CLOSE
Loading...
13° Nicosia,
21 March, 2019
 

Turkish strategy

Put simply, Turkey is making it clear, and in a brutal manner, that it will not halt the process of Finlandization

Costas Iordanidis

Costas Iordanidis

The latest Imia crisis simply serves as confirmation of Ankara’s longstanding strategy as an expression of nervousness or frustration over ongoing developments at home.

Put simply, Turkey is making it clear, and in a brutal manner, that it will not halt the process of Finlandization which has been gradually at work in the Aegean.

The deal reached on January 31, 1996 after the first Imia crisis said “no ships, no troops, no flags.” The deal was respected only in part as both countries have their military ships and coast guard vessels patrolling the area on a constant basis. Hence Washington’s equal-distance policy. The US intervention in 1996 defused the crisis, but it did not solve the problem.

A key turning point in the Finlandization of the Aegean was the crisis of 1987 when Greece decided to halt its unilateral hydrocarbon exploration across the Aegean. After that came the ruling by the Turkish assembly in 1995 that any unilateral expansion of Greek territorial waters would constitute a casus belli, Ankara’s claims of “grey zones” in the Aegean in 1996, and the Madrid agreement in 1997 which acknowledged Turkey’s legitimate interests in the Aegean.

We are rightly worried about the increasing activity of the Turkish Air Force in the Aegean

All the above burden Greek-Turkish relations, and are hard for any government in Athens to digest.

Some were surprised to hear the commander of the Turkish armed forces saying that Turkey has the capability to conduct two military operations at the same time. But this has been the case for decades, and it was confirmed with the formation of its Aegean Army.

We are rightly worried about the increasing activity of the Turkish Air Force in the Aegean. But the Turkish Air Force was purged after the attempted coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2016. The new pilots need to be trained before operating in Syria, and it appears they are acquiring the necessary skills by engaging in mock dogfights against Greek fighter jets.

The problems in the Aegean have, according to Ankara, been placed under control. Turkey’s aim now is to neutralize Athens over Kastellorizo. As per Cyprus, it was to be expected that Turkey would react to Nicosia’s offshore hydrocarbon exploration, not just as a guarantor force, but as an occupying one. The cooperation pacts signed between Israel, Cyprus and Greece sound great in theory, but they are little more than that without military backing.

After 1974, when Greece enjoyed military superiority at sea and in the air (yet did nothing to stop the Turkish invasion of Cyprus), Turkey went on to build a military advantage and seems determined to make use of it. This, unfortunately, is how things stand.

By Costas Iordanidis

TAGS
Turkey  |  Greece  |  Aegean  |  Iordanidis

Comment: Latest Articles

Marina Economides calls on government to answer questions as passing the buck is alive and well

Pass the buck

Folks served baloney as politicians openly resort to blame shifting tactics
Marina Economides
 |  OPINION
For a strong Europe

For a strong Europe

Does the rest of Europe want to see Germany in a new leading role?
Alexis Papachelas
 |  OPINION
Marina Economides explores the nuanced slogan ‘you know why’ to uncover a fundamental lack of political culture

You know why

Lack of political culture goes back years and the alt right is on the rise because of it
Marina Economides
 |  OPINION
Eleni Xenou finds hope in a young man’s life and work on the divided island of Cyprus

This is B’s story

Man's peace effort in Cyprus speaks for itself, going above and beyond fixed notions of the past
Eleni Xenou
 |  OPINION
Andreas Paraschos sees energy opportunities that ought to give rise to a state governed by the rule of law

Game Changer

The time has come for big decisions along with a change in the Cypriot mindset
Andreas Paraschos
 |  OPINION
Greece will never be able to break the deadlocks unless its politicians come to an understanding and reach an agreement on some radical changes

Wrestling in the Colosseum

Everyone played a part in drenching Greek society in hatred. Some did it for the votes, others for the TV ratings, and others ...
Alexis Papachelas
 |  OPINION
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaking to the Press in Geneva

The Guterres Framework

In an era where the public can change allegiances based on one tweet, sincerity and integrity are greatly appreciated
Yiannis Kafkarides
 |  OPINION
X