The presence of the Turkish exploration ship “Oruc Reis” in the area of the Greek continental shelf on the anniversary of the 1996 Imia crisis, which brought the two countries to the brink of war, demonstrates that Ankara will continue its sabre-rattling and keep provoking Athens.
The calm response of the Greek government demonstrated that Greece is devoted to a policy of de-escalation.
That posture is useful only if Ankara’s sabre-rattling does not exceed a certain limit.
What would happen for example if a Turkish ship were conducting exploration and Ankara had issued a NAVTEX tying up the sea area?
What would the reaction of the Greek government be or, to put it differently, what would be the likelihood of some sort of military clash (which many predict and even more fear)?
One would hope that the answer will not be given at sea, yet answers cannot be drafted on paper.
Turkish provocations with various pretexts, such as the anniversary of the 1996 Imia crisis, or with no pretext at all test Greece’s readiness and the planning of various ministries in Athens.
As accustomed as one may be to such actions by Turkey, they still offer a foretaste of what may happen if the limits are surpassed.
Deterring such an eventuality cannot be the sole objective of foreign policy.
In contrast to Ankara’s provocations, Greece both as a sovereign state and as a member of the European family abides by a different system of values.