Athens focuses on Greek-Turkish conflict scenarios
"We are doing everything possible to avoid being dragged behind the Turkish President's bellicose rhetoric; it is clear that Turkish diplomacy, with its high tones, is attempting to trap us in a context where Ankara, with its military power, will secure gains in the Aegean before the elections; we will not play this game; however, diplomatically, militarily, and economically, we must prepare the country for all eventualities."
The above comment comes from a Greek source with extensive military experience, who today shares his thoughts with +GercekNews on the escalating tension in the Aegean. According to the source the possibility of a Greek-Turkish conflict in the Aegean Sea is "unthinkable" with the following caveat: "For a war the right conditions must exist. There should be leeway for military adventures. You must also have an efficient economy, military power, and plans in place to achieve quick victory. I don't believe Greece and Turkey are at this point today because they are amid a conflict between the West and Russia and China."
The source, who insists on not jumping to "hasty conclusions" in the Aegean, acknowledges also that the tension in the Aegean is problematic. With new public statements, Greek and Turkish diplomats, politicians, and analysts are considering war scenarios in the Aegean. "After many years, the Cyprus crisis in 1974 and Imia in 1996, this is an unprecedented situation. Without getting ahead of ourselves, we must acknowledge the gravity of the situation" the source explains.
"Greece is ready to defend its territory, sovereignty and existence"
The source's remarks are consistent with the most recent messages from Athens regarding the deterioration of Greek-Turkish relations. Ankara's aggressive rhetoric on the Greek islands, the deployment of US forces in Greece, the Cyprus issue, and the energy crisis are all causing concern and concern in Athens. Under the pressure of these developments, Greek government representatives are preparing Greek public opinion for all possibilities with careful statements.
"Let me be completely honest. We will not get caught up in a word-for-word battle. We have stated unequivocally that Greece is prepared to defend its territory, sovereignty, sovereign rights, and existence. With every legal tool at its disposal", was the Greek Foreign Minister's new message a few hours ago. The Greek media interpreted Nikos Dendias' statement as a new warning from Athens about the level of danger in the Aegean.
Greek officials' warnings in Athens have been accompanied in the last days by new analyses by Greek journalists, scholars, and retired military officers. The stigma of pessimism runs through these analyses. "Perhaps Greek public opinion should immediately begin preparing for a military conflict with Turkey" states Agis Veroutis, adding: "As polls in Turkey show Erdogan flirting with 30% with his 'achievements' in the economy of 100% inflation and the impoverishment of a large percentage of Turkish society, (for the Turkish government) avoiding Turkish elections at all costs appears as a one-way street. (In case of an electoral defeat) The Turkish president can avoid the consequences of the persecution inflicted by the current Turkish government system over the last 20 years by postponing the elections. This can only be accomplished through the use of belligerence, which appears to be preparing Turkish public opinion."
Similarly, Lieutenant General (retired) Lambros Tzoumis compares the new escalation in the Aegean to the climate that prevailed in Cyprus during the 1974 war and emphasizes: "Turkey moved along two axes prior to the invasion of Cyprus. First, it informed international public opinion that it would do everything possible to defend Turkish Cypriots' rights, and it prepared Turkish public opinion for this. The second axis was concerned with gaining external legitimacy. Turkey needed to persuade international public opinion that partition solves the Cyprus problem." According to the Greek general, Turkey is currently pursuing a similar strategy.
Projecting Turkey's "sharp power"
"The projection of a military threat against Greece and the Republic of Cyprus, as well as the unsubstantiated demand for the revision of international treaties, highlight the fallacy of Turkey's peaceful claims of the past and make up the precursor of Turkey's current "sharp power" strategy, to create a favorable international climate in favor of Turkish challenges and possible aggressive actions against us, following the methods of Russia's invasion of Ukraine", stresses in a similar approach Panagiotis Hinofotis, Admiral (ret. a.) PN., Honorary Chief of the Armed Forces, former Deputy Minister of Interior - Member of State.
The Greek Admiral states that "the Turkish strategy is based on the 'Sharp Power' theory, with constant efforts to influence domestic and international public opinion, particularly that of the target country. It is manifested through aggressive rhetoric, unfounded allegations, bizarre theories, attempts to divide the target country's public opinion, and misinformation via manipulation of domestic and international media correspondents."
Hinofotis' reasoning is: "The goal of Turkey is to improve its image at home and project power in countries that desire its sovereignty, jurisdiction, and territorial integrity. Coercion through blackmail diplomacy and forced negotiation is the minimum goal. The entire strategy is aimed at undermining Greece's reputation and prestige. Ankara deliberately conceals the formation of the 4th Turkish Army, known as the Aegean Army, in July 1974, and its aggressive disposition against Greece on the coast of Asia Minor, with land, landing, and airborne forces, in order to downplay the military threat against Greece and its Aegean islands."
According to the Greek admiral, "The defense of Greece's national interests is the heart of our national survival, and it is founded on our own defensive strength. Any other political or economic option is rendered obsolete by the collapse of defense."
"Veto" on polemical rhetoric from the Greek Left
In contrast to government circles in Athens, the Greek Left as a whole "vetoes" the Aegean war scenarios. The Greek Left parties continue to warn the public about the implications of the imperialist powers' new plans for Greek-Turkish relations, emphasizing that no conflict will solve the problems that Athens and Ankara face in their relations.
The case of "Mera 25," the party led by former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, is typical. When the Greek press is focusing on Aegean war scenarios, the party rejects militaristic rhetoric and logic in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean. In this context, the party strongly condemns Washington's decision to lift Cyprus's military embargo.
"We condemn Washington's decision to lift the arms embargo on the Republic of Cyprus as risky and reckless. The Americans and their regional allies who divided the island with the unacceptable Green Line are attempting to entangle the two communities in a new cycle of violence and destruction. The civil society of Cyprus on both sides of the Green Line makes clear its conviction that the Cyprus problem can be solved based on the application of international law and not on the basis of arms and the arrogant principle of divide and rule," states the new statement of "Mera25."
*Dr Nikolaos Stelgias was born in Istanbul. He is an independent researcher, writer, historian and journalist. His doctorate is in the field of the modern Turkish political system (Panteion University, 2011). His latest book “The Ailing Turkish Democracy” was published by the Cambridge Scholars Publication in 2020. Dr. Stelgias was a correspondent of the newspaper "Kathimerini (Cyprus edition)" for Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot community from 2009 to 2021. Currently, Dr. Stelgias works at the Cyprus News Agency. Dr. Stelgias publishes in Turkish news articles and analyses on Cyprus and Greece.