Greek-Turkish relations have begun to resemble a minefield that at any moment can blow up.
Tensions are at a record high, and no one can predict the next moves. Athens is even examining the prospect of Turkey staging a military clash.
Ankara is escalating tensions daily and appears to be spinning out of control, with no one being able to call Turkey to order.
Even the presence of the US Sixth Fleet in the eastern Mediterranean and the exhortations of German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Ankara to address the deaths in the Aegean have not moderated Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s bellicose rhetoric.
Yesterday, it was Washington’s turn to come under attack from Erdogan. Referrring to the presence of US forces in the northern Syrian town of Manbij, Erdogan said he will pursue his operations there and that the Americans are not there to fight ISIS, but rather to attack Turkey and Iran, as an attack against Russia would trigger WW III.
“Why are you leaving where you are and going 11,000 kilometres away? Are these your territories?” he declared in an attack on Washington.
“We are expecting President Trump to take a position on the policies that target our country and confuse us. Those who speak on Trump’s behalf don’t know what they are talking about,” Erdogan said.
If Erdogan cannot restrain himself in dealing with the US, what can one expect he will he do in relations with Greece and Europe? Just yesterday, his foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, challenged Athens’ sovereignty over a number of Greek islets and rock islets in the Aegean.
“The status of sovereignty over certain islets and rock islets, and their surrounding sea boundaries have not been determined by a Greek-Turkish agreement that is in effect, and this creates a series of problems,” Cavusolglu said.
He once again challenged the treaties of Lausanne and Paris, which determined the status of the Aegean islands.
As if all of the above were not enough, there are indications of Turkey engaging in electronic warfare, jamming GPS-type systems on all planes flying over the Eastern Mediterranean.
The problem was so serious that Cyprus was forced to issue emergency safety NOTAMs to airplanes flying in the region.
Athens and Nicosia will raise the issue of mounting Turkish provocations at the EU summit meeting today and tomorrow, and will push for their European partners to issue a strongly-worded warning to Ankara.
Draft conclusions of the summit, which are prepared in advance, reportedly include a condemnation of Turkish actions in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean, and a confirmation of Cyprus’ sovereign rights in its Exclusive Economic Zone, where it is conducting gas and oil exploration.