peaceful neighborly relations. Greek authorities are permanently violating international laws by expanding in the Aegean Sea and arming the islands that must remain demilitarized according to international agreements.
Ultranationalist Greek leaders are promoting the Megali Idea, or Great Idea, that expresses the goal of reviving the Byzantine Empire by establishing a Greek state, an aim that was buried in Anatolia 98 years ago. They trust strong Hellenic lobbies in the U.S. and Europe. Those lobbies may hurt some of Turkey’s international interests. They may put some pressure on Ankara, but if there is a violation of Turkey’s sovereignty and fundamental national security interests, they may be insufficient to defend Greece against the Turkish military might.
Turkey is much stronger militarily and more resilient and experienced to fight than any other country in the region. Greece is pretending to act like a new Israel, but Turkey is not Palestine or any other state in the region in terms of its military capabilities. It would be in Athens’ interest to adopt some humility and not try to change the status quo if it wants to prevent any unexpected losses.
Athens’ and Paris’ aggressive and unfair actions are producing some unexpected results, which is terrible news for both capitals. It is necessary to recognize that after years of polarization and domestic political tensions instigated by internal and external actors, the Turkish public is unified against Greek expansionism and Athens’ maximalist claims in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Turkish people and Turkish leaders are becoming united around a more nationalistic agenda under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. French President Emmanuel Macron and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis wanted to weaken and drive Turkey into a corner by their attacks, yet their maximalist claims that violated Turkey’s rights produced the reverse outcomes for them. Turkish people and politicians, regardless of their ideological and political views, are unified around Ankara’s plan in the Eastern Mediterranean.
It is the responsibility of EU leaders to stop this escalation, which would not help to promote the interests or values of the union. Franco-Greek aggression is not just against Turkey’s national interests; it is at the same time trouble for the union, which is facing some significant challenges. Turkey seems to be robust, resilient and united around this issue. Any further aggression against Ankara’s interests will only backfire for the opponents of Turkey.
[Daily Sabah, 1 September 2020]