When in mid-September the Turkish research vessel Oruc Reis and the accompanying warships of the Turkish fleet left Greek territorial waters, many interpreted this as a gesture of goodwill by Erdogan so that Greece could begin talks with him.
It was then that Merkel intervened, for the second time, to defuse the crisis, and the withdrawal of Turkish ships was interpreted as the result of the pressure she exerted on Erdogan. But it was believed that the decision was also connected to both countries wanting to start talks immediately.
The Turks at the time claimed that they had withdrawn the research ship for "routine maintenance." Few believed them.
During that period, many tried to mediate. Among other things, talks began between Greeks and Turks within NATO and elsewhere.
And then what does Erdogan do? He opened – after 46 years – Varosha, the coastal resort of occupied Famagusta, in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.
Many interpreted it as a decision aimed at helping the candidate of his choice in the Turkish Cypriot elections.
It could have been that too.
However, he can not escape the condemnation that above all, his decision constitutes a terrible provocation which could be perceived as a third invasion against Hellenism. His action drives the countries even further apart – and of course, will not help start talks and negotiations.
Nevertheless, the Greek Foreign Minister agreed to meet with his Turkish counterpart where, according to a statement from the Greek Foreign Ministry, "the Turkish side pledged to propose a date for the start of an exploratory dialogue between the two sides."
Despite this, Erdogan responded with the new dispatch of the Oruc Reis.
Even if we accept the unlikely scenario that Erdogan is trying to dispense of his Foreign Minister, it is of no consequence to us either way because the only one that matters is the man at the top, Erdogan.
Every time Turkey – for whatever reason – wants to pressure Greece on something, it sends the Oruc Reis into the Aegean. This situation cannot continue. At some point something will go wrong and the area will catch fire.
That is why even now, even though we are just a few days before the American election, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo must intervene in a very clear way to Erdogan. After his two visits to Greece within a year – the most recent one bringing him to the U.S. facilities at Souda Bay, which will be the base for an American helicopter carrier – he is very familiar with the issue.
This situation simply cannot continue.