Why October augurs danger of a Greek-Turkish conflict

Ω Stavros Lygeros
Greek-Turkish conflict, Stavros Lygeros

It is common knowledge now that Turkish expansionism has gained a level and that is why the current Greek–Turkish crisis is not only not being defused, but we are seeing it escalating.

Erdogan is seeking to drag Greece to negotiations on all unilateral Turkish expansionist demands. That's why, before he sits at the negotiating table he wants to have humbled Greece, to have created faits accomplis that will foretell the end results of the negotiations.

This is mission undretaken by the Oruc Reis. That's why we will see it just off Greek territorial waters in Kastellorizo , Rhodes, maybe off Karpathos, maybe even off of Crete. That is why, in a following phase, or a phase after that, we may see a Turkish drilling rig there. The Turkey – Libya MoU was signed so that it would be applied. In other words, Turkey knows what it wants and knows how it can try to achieve it.

Greece agrees to negotiate only on the sea zones, on the condition that the Oruc Reis is recalled, a condition that Ankara rejects. Erdogan will not do Mitsotakis the favor in order to facilitate him. And that is exactly why he wants Greece to sit at the table, but humbled. Rightly Athens is betting on European sanctions on Turkey, but it is best if we curb expectations, since all indications show that this a realistic assessment.

It may be true that all EU partners condemn Turkish actions, but some of them do not proceed to the substance of the issue. They don't want sanctions, with Germany and Spain foremost among them. Erdogan, through his inflammatory bellicose rhetoric and his offensive actions is not helping those within the EU that want a soft approach towards Turkey. These are the same countries that if, in the end, are forced during the EU summit to vote for sanctions will do everything they can so that the sanctions are painless. All this, with Stoltenberg's comments concerning a technical dialogue, that NATO's general secretary remembered as of late, are nothing more than diplomatic games to avoid the imposition of sanctions.

Sanctions, therefore, are an issue of a tactical character. The strategic issue is how to check Turkish aggressiveness. As everything shows, this will escalate, especially if sanctions are not imposed. Erdogan is certain that Greece will not seek all-out war, which he also does not want, as he knows that it will be mutually destructive for both countries and will possibly endanger his own position. Since, however, Erdogan is convinced that Greece will not go down the path of war, he believes he can precipitate a “hot incident”, whenever and wherever it suits Turkey. Thus he will be able to force Greece to the table, not jus with faits accomplis against it, but also humbled by a military defeat, even on a small scale.

With Trump in the White House, Erdogan feels he has his back covered, that the US will not use a Greek-Turkish war to proceed to actions that will overthrow the neo-Sultan. This is what Erdogan feared during the latter years of the Obama administration, and maybe he will fear it if Biden is elected. This is why he believes that the window of opportunity is open until November.

All the aforementioned lead to the conclusion, that from the EU summit (since up until then nothing “hot” is expected)and until November there will be an extremely dangerous period. Given the situation, Greece has no reason to give Erdogan the opportunity he desires. Athens must play a zone defense game, and not man-to-man, to use a basketball analogy. At the same time, Greece must rapidly augment its armed forces, while at the same time promoting a Mediterranean alliance with an anti-Turkish flavor. The conditions are as favorable as they have ever been. If the first step is taken, if a mutual defense pact is signed with France, the rest will quickly follow, Egypt, the UAE, and its own manner Israel.

Erdogan has given us a great present. Through his verbosness, his overexpansionism, he has turned all these countries against him. He transformed them into forces allied with Greece. If the Mediterranean alliance is formed, it will raise a deterrent wall to Turkish expansionism in the eastern Mediterranean. And should Erdogan seek some adventure, he will simply sign his own sentence.

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