US step­ping in to ease Greece, Turkey ten­sions

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Wash­ing­ton ap­pears to have ac­ti­vated a chan­nel of com­mu­ni­ca­tion with Ankara in a bid to re­duce the re­cent spike in ten­sions with Greece in the Aegean Sea.

Ac­cord­ing to sources, the US re­cently asked Ankara to tone down its ag­gres­sive stance in the Aegean. It is not known how Ankara has taken the Amer­i­can ini­tia­tive, but it is clear that Wash­ing­ton fears a pos­si­ble in­ci­dent in the Aegean between the two NATO al­lies, which could desta­bi­lize the al­liance’s south­east wing.

Mean­while, the in­cen­di­ary rhetoric em­a­nat­ing from Ankara, al­beit from non­gover­ment politi­cians, con­tin­ued yes­ter­day with the leader of the ul­tra-right MHP party Devlet Bahceli speak­ing of Greek is­lands that re­mained “un­der oc­cu­pa­tion.”

Bahceli is an ally of Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan and sup­ports the bid by the Turk­ish pres­i­dent to ex­pand his ex­ec­u­tive pow­ers in the ref­er­en­dum that will take place in Turkey on April 16.

Cit­ing what he de­scribed as in­ter­na­tional law, Bahceli called for the “un­con­di­tional end to the oc­cu­pa­tion of the is­lands,” re­fer­ring to a string of is­lands and islets in the east­ern Aegean.

He went even fur­ther, re­fer­ring to the Greek-Turk­ish war in 1922 and the way the Greek army was de­feated by Turk­ish forces in Asia Mi­nor – with­out, how­ever, men­tion­ing the Greek pop­u­la­tion of Turkey which was up­rooted as a re­sult of the war.

“If [the Greeks] want to fall back into the sea [re­fer­ring to how the Greek army was pushed out of Asia Mi­nor] and if they are up to it, they are wel­come to do it. The Turk­ish army is ready,” he said.

The MHP leader also said the di­vided is­land of Cyprus is Turk­ish. Since the re­cent es­ca­la­tion of ten­sion between Greece and Turkey, progress in the UN-backed peace talks between Greek and Turk­ish Cypri­ots has stalled.

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