Is Turkey preparing for war?

The signals from Ankara are becoming increasingly aggressive: neighbouring Greece, it alleges, is arming certain Aegean islands in breach of international law. During a major military exercise last week, President Erdoğan warned of serious consequences. Athens is rejecting Turkish territorial claims, but is attempting to avoid an escalation. Commentators from the two countries assess the tensions.

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Liberal (GR) /

Stirring up Turkish society

News website Liberal describes the mood in the neighbouring country:

“The statements made in the Turkish media in recent days are beyond belief. It starts with the initiators of the 'Blue Homeland', who seriously claim that Greece occupied Turkish islands, and continues all the way to those who call on their government to attack two or three islands. ... To show the Greeks who's boss! .... We would like to point out that in our neighbouring country a climate is cultivated that leads to conflict with mathematical precision. It will get to the point where it will be practically impossible to choose the path of common sense because the Turkish public would perceive it as a 'retreat'.”

Sabah (TR) /

Greek expansionism is the problem

The Greeks are projecting their expansionism on the Turks, comments the pro-government daily Sabah:

“Viewed realistically, the Turkish and Greek peoples know each other well and their cultures are similar. We always say: let's talk to each other and share the riches. But they say: 'it's all ours'. We must find a common denominator and strengthen it. The parties have to agree on one point. Greece, which has tripled its territory within 200 years, is accusing Turkey of expansionism. People who themselves have no more space left to expand into are calling us expansionists.”

Kathimerini (GR) /

What matters now is communication

Alexis Papachelas, editor-in-chief of Kathimerini, warns:

“Avoiding escalation is a great art. One wrong move, statement or decision can trigger a spiral of endless actions and counteractions… We should know exactly what our key partners and allies are thinking and planning to do in the event of an incident. ... It is better to know the truth and the limits of each ally’s reaction than to be unpleasantly surprised. … And of course we must put aside partisan and personal issues for a while, because without a solid domestic political front one cannot go very far. We must keep some elementary channels of communication open with the other side”

Proto Thema (GR) /

Erdoğan is capable of anything

The Turkish president is under pressure and that makes him dangerous, Proto Thema warns:

“Who can say whether Erdoğan - hoping to escape his problems at home and abroad, where he is in danger of being left isolated, and in view of next year's general election - will not risk engaging in a hot incident in the Aegean? Is the daily escalation of tensions with his and his loyal staff's inflammatory statements aimed only at improving his image in Turkey or is there another plan for a show of force? The departure from diplomatic language and international norms of acceptable behaviour and the closure of communication channels [by Ankara] are deplorable moves. But they are also a wake-up call to make us realise what he is capable of doing in his desperation.” (GR) /

The situation could spiral out of control

Protagon fears an escalation this summer:

“The Turks have decided to actively challenge the status quo in the Aegean. The scene of the confrontation will not be the eastern Mediterranean, dozens of miles from Crete and Kastelorizo, but the Aegean, where the movements of warships and air battles are visible on all the islands. ... There could be a new confrontation between fleets, as in the case of the [research vessel] 'Oruç Reis' in the summer and autumn of 2020, while the fleets of Nato and Russia are also sailing the Aegean due to the war in Ukraine. Can such a crisis be controlled? The answer is simple: 'to a certain extent'. Because what Ankara has announced carries the very serious risk of an accident.”