Tur­key’s re­vi­sion­ist com­ments

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY COSTAS IORDANIDIS

Ten­sions be­tween Athens and Ankara seem to be bub­bling ever more fu­ri­ously un­der the sur­face as a re­sult of Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan’s suc­ces­sive re­vi­sion­ist state­ments re­gard­ing the 1923 Treaty of Lau­sanne that de­fined the coun­try’s borders with Europe. By law, the only way for an in­ter­na­tional treaty to be amended is for all the sig­na­to­ries to agree to it – in this case Greece, Tur­key, Bri­tain, France, Ro­ma­nia and Ja­pan – and that is not likely to hap­pen. There­fore, the only course would be a uni­lat­eral chal­lenge or vi­o­la­tion of the treaty. All of this, of course, be­longs in the realm of the- ory. In the real world, the fact is that West­ern forces in­volved in the war against the As­sad regime in Syria are push­ing for the es­tab­lish­ment of an au­tonomous Kur­dish zone on the Turk­ish-Syr­ian bor­der, while at the same time, the frag­men­ta­tion of Iraq and the cre­ation of such a Kur­dish zone is re­garded by Ankara as a har­bin­ger of an in­de­pen­dent Kur­dish state. The Treaty of Sevres in 1920 fore­saw a ref­er­en­dum for the cre­ation of a Kur­dish state which in­cluded a large chunk of modern Tur­key and a part of Mo­sul in Syria, though this changed en­tirely af­ter the Asia Mi­nor disas­ter and was not even men­tioned in the Lau­sanne agree­ment. Over the past few years, Ankara has grad­u­ally lost its in­flu­ence south of its borders and is now try­ing to make up for lost time as it eyes a role in the shap­ing of the new map in that area. Mean­while, it is com­mon knowl­edge that Tur­key is go­ing through a pe­riod of ma­jor in­sta­bil­ity, both on the do­mes­tic and for­eign pol­icy fronts, and that Er­do­gan is an un­pre­dictable, even reck­less leader. It comes as no sur­prise, there­fore, that Athens should be con­cerned by his com­ments. Athens, how­ever, should not re­strict it­self to draw­ing up the­o­ries and an­a­lyz­ing what­ever state­ments are made by Turk­ish of­fi­cials. It should be pre­par­ing for the worst-case sce­nario. So far, with the ex­cep­tion of Greece, none of the na­tions that signed the Lau­sanne Treaty have waded into the de­bate re­gard­ing Er­do­gan’s com­ments, or al­tered their for­eign pol­icy goals. So, while Greece’s con­cerns are well-jus­ti­fied, it runs the risk of turn­ing the sit­u­a­tion into an in­ter­na­tional is­sue by its con­stant rep­e­ti­tion of Ankara’s state­ments re­gard­ing the mi­nor­ity in Thrace or some Aegean is­lands. If our po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship truly be­lieves that Tur­key is a threat, then it should be pre­par­ing for the worst rather than en­gag­ing in a war of words that sug­gests noth­ing but in­se­cu­rity.

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