Why Turkey, Greece remain on collision course over Aegean islands | Conflict

The Jap Mediterranean and the islands of the Aegean, the place Greek and Turkish claims overlap, are as soon as once more within the focus amid the newest dispute between Greece and Turkey.

The complexity of the difficulty beneath worldwide regulation is now additional exacerbated by an absence of diplomacy.

The 2 NATO allies are nonetheless in a dispute over islands within the Aegean Sea. Specifically, Turkey rejects what it calls a “militarisation” of some islands by Greece.

Hasan Gogus, former Turkish ambassador to Greece and Austria, instructed Al Jazeera that Turkey’s stance is legitimate.

“We’ve a number of disputes with Greece within the Aegean Sea, such because the width of territorial waters, delimitation of the continental shelf, demilitarisation of islands or size of airspace. Whereas all points are interrelated, Greece solely acknowledges the existence of the continental shelf dispute,” he mentioned.

“Many of the Greek islands within the Aegean Sea are in shut proximity to the Turkish mainland, comparable to Kastellorizo or Kos. These islands got to Greece [under the 1947 Paris Peace Treaty] on the situation of demilitarisation. Nevertheless, Greece violates this provision,” mentioned Gogus.

In the meantime, from a Greek viewpoint, Turkey is making claims which are supported neither by the established order nor by worldwide regulation.

“Greece considers the Aegean Sea a basic a part of the Greek territory given the 1000’s of islands and Greeks dwelling there,” Sotirios Zartaloudis, affiliate professor in comparative European politics on the College of Birmingham instructed Al Jazeera.

“Furthermore, the Aegean Sea is for Greece of nice geopolitical and strategic significance as Europe’s southeastern frontier to the east and the Center East together with the Black Sea,” he mentioned.

map of greece and turkey

The authorized bases are discovered within the treaties of Lausanne (1923), Montreux (1936) and Paris (1947), whereby the treaties signed in Lausanne and Paris regulate which island belongs to which nation.

Nevertheless, the treaty of Montreux was supposed to interchange the treaty of Lausanne partially, and Turkey has basically been deriving its claims from the latter.

Ankara’s interpretation therefore creates a posh state of affairs regarding sovereign rights within the East Aegean, Dimitris Papadimitriou, professor of politics on the College of Manchester, instructed Al Jazeera.

“The standing of the Aegean islands relating to their ‘demilitarisation’ is a posh authorized problem, and the 2 sides have very totally different interpretations relating to the obligations that emanate from these treaties. Given the present local weather of distrust, it’s tough to think about how a bilateral negotiation with a view to discover a widespread language might succeed,” he mentioned.

Brink of armed battle

Two years in the past, the edges got here to the brink of navy battle as tensions rose over vitality assets within the jap Meditarennean. Since then, even diplomatic rapprochement appeared conceivable.

Nevertheless, Ankara’s rhetoric modified drastically after Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis visited the USA final month and known as on Washington to rethink arms gross sales to Turkey.

An affront, in Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s view. The Turkish chief introduced he wouldn’t meet once more the Greek facet till an “trustworthy politician” was in entrance of him.

Since then, the dispute has spiralled, together with a large-scale Turkish navy manoeuvre, which Erdogan attended. In truth, his look made international headlines when he not directly threatened battle.

Not solely did Erdogan warn Greece of “catastrophic penalties”, however urged his neighbour to “keep away from desires, statements and actions that it could remorse”.

“I’m not joking,” Erdogan mentioned.

Regardless of the rhetoric from Ankara, Greece, to date, has not but ceased diplomatic efforts.

“Though the final media discourse in Greece stays very hostile in direction of Turkey, the response by the Greek authorities was comparatively muted,” Papadimitriou mentioned.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu
Greek International Minister Nikos Dendias and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu at a information convention in Athens [File: Costas Baltas/Reuters]

Greek International Minister Nikos Dendias emphasised in the course of the summit of Southeast European nations final week that Greece wouldn’t contribute to the escalation by collaborating in “insulting statements, unlawful and inappropriate calls for and accusations”.

On the identical time, the Greek international ministry revealed 16 maps supposed to doc “the extent of Turkish revisionism”, supposed to show Turkish territorial claims from 1923 to the current day.

“Greek authorities officers proceed to accuse Turkey that it suffers ‘delusions of imperialist grandeur’,” Papadimitriou mentioned.

“Mitsotakis, when requested if he would meet once more with President Erdogan, replied: ‘in fact, I might.’ This exhibits that the Greek authorities doesn’t wish to minimize off all channels of communication with Turkey though, by way of coverage substance, the chasm between the 2 nations stays huge,” he mentioned.

Nevertheless, given Erdogan’s rhetoric, Athens might be even much less inclined to demilitarise the islands.

“Greece argues that any navy presence/gear on the islands is there for coaching causes and deterrence/defence. Greece additionally argues that any navy presence on the Greek islands is just not aimed in direction of/towards Turkey until Turkey assaults Greece,” Zartaloudis mentioned.

Greece considers that navy presence its proper to self-defence, alluding to the quite a few touchdown craft on the west coast of Turkey and common violations of Greek airspace by Turkish fighter jets.

“The Greek governments declare they fear about Turkey’s heavy navy presence close to the Greek border and the Greek islands within the Aegean Sea, which Greece argues is a standby expeditionary pressure. A compromise might be a mutually agreed de-escalation – unlikely for my part,” Zartaloudis mentioned.

The EU and NATO

Given this obvious conundrum, the EU known as upon Turkey to behave “constructively”.

“Escalating steps and rhetoric” have to be prevented and changed with “good neighbourly relations”, Brussels urged.

NATO Secretary-Normal Jens Stoltenberg inspired Greece and Turkey to settle their variations and keep away from any motion or rhetoric that might escalate the state of affairs.

Nonetheless, the present state of affairs raises numerous questions in Greece and, as so usually in these circumstances, the long run is sophisticated to foretell.

“Public opinion in Greece is effectively versed within the hostile rhetoric from either side of the Aegean. Nevertheless, most people doesn’t realise how shortly an ‘accident’ within the Aegean can escalate into full-scale battle,” Papadimitriou mentioned.

“Many individuals speculated that the battle in Ukraine would solely final just a few days. We at the moment are into the fourth month of battle with no indicators of the battle ending quickly. An analogous state of affairs for Greece and Turkey is just not science fiction. That’s the reason it will be significant that the rhetoric clams down and that channels of communication between the 2 sides stay open,” he added.

Most hope that Erdogan’s battle rhetoric is merely a part of his marketing campaign technique. With a presidential election looming, and a painful financial state of affairs in Turkey – inflation is at the moment at 70 % – some analysts are constructive that the home state of affairs in Turkey may have an effect on how the battle proceeds.

“The potential of a Greek-Turkish battle additionally arises from inner dynamics in Turkey, if, for example, the Greek-Turkish relations develop into salient amongst Turkish voters. Forces in favour or towards Erdogan could wish to use battle to spice up or dent his recognition.

“Nevertheless, the hope is that NATO, the US, the navy deterrence from either side together with Erdogan’s rationalism about his personal political survival will stop an open battle,” Zartaloudis mentioned.

Turkey, Russia discuss efforts to restart Ukrainian grain exports | Russia-Ukraine war News

In assembly with Russian counterpart, Turkey’s international minister says UN proposal to restart Ukraine exports ‘affordable’.

Turkey’s international minister has mentioned a United Nations plan to restart Ukrainian grain exports alongside a sea hall was “affordable” throughout talks along with his Russian counterpart in Ankara.

“Varied concepts have been put out for the export of Ukrainian grains to the market, most not too long ago is the UN plan [including] a mechanism that may be created between the UN, Ukraine, Russia and Turkey,” Turkey’s Mevlut Cavusoglu mentioned on Wednesday, talking alongside Russia’s Sergey Lavrov.

The UN-led mechanism geared toward establishing a safe hall for the cargo of an estimated 22 million tonnes of grain sitting in silos in Ukraine by the Black Sea and will contain a Turkish naval escort for tankers leaving Odesa and different Ukrainian ports at the moment blockaded by Russia’s navy.

“We see it as affordable,” he added. “In fact, each Ukraine and Russia should settle for it.”

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February halted Kyiv’s Black Sea grain exports, threatening a world meals disaster. The UN appealed to the 2 sides, in addition to maritime neighbour and NATO member Turkey, to conform to an answer.

Ankara, which has good relations with each Kyiv and Moscow and had beforehand mentioned it was able to tackle a task inside an “commentary mechanism,” additionally backed Russia’s request for an finish to sanctions to assist grain onto the world market.

“If we have to open up the worldwide market to Ukrainian grain, we see the removing of obstacles standing in the best way of Russia’s exports as a professional demand,” Cavusoglu mentioned.

Al Jazeera’s Resul Serdar, reporting from Ankara, mentioned there was “no conclusive outcome to the assembly”.

Nonetheless, Turkey was planning to host an upcoming encounter in Istanbul that Ukrainian officers can be invited to attend.

Serdar added that Moscow was anticipating a Ukrainian delegation to be current on the occasion however that Kyiv was weighing safety considerations.

Russia beneficial to a deal, blames Ukraine

Talking at a press convention alongside Cavusoglu on Wednesday, Russia’s Lavrov appeared beneficial to a deal on grain exports however mentioned Ukraine wanted to let service provider vessels go away its ports safely so as to attain an settlement on the commodities hall.

He added that the onus of de-mining ports previous to resuming grain shipments fell on Kyiv and blamed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for “categorically” refusing to resolve the issue.

Lavrov additionally mentioned that Moscow wouldn’t use grain shipments in and across the Black Sea to advance what it calls its “particular navy operation”.

“These are ensures from the president of Russia,” he mentioned.

Ukraine mentioned on Wednesday it could not de-mine waters across the Black Sea port of Odesa to permit for grain to be exported, citing the specter of Russian assaults on the town.

“The second we clear entry to the port of Odesa, the Russian fleet can be there,” spokesman for the regional administration Serhiy Bratchuk mentioned in a video assertion on social media.

The assembly between Cavusoglu and Lavrov got here as Turkey voiced opposition to Sweden and Finland’s bids to affix NATO. Moscow has additionally objected to the Nordic nations’ candidacy – which analysts say could play a task in discussions regarding Syria.

Ankara has maintained its shut ties to each Ukraine and Russia. It has criticised Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, however has not joined worldwide sanctions towards Moscow.

Lavrov arrived in Turkey days after NATO members Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Montenegro reportedly refused to permit his aircraft to fly by their airspace to achieve Serbia. Lavrov’s aircraft was in a position to fly on to Turkey over the Black Sea.

Talks have been additionally anticipated to concentrate on Turkey’s plans to launch a brand new cross-border offensive in northern Syria towards Syrian Kurdish militia that Ankara considers to be a safety risk.

Turkey wants Moscow’s approval to proceed its presence in northern Syria, regardless of the 2 supporting reverse sides in Syria’s civil struggle. In 2020, 37 Turkish troopers have been killed in Russia-backed air strikes towards rebels in Syria’s final rebel-held Idlib province.

Erdogan says Turkey opposed to Finland, Sweden NATO membership | NATO News

Ankara might block the pair from becoming a member of the US-led navy alliance, with unanimous settlement wanted on new members.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has stated it isn’t attainable for NATO-member Turkey to help Sweden and Finland becoming a member of the transatlantic navy alliance within the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, signalling a attainable blockade to their anticipated ascension bids.

Chatting with reporters in Istanbul on Friday, Erdogan stated Ankara didn’t have “constructive views” on the Scandinavian nations’ anticipated strikes to hunt membership, accusing them of being “guesthouses for terrorist organisations”.

“They’re even members of the parliament in some nations. It’s not attainable for us to be in favour,” he stated, with out offering any additional particulars.

Turkey has repeatedly criticised Sweden and different Western European nations for its dealing with of organisations deemed to be “terrorists” by Ankara, together with the Kurdistan Employees’ Social gathering (PKK) and Syrian Kurdish Folks’s Safety Models (YPG), in addition to the followers of the United States-based Muslim scholar Fethullah Gulen.

Ankara has stated Gulenists carried out a coup try in 2016. Gulen and his supporters deny the accusation.

Finnish leaders urge NATO bid ‘immediately’

Turkey’s opposition might pose an issue for Sweden and Finland given all 30 NATO allies should unanimously approve a brand new nation turning into a part of the United-States led alliance.

Erdogan stated it had been an error for NATO to confess Greece, with which Ankara is at odds over a number of points, in 1952 and urged in opposition to “comparable errors” being made now. Turkey additionally joined NATO in 1952.

His remarks got here after Finland’s president and prime minister on Thursday stated the nation should apply to affix the alliance “immediately” – feedback which drew the ire of Moscow and noticed the Kremlin threaten to retaliate, together with with unspecified “military-technical” measures.

Finland, which shares a 1,300-kilometre-long (810-mile-long) border with Russia, is predicted to formally announce its resolution on Sunday following a gathering of the nation’s senior political figures. Sweden is predicted to comply with go well with.

Responding in a while Friday to Erdogan’s remarks, Finland’s International Minister Pekka Haavisto urged endurance and known as for a step-by-step method in response to the Turkish resistance. There was no rapid response from Sweden.

NATO Secretary-Common Jens Stoltenberg had stated each nations can be welcomed into the organisation shortly ought to they pursue membership.

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Russian opposition to enlargement

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has swung political and public opinion in Finland and Sweden in favour of membership as a deterrent in opposition to Moscow’s aggression.

The pair are already NATO’s closest companions, sitting in on many conferences, repeatedly briefed on the state of affairs in Ukraine and participating in common navy drills with NATO allies. A lot of their navy gear is interoperable with NATO allies.

Nonetheless, they can not profit from NATO’s collective defence clause – that an assault on one ally is an assault on all – till they be a part of the alliance.

Had been they to affix the alliance, it will redraw the geopolitical map of northern Europe and create a largely unbroken ribbon of NATO member states dealing with Russia from the Arctic to the Black Sea.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly voiced concern about NATO’s waves of enlargement in current a long time and earlier this month stated he despatched Moscow’s troops into Ukraine in response to an alleged navy build-up by the alliance in territories adjoining to Russia, amongst different issues.

Turkey has criticised Russia’s invasion, despatched armed drones to Ukraine and sought to facilitate peace talks between the edges.

Nonetheless, Ankara has not backed Western sanctions on Moscow and as an alternative sought to take care of shut commerce, power and tourism ties with Russia.