Greece wary of ‘erratic’ moves from Turkey’s Erdoğan - Kathimerini

The Greek government fears that Turkey could attempt to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic in one of the countries’ various disputes and is ensuring that its response to the coronavirus will not leave an opening for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to exploit, Greek daily Kathimerini said.

Starting in late February, Turkey allowed thousands of migrants to cross its side of the border with Greece in a move that European leaders interpreted as an attempt to use them to leverage to gain concessions from the European Union.

The Turkish government began clearing some of the migrant camps on the border last week, but Greek officials do not believe this signals a lasting change of course by Ankara since it called the clearance a temporary measure caused by the fight against the coronavirus, Kathimerini said.

The Greek government is also anticipating the possibility of “erratic” moves in the eastern Mediterranean, where Erdoğan backs the U.N.-recognised government of Libya in Tripoli as it fights a rival based in the east of the country.

Turkey’s deal signed with the Tripoli government in November sees a large portion of the Mediterranean, including areas close to Greek islands and the seas that lie on the course of a pipeline planned by Greece, Israel and Cyprus, as Turkish waters.

With Erdoğan’s gamble on Tripoli, and the ongoing Turkish involvement in the Syrian war, disputed by his opponents at home, he may take drastic action by doubling down on his eastern Mediterranean policy, Kathimerini said.

A French naval ship forced a Turkish freighter headed to Libya to reverse its course last week, the Greek outlet said. Meanwhile, Turkish surveying vessels continue to search for hydrocarbon resources, often in waters claimed by Greece’s Cypriot allies.