Angst in the Aegean: Germany Pushes for De-Escalation in Greece-Turkey Row

Written by | Friday, August 28th, 2020
@Eubulletin

Greece will extend its territorial waters from six to 12 nautical miles in response to the current crisis with Turkey over drilling rights in the eastern Mediterranean. The extension – which is legal – should take place along Greece’s Italy-facing coastline, in the west, hence not directly affecting the territory at the heart of the dispute. And while Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told parliament that his country was abandoning decades of “passive” foreign policy, Turkish president Erdogan warned Athens on Wednesday (26 August) not to test his country’s courage or patience. “Turkey will take what is its right in the Mediterranean, in the Aegean and in the Black Sea,” Erdogan said, adding he is “determined to do whatever is necessary in political, economic and military terms.”
His tough words came after a German mediation attempt on Tuesday, with foreign minister Heiko Maas calling for tension de-escalate, and warning Turkey that a “spark could lead to a disaster”. Following talks with Maas, foreign ministers of Turkey and Greece said they wanted to solve the matter through dialogue. At the same time, however, Turkey had called Greece “a spoiled child that has unconditional support from the European Union”, and had also stressed the importance of why honest mediation is necessary for dialogue. Ankara has said it is prepared to have a dialogue with Greece only if there is a fair distribution of rights in the eastern Mediterranean. However, Ankara says a real conflict may be unavoidable, if Athens continues to present conditions for dialogue and doesn’t give up what it sees as an uncompromising approach in the region.
The two NATO allies have come to blows over energy resources in the disputed Mediterranean Sea and are both set to carry out rival navy drills. They have also put their militaries on high alert and have sent warships to shadow each other in a dispute that has drawn in the EU. Meanwhile, France is joining military exercises with Greece, Cyprus and Italy in the eastern Mediterranean, Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly said on Wednesday. “The eastern Mediterranean is turning into an area of tension. Respect for international law must be the rule and not the exception,” Parly said. Relations between France and Turkey have gone from bad to worse in recent months over Ankara’s actions in NATO, Libya and the Mediterranean. President Emmanuel Macron has urged the EU to show solidarity with Greece and Cyprus in the dispute and pushed for further sanctions at EU level, although there are divisions in the bloc over the issue.

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SECURITY & DEFENSE

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