International press focuses on the potential Greek-Turkish war
The continuing escalation of tension in the Aegean has been reflected in the international press in recent days. All likely outcomes in Greek-Turkish ties are currently on the table, according to publications in Europe and Russia. This judgment is made by foreign journalists and analysts considering the most recent messages sent by Ankara and Athens.
According to foreign publications, it cannot be ruled out that an open conflict in the Aegean may set off a series of events that would affect the rest of the region. The conflict between Greece and Turkey may have a variety of effects on the military, diplomatic, and economic balances.
According to the Greek left and the opposition, a new Greek-Turkish conflict would devastate all parties involved, citing the risk in the Aegean. According to a new analysis, a military conflict with Turkey would present Greece with vast issues and serious risks.
Pessimism in the German press
"Tensions between Turkey and Greece come to a dangerous head. Threats of war are openly expressed. Questions and answers on the current situation", warns Gerd Hohler in a new analysis. According to Hohler at the heart of Greece's showdown with Turkey are the borders and sovereign rights in the eastern Mediterranean.
"According to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, Greece and Cyprus are the rightful owners of certain sea areas, which Turkey is claiming as its exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The natural gas resources that are allegedly present there is the major problem here. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea is not recognized by Turkey. Ankara has also recently questioned Greece's authority over Aegean islands like Rhodes, Kos, Lesbos, and Samos. Ankara claims Greece has violated the Lausanne (1923) and Paris (1947) treaties by stationing military personnel there. They stipulated that the islands be made non-militarized. Greece asserts its right to self-defense, citing the threat posed by Turkey, which has the largest landing force in the Mediterranean stationed along its Aegean coast.", adds the analyst.
From Hohler's point, "The president of Turkey hopes to win the upcoming elections in 2023 spring of 2023. His party is performing worse than it has ever done in polls since it came to the office 20 years ago. High inflation is the primary cause. Recep Tayyip Erdogan is attempting to divert attention from the economic crisis with his increasingly hostile language toward Greece."
"Would Erdogan even risk a war with Greece to stay in power?" asks Hohler, providing us with this answer: "It is possible, but uncertain. According to historian Ryan Gingeras, a professor at the U.S. Naval Academy in Monterey, California, a war between Turkey and Greece is "not just possible, but likely." Erdogan has allegedly been planning a potential military operation for weeks. Military analysts predict Ankara may attempt to impose a naval blockade on Greek islands as a first step, as Turkey thinks they should be demilitarized. On Lesbos, you can find island ports like Chios, Kos, or Mytilini that are just across from the Turkish coast. The islands would only have air access under a naval blockade. Within a few hours, such a blockade might degenerate into full-scale combat."
Same tone in the Italian press
The pessimistic tone of the German press is shared by the press in neighboring Italy. For Federico Garau "the Mediterranean is on hold as two states hurl accusations at each other. Erdogan warns the Greek government." Garau how alarming Ankara's most recent warnings to the Greek government are.
"The allegations made by Turkey are serious: Greece is said to have moved military equipment to the Aegean Sea's demilitarized islands. We would deal with a severe issue if Turkey's charges are accurate because Greece would have broken international law," Garau states.
According to Garau, Athens attempts to persuade Turkey to pick up the thread of talks. Turkey is free to continue her constant deceit and threats. The Greek Prime Minister, who maintains that dialogue is still the best course of action for the two neighbors, recently sent a message to Ankara claiming that they are waging war not just against Greece but against all of Europe and our NATO partners.
"As the days go by, tensions increase. Since we're talking about neighbors, Italy has some bad news", Garau concludes.
Conflict scenarios also from the Russian press
"Contradictions between Turkey and Europe could turn into war" is the title of the new analysis of the Russian "Ria Novosti" News Agency. According to the Russian agency, "Against the backdrop of the Ukrainian crisis, Europe risks getting a new hot spot on its periphery - this time at its southern borders."
Evaluating the latest alarming news and developments from Cyprus and the Aegean, "Ria Novosti" concludes that "Turkey is attempting to increase the level of tension in its relations with its NATO partners through Northern Cyprus, but such a judgment would not be entirely accurate. It is a reality that the US decision to ease the embargo on deliveries of heavy weapons to Cyprus caused yet another escalation."
The "Ria Novosti" also adds these: "We should not forget about Greece as a party to the confrontation (in Cyprus). Its involvement is not limited to supporting Nicosia - in parallel with the escalation in Cyprus, the dispute between Athens and Ankara over the Aegean Sea islands is becoming more and more acute."
The Russian publication recalling that at the moment, apart from the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean, Ankara's attention is also focused on the Caucasus: "While Erdogan can expect his allies to continue to look the other way about his operations in the east, the standoff on Turkey's western frontiers raises the possibility of at least two alliance members starting a full-scale war. The wind of change (in the international sector) caught in Erdogan’s sails as one ambitious leader striving to become a major player. As a result, he is better able to balance the needs of the major powers while continuing to be a nuisance to everyone. These politicians now have a window of opportunity thanks to the demise of the previous order of international relations, which we are currently experiencing. The traditional centers of power are now compelled to show flexibility toward the rising influence of third countries. But it is quite simple to run into reefs in the murky waters where the Turkish leader swims."
"A war against Turkey could lead to defeat"
Alexis Heraklides, Professor Emeritus of International Relations and Conflict Resolution at Panteion University, shares the view of the Greek Left that the latest developments in the Aegean and the reports focusing on the possibility of a Greek-Turkish war make up a nightmare scenario for the parties involved. "Both sides and their media claim that the other side is planning an attack, yet they are both innocent and open to talks. The possibility of a military clash has not been brought up in Greek-Turkish relations for the past 100 years. The fact that this is a first is exceedingly unsettling", Greek Professor states.
Heraklides asserts that there are two scenarios for Greek-Turkish relations: "Unintentional conflict or a Turkish attack, presumably contained. In both scenarios, it will appear the opposing side is at fault. The assailant will take care of this, including offering pertinent proof."
Stressing that in the modern times, "Greece alone has never defeated Turkey," Heraklides warns us that "a war against Turkey could lead to defeat and unbearable humiliation of the Greek people. Even a victory would be rather instantaneous or pyrrhic and is unlikely to act as a deterrent to Turkey."
*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.