Erdoğan questions historic treaty

With strong words about the Treaty of Lausanne Erdoğan not only called into question his country's founding myth but also its borders with Greece: the Turkish president described the 1923 treaty which defines the borders of modern Turkey as humiliating and lamented the loss of Aegean islands to Greece it entailed. Are his words a real threat for Athens and Nicosia?

Open/close all quotes (GR) /

Neighbours have no reason to panic

History professor Giannis Stefanidis introduces a note of sobriety into the debate:

“Regardless of what the Turkish nationalists are fantasising about, changing the borders is not a practical political goal. ... As postwar history shows, the only way to question a state's borders is when a country becomes a failed state (as has happened in colonial empires or other authoritarian multi-ethnic states such as the former Yugoslavia, Pakistan and Sudan). But even in such cases those who benefit are not the revisionist, expansionist neighbours but only the national separatists. Now, what are the chances of Greece becoming a failed state and entering a phase of disintegration? The economic crisis and the political parties' failure to deal with it could have opened this Pandora's Box - if there had been ethnic groups that wanted to achieve their independence or become part of a neighbouring state.”

Agos (TR) /

President should take closer look at Lausanne treaty

If Erdoğan is going to bring up the subject of the Treaty of Lausanne he should adhere to the guarantee of equal rights for minorities it contains, the weekly paper of the Armenian minority Agos demands:

“Even though the Treaty of Lausanne lags behind today's universal human rights and minority rights, Turkey has frequently disregarded the rules it lays out. If you look at the articles governing the rights of members of different groups you realise that both in the past and present Turkey has repeatedly violated these rules. … When Erdoğan puts this topic on the agenda his false words correspond to the lie that the right-wing Islamist wing has spread for a long time. Moreover this wing is not worried about violations of the above-mentioned rules. On the contrary, on this particular point it shares the same view as the [Kemalist] elites of the republic.”

Hürriyet (TR) /

Ankara needs to adopt a more diplomatic tone

Precisely because Ankara is currently conducting a military operation in Syria it must choose its words more carefully, Hürriyet advises:

“Turkey is working on preserving the borders with Syria and Iraq that were fixed in Lausanne. We are facing problems that must be solved for us to survive. … But the Euphrates Shield operation must be conducted not just with military means but also through skilled diplomacy. A style or behaviour that could raise suspicions that Turkey is pursuing an imperialist policy must be avoided at all cost. Enthusiastic words said to provide motivation within the country can provoke distrust and reflex reactions. … Turkey is going through a truly critical phase. It needs diplomatic language, political rationalism and to win friends just as much as it needs strength and resolve.”

To Vima (GR) /

Athens must protect its borders on its own

Greece won't be able to count on Europe's help if the conflict with Ankara escalates, To Vima fears:

“No one believes that if Turkey launches aggressive operations against Greece Europe will hurry to its aid on the grounds that European borders are under threat. This is just a fairy tale and we all know it. We saw this with the crisis on the small uninhabited island of Imia [in 1996], we are seeing it now with the refugee problem and we have experienced it for years with the daily violations of our air space [by Turkish fighter jets]. … We should forget the fairy tales and realise that the idea of common European borders exists only in our imagination. … We should put an end to the deception and lies and recognise that if we don't protect our borders ourselves no one in Europe will do it for us.”

Phileleftheros (CY) /

President harbours dangerous plan

Greece and Cyprus should take the Turkish president's strong words seriously, Phileleftheros warns:

“It could be that Erdoğan's remarks are a sign of the pressure the regime is under because of the redrawing of borders in Iraq and Syria. But we shouldn't play down the fact that these statements are tied up with a plan and big goals. The Erdoğan regime is determined to present results that show Turkey has grown stronger and expanded by 2023, the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Turkish state. … Erdoğan's plans affect us because we need to find a solution to the Cyprus question with this politician. He has already chosen the direction his country will take. And what are we doing? We are concentrating dogmatically on known facts even though there are constant new developments and the other side is making its own plans.”

Kathimerini (GR) /

Athens should be alert

Erdoğan was not only trying to score points with his own people with his nationalist rhetoric, Kathimerini warns: It is not easy to accept the interpretation that Erdoğan's remarks were only intended for domestic consumption. Because we should be worried that he only referred to the Aegean islands even though the Treaty of Lausanne deals with all the borders of present-day Turkey. Ankara is likely putting such issues on the agenda in order to arm itself for future developments with Nato and the EU and sending signals in different directions for the event that a Kurdish state is created [in Syria]. Greece must remain calm but be alert and prepared.