ΑΝΚΑRA – Revising and disputing history, Turkey is continuing to blame Greece for near-conflict tension levels between them, citing a range of issue including Greece violating the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne – which Turkey doesn’t recognize.
Turkey’s state-run broadcaster TRT World, which operates 24 hours a day in English and, like other government supporting media is required to back President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Greece is arousing troubles on five fronts.
- Violating Turkey’s airspace
- Giving refuge to terrorist organizations
- Trying to keep Turkey from drilling for energy in the seas
- Keeping troops on Aegean islands
- Undermining the Muslim minority in Thrace
The site didn’t even include Erdogan’s current bugaboo – that Greek missile defense systems locked on to Turkish F-16 fighter jets accompanying an American B-52 bomber during a NATO mission.
Erdogan, faced with a tough re-election fight in 2023 – as is Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis – was said by even Turks to be raising the prospect of war to deflect from record inflation and rouse nationalists.
He is, said Greek officials, using Greece as a bête noire, emboldened by the reluctance until recently of the European Union and United States to confront him to ratchet down the tension levels, and the United Nations and NATO wanting no part of the feuds.
TRT World also said that the United States’ lifting of an arms embargo for Cyprus was making matters worse although Turkey keeps a 35,000-strong standing army on the occupied side that’s fully armed.
But while Turkey keeps troops there, the government wants Greece to remove troops from Aegean islands near Turkey’s coast that would leave them open to invasion by Turkish forces.
Turkey said Greek troops aren’t allowed on those islands under the Lausanne Treaty that Erdogan doesn’t accept but cites when it is to advantage to poke Greece and try to get international attention.
While Greece has recorded thousands of violations of its airspace by Turkish fighter jets, Turkey claims some of those same areas – and curiously is supported by the US in those assertions, Washington taking both sides.
Greece has denied all the claims made by Erdogan and other Turkish officials as nonsensical bombast being used to whip up war support, and for which no proof has been given, just talk.
That includes the assertion that Greece is training terrorists in secret camps, Erdogan wary after a failed 2016 coup attempt against him he said was led by followers of American-exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen.
Turkey, already drilling for oil and gas in Cypriot waters in defiance of soft EU sanctions, wants to do the same off Greek islands and claims large swathes of the Aegean and East Mediterranean as its own.
The Turkish news site didn’t mention that Erdogan said it would be a cause for war if Greece doubled its maritime boundaries to 12 miles, which would keep Turkey locked out of the seas off of much of its coast.
The other complaints concerns the Muslim minority in Western Thrace near Turkey’s border – who are Turkish but whom Greece won’t allow to be identified by ethnicity, only by religion.
Turkey said Muslims in the Xanthi areas there aren’t having their rights respected, including to name their own mufti, a religious leader, who is picked by the Greek Orthodox government from a shortlist put together by Muslims.