The conflict over sovereignty over some islands in the Aegean is becoming more acute. Erdogan threatens his neighbor Greece. Tricky! Both are NATO members. The causes of the conflict are 100 years old and some emotions have causes that are even older. But besides there are other causes.
Many Turks still believe that today’s Turkey has a birth defect, the loss of dominions in Europe and Arabia.
At the founding of today’s Turkey in 1923, she had recaptured many areas lost by the Treaty of Sèvres (1920) or got back by negotiation. Compared to the hull turkey (two provinces on the Black Sea) which remained in 1920, the territory of today’s Turkey is more than twice as large. But especially on the southeastern edge of the country one still believes to have legitimate territorial claims.
Turkey after the Treaty of Sèvres 1920. Various occupation zones and splits Source: Wilimedia under Creative Commons license
Also in the membership of various Aegean islands, the contracts are interpreted in many places very different. Cyprus, which has been an independent republic since 1960, was also occupied by Turkey in 1974, allegedly for the protection of Turks living there, in
response to an attempt by the Greek military junta to annex Cyprus to Greece.
The Ottoman Empire, also religiously founded
The Turks, as occupiers and conquerors, once took over the Greek-Byzantine dominion and made many of the states of Southeastern Europe into tributary tribes over the years. The rule of the Turks, over these lands was established with the caliphate of the Ottoman rulers, since the 16th century.
The Caliph, according to Muslim-theocratic understanding of the state as “the ruler and protector of the faithful” (at least the Sunnis), had not only the right but even the religious duty to spread Islam, be it by fire or by sword. Subjugated countries that preferred to remain Christian were given special tribute. The rule over large parts of Arabia was justified by the caliphate.
South East Europe; more and more states became independent, with the active assistance of Western European powers
Since the independence of Greece in 1830, France, the United Kingdom and Russia in particular felt cheated and over-advantaged, as they were instrumental in making Greece independent and tributary. Also other European countries liberated themselves in the course of the 19th century from the Turkish rule and one of the three powers was always involved. The replacement of the former Arab territories was largely supported and influenced by the British.
Erdogan plays the “Ottoman card”
It is a deep-seated belief among many Turks that the islands right next to the coast are rightfully part of Turkey. The Greeks see this differently with reference to their history and historical role in the Aegean Sea.
For the moment, both sides are content to miss the other little pinpricks and swing pithy speeches, but they have it all.
An article by ” ekathimerini ” juxtaposes excerpts from speeches by Turkish President Erdogan and the replies of Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos.
Erdogan said in a recent speech:
“We will definitely build Turkey,” he said. “If necessary, we will give our lives. If necessary, we will take life. “
“We will not forget the wounds in our hearts caused by the artificial boundaries that pulled them,” he said. “After Afrin comes the resurrection.”
“Those who believe that our statements are bluffs or empty rhetoric will see that they make a deadly mistake,” Erdogan said, adding that his statements are “Turkey’s determination, state policy, and popular sentiment “Reflect. “We will succeed, or we will die.”
Only a few hours later, the Greek Minister of Defense Kammenos countered on the occasion of the Independence Day on March 25:
“We will destroy anyone who dares to question our national sovereignty,” he said.
“Those who think of great Ottoman empires should remember 1821. How the Greek people faced the Ottoman Empire and destroyed it, “he said.
“Our armed forces are ready to face any challenge that affects the territorial integrity of the country,” he said.
As you can see, the subject is treated very emotionally by both sides, and both sides call the story as witnesses, which makes a consensual arrangement difficult for both sides. The economy is struggling in both countries, and neither the Greek nor the Turkish government can afford to lose sight of foreign affairs.
In the end, you should ask the question, “Who uses it?”
Many of the islands belonging to Greece are only a few kilometers away from the Turkish mainland coast. The treaties governing the membership of the islands can be interpreted differently in some places. This has far-reaching consequences in terms of the law of the sea and the exploitation rights around the islands. It should also be noted that some of the disputed islands were never really used by either Greeks or Turks because they are far too small and barren.
The map shows very clearly how complicated the situation is. The Aegean is practically Greek and overlapping territorial claims extend to the eastern Mediterranean.
The blocked drillship should search for oil and natural gas deposits. In the Aegean Sea and near Cyprus, larger natural gas and oil deposits are suspected. If Greece can maintain its territorial claims through the islands, even on the surrounding seabed, the Greeks have the right to exploit and the Turks the neglect.
Now, the question of what it really is, national honor, historical justifiable claims, sovereignty or drilling rights. The topic does not become simpler by the combination of economic interests and national pride on both sides. Where it leads is hardly predictable.
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