Strate­gic threat across the Aegean

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY ALEXIS PAPACHELAS

doesn’t re­sult in an easy or swift vic­tory. Greek of­fi­cials say it should not be ruled out that Ankara will seek to open up a sec­ond front in the Aegean Sea or the East­ern Mediter­ranean re­gion. On Fri­day, the com­man­der of the Turk­ish armed forces, Hu­lusi Akar, said that Turkey has the ca­pa­bil­ity to con­duct mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions in Afrin and the Aegean at the same time. Athens has carved out its red lines. The ba­sic one is that if Turk­ish sol­diers land on an un­in­hab­ited Greek is­land in the Aegean, there will be an im­me­di­ate re­sponse. The dan­ger of an es­ca­la­tion due to an ac­ci­dent in the air or at sea is al­ways real. Tra­di­tional me­di­a­tors have their own dif­fi­cul­ties in com­mu­ni­cat­ing with Ankara at times of ten­sion. US Pres­i­dent Don- ald Trump is send­ing his na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser and his sec­re­tary of state to Ankara to sal­vage what they can from Turk­ish-Amer­i­can re­la­tions. It’s clear that at this stage the Amer­i­cans have not writ­ten off Turkey and they will do ev­ery­thing they can not to lose it. This makes the cur­rent pe­riod both sus­pect and dan­ger­ous. For their part, the Euro­peans are also fac­ing dif­fi­cul­ties with Turkey. Who­ever still be­lieves that Turkey’s Euro­pean Union prospects are a true lever of pres­sure on Ankara must be liv­ing in a fan­tasy world. The Turks have re­al­ized that they will never be­come a proper EU mem­ber and are plan­ning ac­cord­ingly. Greece and Turkey will con­tinue play­ing cat and mouse around the Imia islets and all over the Aegean. Ex­pe­ri­enced of­fi­cials in Athens know that the key is to avoid an un­con­trol­lable es­ca­la­tion as a re­sult of an ac­ci­dent or a com­pli­ca­tion or an em­broil­ment. One would hope that our po­lit­i­cal leader, would dis­cuss, at least in­for­mally, this dan­ger­ous state of events through in­for­mal chan­nels. Un­for­tu­nately, th­ese chan­nels do not ex­ist, nor does the re­quired trust, and the gov­ern­ment is to blame for this. On the con­trary, bridges are be­ing burnt, and ir­repara­bly, while there is a lack of fig­ures who could rise above the par­ties and the fray to unite and im­pose an el­e­men­tary un­der­stand­ing.

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