Why is Erdogan digging his own grave?

Ω Stavros Lygeros
Why is Erdogan digging his own grave, Stavros Lygeros

Erdogan's choice to send the Oruc Reis just off the territorial waters of Kastellorizo is indisputable indication that he is in haste. He doesn't want to enter lengthy exploratory talks, especially as the Greek side insists that the only subject will be the delimitation of the continental shelf/EEZ.

Erdogan is escalating matters with the aim of bringing things to a head. That is, to force the Greek side to either submit to his will, meaning to sit at the table and negotiate unilateral and expansionist Turkish demands (gray zones, demilitarization of Greek islands, etc), or risk a “hot incident”.

The Turks are not about to fire the first shot. This is obvious. They are, however, putting pressure on the Greeks to do something to stop this piratical activity, which at this time has taken on the guise of research activities just off Greek territorial waters (their NAVTEX reaches 6.5 nautical miles from Kastellorizo). Tomorrow, however, these activities will very likely take the form of drilling, not because they actually found something, but drilling of a political nature, in order to force Greece to do something to stop it, and thus precipitate conflict.

Those in Ankara, obviously, believe that through such conflict they will force Greece to accept what it denies to negotiate today. It is obvious that Erdogan's move has embarrassed his friends in the EU, the Germans first and foremost, all those that in the previous period wanted to let Turkey off easy. He has put them on the spot because he has denuded them of any pretext.

If the EU continues to turn its back on what is happening, i.e. the piratical activities of a third party, Turkey, against two of its member-states, it will almost cease to have any reason for existing. Through his stance, Erdogan is also trying the tolerance of the United States. This is the reason for the unique, as concerns tone and acerbic language, statement from the State Department.

So why is Erdogan risking diplomatic isolation? Never before has the climate concerning Turkey been so negative, as it is today. Despite this, Erdogan persists. This shows that what he is attempting through the Oruc Reis is of crucial importance to the way he perceives things.

It is, however, crystal clear that Erdogan has slid into an overextension. He has opened many fronts and has difficulty in managing them. As history teaches, this is a classic mistake that the country committing it will pay dearly for.

Obviously, Erdogan believes that because he has often overstepped his bounds without consequence, this will continue to happen. In other words, he believes that the West and his neighbors will continue to put up with this behavior on the part of Turkey. History also teaches that such beliefs, more often than not, lead to defeat.

Of course, its very likely that before things reach defeat, other damage may have been done. This is special concerns Greece which is under intense expansionist pressure.

However, a solution does exist, as long as there is political will and planning. But of this we will talk at another time.

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