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Athens keeps calm amid Ankara escalations

Athens keeps calm amid Ankara escalations

As Turkey intensifies its provocations, both rhetorically and with constant overflights in Greek airspace, Athens is maintaining its composure while at the same time sending out the message that there is no way it will back down from its fixed positions and its sovereign rights.

This includes the letter sent by the Foreign Ministry to the United Nations on Thursday refuting Turkish claims after Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Ankara will dispute the sovereignty of eastern Aegean islands if Greece does not demilitarize them.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis moved along the same wavelength in Davos this week, sending a message to Ankara that Greece will not back down from its rights, with the Greek government considering all possible scenarios in view of the summer.

The basic belief is that Turkey has quickly returned to the stance it had before the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24 – one of tension with Greece, which essentially means Ankara is preparing for a heated summer.

It is expected that Turkey will look to pile on the pressure in all manner of ways and proceed according to the reactions it elicits. Well-informed government sources say that this is Turkey’s standard tactic, which has a threefold aim. First, it means to put pressure on the West based on Ankara’s presumption that the West needs Turkey more than Turkey needs the West.

Its second goal is to establish in the international community that it is a regional independent force and acts as such, while the third goal is to profit from Russia as well – hence its objections to the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO, to Moscow’s satisfaction.

Moreover, the recent purchase by Ankara of a fourth drillship called West Cobalt, capable of drilling to a depth of more than 12,000-12,500 meters, indicates that Turkey may up the ante this summer by sending a rig out in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Meanwhile, asked about the possibility of a Mitsotakis-Erdogan meeting at the NATO summit in Madrid in June, government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou said Greece is “always ready to talk to our neighbors, but certain conditions must be met. And it is certainly not a condition for Greece to behave as Erdogan wishes.”