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Politics

Turkish Media Frenzy Grows, Challenges Greek Islands Sovereignty

ΑΝΚΑRΑ – With independent media pushed out and journalists jailed for critical articles, Turkey’s pro-government newspapers and outlets are lining up behind President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s demand Greece take troops off Aegean islands near Turkey’s coast or face the consequences.

The hot rhetoric has picked up since Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, in an address to the US Congress, urged American lawmakers to reject President Joe Biden’s plan to sell Turkey more F-16 fighter jets that could be used against Greece in a conflict, the chances rising.

Mitsotakis didn’t mention Turkey by name – no explanation why he shied away – and he has also been building alliances and Greece is buying French Rafale fighter jets and warships and wants American warships too.

Erdogan, said Kathimerini, was irked that Mitsotakis – without naming Turkey – indicated nevertheless that country was authoritarian, its hopes of joing the European Union, which began in 2005, worsening under Erdogan’s hardline rule.

Since Mitsotakis’ visit to the US, Erdogan won’t talk to him and has increased his belligerence although the Greek leader said he will continue to try diplomacy and dialogue although it has failed outright.

The Turkish daily Hurriyet duly noted that Mitsotakis was applauded 37 times in his 42-minute speech to Congress and media outlets in Turkey concentrated on Turkey’s demands to demilitarize Greek islands.

To back that, Erdogan has cited the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne that Turkey doesn’t recognize unless invoking to its advantage and Mitsotakis said Greece is ready if it comes to a fight, the military on high alert.

Turkish coverage picked up when Mitsotakis visited the islands of Pserimos, Kos and Astypalaia, reporting how the treaty ceded away islands and with Erdogan openly admitting he wants them, saying the treaty in this case is invalid.

A Turkish TV crew tried to get close to Pserimos on the pretext that its sovereignty is disputed, reminding of when a Turkish media mission in 1996 put a Turkish flag on one of the uninhabited islets of Imia, which nearly led to a conflict and saw four Greek servicemen die in a mysterious helicopter crash still unexplained.

Turkish Foreigh Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who hinted Turkey would use force – as did Erdogan – if Greece doesn’t take troops off Greek islands, told Turkey’s Anadolu Agency the sovereignty of those islands would be challenged otherwise.

Turkish TV shows pout up maps trying to show that Greece is the “instrument of foreign powers” attempting to “encircle” Turkey and essentially ignoring any responses from Greece in favor of pro-Erdogan propaganda.

Turkey is pushing a so-called Blue Homeland doctrine claiming parts of the Aegan and East Mediterrean, where it plans to drill for oil and gas, and has said that it would be a cause for war if Greece doubles its maritime boundaries to 12 miles.

Political analysts say the media’s preoccupation with Greece is designed to steer attention away from record inflation and the worsening quality of life for Turks who re-elected Erdogan, who will run again in 2023.

The media drumbeat, said Kathimerini, reminds of that before Turkey twice invaded the northern part of Cyprus in 1974, still holding the occupied territory and worries that Erdogan wants more, including those Greek islands.

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