Turkish-Greek relations – what are the problems to be solved?

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Tensions over the continental shelf and borders were the main differences between Turkey and Greece, but now a series of new problems have emerged, all of which will involve other players.

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According to international news agencies, Turkey and Greece are preparing to hold the sixty-first consultative meeting to resolve old differences, and Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias will leave for Turkey to attend the meeting after his visit to Libya.

And Dendias went to Benghazi, Libya, to open his country’s consulate, while the prime minister of the interim government of the Libyan National Alliance, headed by 5 MPs and 14 ministers, went to Ankara.

Now Athena wants to show that it pays special attention to the Libyan issue and the regional competition with Turkey in Libya.

A long long way ahead

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu announced a detailed meeting between him, and his Greek counterpart and his accompanying delegation, Thursday, after which he will head to Greece with his deputies and experts.

Therefore، in describing the current situation of the Athens and Ankara negotiations and the relations between Turkey and Greece, it must be said that this road is long and it may not be possible to reach a final result in the short term.

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But what matters is that the two sides have a clear will to continue negotiations.

Tensions over the continental shelf and borders were the main differences between Turkey and Greece, but now a series of new problems have emerged, all of which will be resolved by other factors.

Turkey’s moves in the eastern Mediterranean to explore for oil and gas, the maritime agreement between Turkey and Libya, Turkey’s repeated assertion of the need for an independent Turkish Cypriot state، and Turkey’s accusation to Greece of supporting Athens against three anti-Turkish terrorist groups. The most serious political differences between Turkey and Greece.

Cyprus, the big problem

It can be said with confidence that the dispute over the fate of Cyprus is not only the most important dispute between Turkey and Greece, but it is also one of the most important differences between Turkey and the European Union.

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Turkey’s repeated demand to recognize the “Turkish Republic of Cyprus” and the presence of 70,000 Turkish soldiers and police in the Turkish Cypriot sector for five decades is not something that Greece can easily digest.

Deep differences over Cyprus and Turkey over the presence of two states on the island of Cyprus also led to a shift in the balance in favor of Greece، as the European Union supported the ideas of Greece and Cyprus.

Greek hyperactivity in competition with Turkey

In recent months, as the strong presence in the eastern Mediterranean at the AKP’s research center turned into a theory called the “Blue Homeland Theory”, Greece launched a wide range of security and diplomatic measures to impede the Turkish moves.

Among the most important steps taken by Greece in this direction was defense and intelligence cooperation with Israel and the sale of an important part of the Greek defense industry to Israeli engineers.

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Another influential step by Greece is the signing of a maritime security agreement with the Arab state of Egypt.

Admiral Cahit Yagi, the innovator and supporter of the Blue Nation theory, believes that in this case, the Greeks put a hat on the Egyptian government.

In addition to supporting Khalifa Haftar, Greece has also established ties with the interim Libyan government، and Greece is said to have been the main supporter of excluding Turkey from the gas producers’ association in the eastern Mediterranean.

Greece and anti-Turkish groups

At the height of left-wing activity in Turkey, in the 1960s and 1970s, many leaders and activists of Turkish leftist movements fled to Greece for fear of arrest and continued their secret organizations from there and from afar.

The so-called Marxist-Leninist Communist Workers’ Party (MLKP), known as an anti-Turkish armed terrorist group, still often conceals its leaders and cadres in Greece.

In addition to the communist group, the PKK has always been active in Greece, and PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan spent some time in Greece after his expulsion from Syria.

Two days ago، Fahrettin Altun، head of the Turkish Presidential Press Service, accused Greece of continuing to support the PKK, saying:

“Greece deals with the real Mediterranean refugees and asylum seekers as hard as possible, but it has allowed its cities to be the nest of the terrorist PKK group.”

“In Greece, in the name of asylum seeking, they continue to organize terrorist activities against Turkey in many Turkish cities,” he added.

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In addition to these two groups, some of the military leaders who masterminded the failed coup of 2016 and the Gulen students fled to Greece and are now living in the country.

However, Greece has never rejected accusations of supporting these groups.

Therefore, one of the important issues that Turkey seeks to pursue is the signing of a security agreement between Athens and Ankara regarding the extradition of perpetrators of terrorist cases and the intensification of the activities of these groups.

But the truth is that until now countries such as Belgium, Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands, which are important points of the PKK’s activities, have not been subject to such an agreement, and most likely this difference in Turkish-Greek relations will remain in effect.

The European Union’s Game and Its Excuses

Greece, with a population of 10 million, cannot be compared to Turkey, neither in terms of population and area، nor in terms of military and economic strength.

Although both countries are members of NATO, power parameters create a dangerous gap between them, and Turkey is stronger in all respects.

But Greece has its own advantages.

Greece, unlike Turkey, is an official member of the European Union, and its membership process in the European Union has been completed and stabilized.

Perhaps for this reason in recent years, despite all the bottlenecks and financial crises caused by the economic turmoil, Greece was able to stand on its feet with the support of the Union European.

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Although the European Union has consistently insisted on human rights, the truth is that it is in European politics.

Greece, a member of the Christian Club, does not equate to the Muslim country in Turkey, and as a result there are wide-ranging differences between Athens and Ankara, as the European Union has never been neutral and has supported Greece.

In conclusion, though, Greece is a small country in terms of political، economic and defense capabilities.

But from a political point of view and the approach of the United States, Europe and NATO towards Greece، Turkey is working to take serious steps to resolve its differences with this country.