Erdogan uses historic visit to fuel tensions with Greece

A state visit of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Greece on 7 December took place in a tense environment. Although widely anticipated as an opportunity for Ankara to improve its political position by breaking through the international isolation it faces, Erdogan used this occasion to highlight Greek-Turkish differences and press revisionist claims.

Erdogan specifically stated that the 1923 Lausanne treaty defining the Greek-Turkish border was being applied unfairly to the Muslim minority in Greece, adding somewhat ambiguously that there were also outstanding issues on "military topics". These claims were refuted by Greek leadership, President Prokopis Pavlopoulos referred to the treaty as non-negotiable. Other issues discussed were those of the Turkish officers who fled to Greece following the 2016 coup attempt, the situation in Cyprus and the Greek-Turkish sovereignty dispute in the Aegean Sea. The latter brought these countries, otherwise allies, on the brink of war in twice, in 1987, and 1996, thus showcasing a major NATO weakness in the region. Pressing revisionist claims against an EU member will further deteriorate Turkey's already unfriendly relations with the Union, who is displeased with Ankara's blackmail on migration and with the direction that Turkish political life took under Erdogan.

About author: Mihai Turcanu


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