Turkey’s bark worse than its bite, Greek website says
Ankara’s bellicose rhetoric and a spate of recent incidents in the Aegean have led to fears of war igniting between Turkey and Greece, journalist wrote John Smith on the news site Greek Reporter.com.
Greek and Turkish naval vessels collided in waters off uninhabited islets that both sides claim on Feb. 12 and in the skies above there have been increasingly frequent violations of Greek airspace by Turkish fighter jets, the report said. On Monday alone 42 such incursions were reported by sources in Athens.
The Greeks are also angered by what they see as Turkish attempts to obstruct natural gas exploration around Cyprus.
But despite increasing tension between Turkey and Greece, there is little probability of war, Smith wrote, because Turkey currently has too many other issues to contend with.
Its military is heavily committed in Syria, having launched an invasion of the Syrian region of Afrin last month, and is still recovering from purges within its ranks that followed the failed coup attempt of July 2016.
Turkey’s economic ties with Europe would also be seriously affected by war in the Aegean, making such a conflict self-destructive for Ankara.
The Turkish public is, opinion polls show, more concerned by threats posed by armed Kurdish groups than by Greece.
Warlike rhetoric over Aegean issues may rather serve Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s domestic agenda. With elections slated for next year, Erdoğan knows that airing historical grievances represents a sure fire way of rallying support among nationalistic voters.
However, the risk that an unplanned incident in the Aegean could lead to events spiralling out of control cannot be discounted. The recent collision between Turkish and Greek naval vessels required a phone call between Prime Ministers Binali Yıldırım and Alexis Tsipras to defuse the situation.
A consequence of the increasing tension is that Athens has appealed to NATO to take a more robust stance against Turkey. It may also try to exert diplomatic pressure on Washington to curtail jet-fighter sales to Ankara