Erdoğan poised to challenge Greek territory in 2020 - Kathimerini

Athens must exercise restraint and weigh its alliances, as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan appears determined to move ahead with his plans and to push Turkey’s territorial claims in the Aegean Sea and the eastern Mediterranean in 2020, Kathimerini said in an editorial published on Monday. 

Turkey’s strongman saw that his gambit involving Greece and Cyprus was yielding results and responded to alliances that effectively excluded his country from the eastern Mediterranean in a forceful manner, it said.

In January of this year, seven energy ministers in the region signed a deal to set up the East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF). The group, which includes Cyprus, Greece, Israel, Egypt, Italy, Jordan, and the Palestinian territories, formalises increasing energy ties in the region, where recent natural gas discoveries have led to soaring tensions. 

Turkey, which is in a bitter dispute with Cyprus and Greece over drilling in the region, was excluded due to what is being called an aggressive campaign of gas drilling in the region.

The country says parts of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) lie its own continental shelf and maintains the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, recognised only by Turkey, is due a share of the revenue generated from the island’s natural resources. 

Turkey has sent drilling ships to look for gas off Cyprus to press its claims for waters there. The EU last month targeted Turkey with limited sanctions over its gas drilling in the region.

However, geopolitical developments have the stars aligned for Erdoğan.

Erdoğan was given a green light by U.S. President Donald Trump to invade Syria in October and German Chancellor Angela Merkel fears the Turkish president over his threats of opening the gates to Europe for millions of refugees hosted by Turkey, Kathimerini said.

Turkey’s strongman is on good terms with Moscow and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a vocal critic of Erdoğan, has his hands tied with corruption charges that are threatening his political life, it added.

Greece must carefully weigh its alliances, Kathimerini said, adding that the country is set to find out whom its real friends and allies are.