ATHENS – Former Greek foreign minister Dora Bakoyianni – sister of Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis – said if war breaks out with Turkey over provocations in the Aegean and East Mediterranean that Greece will be isolated.
Despite having a technical military and strategic cooperation deal with the United States, and with Greek and Turkey both belong to NATO – which has stayed far away from their feud – she said no one will come to the aid of Greece, a member of the European Union.
In a series of tweets, Bakoyianni said that war with Turkey doesn’t make sense, even as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he will send energy drillships off Crete near Greek waters, because “nobody will sacrifice themselves” for Greece.
With relations at an all-time low as Erdogan ramps up provocations – Turkish drillships are in Cypriot waters hunting for oil and gas – she said diplomacy is the only answer although it’s not yet proved effective in dealing with the volatile and often bellicose Turkish leader.
The two countries nearly went to war in 1996 in a dispute over who owned the uninhabited rocky islet of Imia that left three Greek servicemen dead from a still-mysterious helicopter crash that critics said was covered up to prevent a conflict, their deaths still unexplained.
Mitsotakis and Erdogan met recently but the Greek leader got nowhere with his counterpart while insisting that “goodwill” would eventually break down Turkish talk of trying to claim Greek seas.
Turkey and Libya signed an agreement – ratified only by Turkey so far – dividing up the seas between them with Turkey claiming areas off Rhodes and Crete, to the denunciation of Greece which got only lip service support from the EU and none from the US or NATO.
In October, pointing to the Kurds who were left on their own to face an invading Turkish army after helping American forces fight ISIS, Russia’s EU ambassador Vladimir Chizhov said a defense deal the US signed with Greece was worthless and Greece could face the same fate from the administration of President Donald Trump.
In an interview with TASS news agency on the sidelines of a conference on Rhodes island Chizhov said Greece was “wrong” to sign the revised defense deal with the US that came with a visit of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who hailed it as the US was seeking a greater military presence.
Tension has risen after Greece gave asylum to eight Turkish servicemen that Erdogan said took part in a failed July 2016 coup attempt against him, two Greek soldiers later released were held prisoner in Turkey after accidentally crossing the border, Erdogan allowing human traffickers to flood Greek islands with refugees and migrants, and what he said was Greece harboring terrorists he said tried to overthrow him.
The two countries have diplomatic problems over the rights of Turkish-Muslim and Greek-Orthodox communities, and Greek support for or inaction toward terrorist groups targeting Turkey, the Turkish Daily Sabah reported.
Erdogan was upset with a plan by Greece’s former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA, ousted in July 7 snap elections by New Democracy, to extend territorial waters to 12 nautical miles (13.8 miles) that would put most of the Aegean under Greek control, including islands so close to Turkey that Erdogan also said he could shout at them, wanting their return after they were ceded away in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne he doesn’t recognize.
Turkey at the time said if Greece went ahead with extending its territorial waters that it would be cause for war and other Turkish officials have warned of military action to protect what they claimed were their country’s rights.