Athens braces for tensions in East Med

With Turkey’s behavior in the Eastern Mediterranean becoming increasingly provocative, Greece is bracing for a possible scaling up of tensions, possibly even during the summer, amid fears that Turkish officials will make good on threats to launch hydrocarbon explorations off the Greek islands of Crete or Kastellorizo. 

Athens is weighing its diplomatic options while trying to keep channels of communication with Ankara open despite the contrary stance of the Turkish government.

In the wake of Turkey divulging what had been destined to be secret talks between Greek, Turkish and German officials earlier this month, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is due in Athens for talks that are expected to focus on Greek-Turkish relations.

Tuesday’s talks are expected to focus on the positions expressed by EU leaders about Turkey on the sidelines of a summit on the issue of the coronavirus recovery fund over the weekend. 

During that summit, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis urged his EU peers to institute “tough sanctions” against Turkey in response to its mounting aggression against Greece and Cyprus. EU leaders also accepted a proposal by European Council President Charles Michel for a special session on the EU’s strategic relationship with Turkey in September. 

There are fears that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan might up the ante before that with an intervention in the East Med in a bid to prevent an agreement on the delineation of an exclusive economic zone between Greece and Egypt which is currently being discussed between officials of the two countries.  

The article was first published in Kathimerini and reprinted with permission.