Who needs destabilisation in Aegean?
    Azerbaijani political analyst's opinion

    ANALYTICS  23 September 2022 - 13:48

    Matanat Nasibova

    It seems that another crisis is brewing in the strained Türkiye-Greece relations, which, proceeding from the frequent harsh rhetoric of the sides, is becoming systematic.

    As is known, another incident provoked by the Greek side against Türkiye occurred relatively recently, after Greece tried to intercept a Turkish patrol aircraft that was performing a task as part of a NATO operation.

    According to Turkish sources, the Greek side used S-300 air defence systems to intercept Turkish F-16 fighter jets in international airspace over the Aegean and Mediterranean seas.

    In response to this provocation, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent a warning message to Greece, saying that Athens would pay a heavy price if it continues to provoke the Turkish military.

    “I would like to tell Athens only one thing. Do not forget about Izmir!” the president said during a visit to the 2022 Teknofest Aerospace and Technology Festival, referring to the events of the second Greco-Turkish war of 1919-1922, as a result of which, as is known, the city was liberated from the Greek army by [Founder of the Turkish Republic] Kemal Ataturk’s troops.

    The Turkish president’s message was perceived in Greece as another "threat to the security of the country", and as a result, the EU called on President Erdogan to stop "aggressive" rhetoric against Athens. Paris expressed an openly hostile position on the incident against Ankara. Thus, French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Catherine Colonna promised to help Athens in case of a conflict with Türkiye, which was an unpleasant surprise for the Turkish side. 

    It is known that there are many contradictions in the tense relations between the two countries, but certain efforts have been recently made by the sides to establish a mutually beneficial dialogue. In this context, it is worth citing last year's article by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in L'Opinion newspaper on the eve of the Turkish foreign minister’s visit to Paris.

    Türkiye's foreign policy towards France has been fully described by the minister in the article. Türkiye and France were said to be two friendly and allied countries that maintain friendly relations that could not be broken by any misunderstanding.

    However, as we see, the French minister’s reckless statement completely runs counter to Ankara’s peace-loving policy, which Türkiye is ready to defend not only with assurances but also with real actions. As for Colonna's remarks, it is obvious that Ankara's regional and foreign policy, successfully pursued on the world stage, especially today amid complex processes aimed at geopolitical change of the situation, irritates France and this is an alarming signal for Ankara.

    In general, the fact that Türkiye today plays a significant role in international politics, being an active participant and regulator of the complex processes in the Middle East, Asia, and the Caucasus by remaining a NATO member. To put it mildly, not only the US, and France but the entire European continent, are unpleased with this fact.

    Therefore, it is not surprising that the EU is trying to use every opportunity to discredit Ankara, primarily as a NATO member, and put forward unfounded accusations against it "which are contrary to the European interests". In this sense, the Greek factor is one of the best options, which both the EU and NATO are trying to use. France's harsh rhetoric against Türkiye may be also an act of support for Greece's European policy.

    It is naive to believe that in case of a confrontation with Greece, the US will not demonstrate a similar position. Türkiye is a strategic partner for the Americans, with a rather big military potential, which is a very important factor. However, Greece not only is an ally of the US, but also a convenient springboard for pushing through the militaristic interests of the White House, in particular, for the deployment of US weapons on its territory. In turn, playing along with the US interests for Greece opens up opportunities for its dominance and occupation of disputed islands in the Aegean. It is quite possible that the incident related to an attempt to intercept Turkish F-16 fighter jets using S-300 defence systems was provoked by Athens with US consent. Accordingly, Greece hopes for US support in the Turkish-Greek confrontation by increasing the number of US military bases on its territory, on the one hand, and isolating Türkiye in NATO, on the other. At the same time, the implementation of the second part of such a provocative plan envisages the use of Russian S-400 air defence systems by Türkiye only in case of a missile attack on it. President Erdogan unambiguously stated this back in February 2022 in an interview with reporters on board the plane, returning from an African tour.

    President Erdogan then noted that he sees attempts to create a discussion around Ankara's acquisition of Russian S-400 defence systems and that the purchase of weapons is dictated by the need for a long-range air defence system in a region in which uncertainty and threats have never abated.

    “It has been constantly emphasised at all levels that the S-400 is a defensive weapon system and that the acquisition of this system is not an option, but a necessity,” the Turkish leader said, assuring that Türkiye would use the S-400 only in case of a real threat to its security.

    Russia and Türkiye signed a contract for the supply of four S-400 air defence systems worth $2.5 billion in 2017. The air defence systems were supplied to the Turkish side in the summer and autumn of 2019. The contract envisaged an option for the deliveries of another batch of the system. President Erdogan said in August 2021 that he had no doubts about buying the second unit of the S-400 air defence system from Russia.

    At the same time, it would be too early to think that the US unilaterally preferred Greece to Türkiye. It is more likely in the US interest to maintain constant tension in the Türkiye -Greece relations for benefitting each of them separately.

    In fact, this approach was and remains part of the US foreign policy aimed at destabilisation in any part of the continent, which we have seen in Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan. There are enough such examples. So before being provoked by the Americans, the Greeks should thoroughly weigh in on all the pros and cons of a possible crisis in the Aegean before Türkiye launches its defensive missiles.


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