Even with new Greek PM in of­fice, hopes of bet­ter ties with Turkey re­main bleak

Global Times US Edition - - ASIANREVIE­W - The ar­ti­cle is from the Xin­hua News Agency. opin­[email protected]­al­times.com.cn

As Turkey hopes for a new era of ties with Greece un­der new Greek Prime Min­is­ter Kyr­i­akos Mit­so­takis, ex­perts have gloomy pre­dic­tions of progress on is­sues such as the Aegean Sea and the more im­me­di­ate hy­dro­car­bon drillings off Cyprus.

“I called Mit­so­takis and con­grat­u­lated him. My wish is to open this new chap­ter with Greece in peace and in sol­i­dar­ity. Our de­sire is not to ex­pe­ri­ence any sort of dif­fi­culty in the Mediter­ranean or the Aegean in the up­com­ing pe­riod,” Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan told re­porters on Mon­day.

“Re­solv­ing dis­putes with Greece is very dif­fi­cult for Turkey. Who­ever comes to power in Athens, one should not ex­pect any change in Greece’s stance to­ward Turkey or un­re­solved prob­lems be­tween them,” said Hasim Turker, a se­nior re­searcher at the Ankara-based think tank Bospho­rus Cen­ter for Asian Stud­ies.

Turker pre­dicted more fric­tions be­tween the two coun­tries in the com­ing pe­riod, espe­cially over hy­dro­car­bon drillings in the Eastern Mediter­ranean.

“Turkey has vi­tal in­ter­ests in the Aegean and Eastern Mediter­ranean and will never let its in­ter­est baf­fled by any other coun­try. In this con­text, we can­not com­pletely rule out the pos­si­bil­ity of a hot con­flict, al­though it is un­likely to happen,” said the for­mer navy of­fi­cer who led sev­eral mis­sions off Cyprus.

Turkey and Greece have ex­pe­ri­enced se­ri­ous ten­sions in the past over dis­puted zones in the shared Aegean Sea. They came to the brink of an armed con­flict in 1996 be­cause of sovereignt­y claims by both sides on islets in the Aegean.

An­other source of im­me­di­ate con­flict is drilling for hy­dro­car­bon re­serves off Cyprus.

Turkey and the self-pro­claimed Turk­ish Repub­lic of North­ern Cyprus, an en­tity rec­og­nized solely by Turkey, have long con­demned the Greek gov­ern­ment for con­duct­ing ac­tiv­i­ties in the dis­puted wa­ters of the Eastern Mediter­ranean, claim­ing that Greece vi­o­lated the rights of Turkey and the un­der­wa­ter re­serves be­long to both com­mu­ni­ties.

Turkey and Cyprus have both claimed ju­ris­dic­tion over ar­eas around Cyprus, a re­gion rich in nat­u­ral gas.

Turkey has also sent two ships to the Eastern Mediter­ranean for hy­dro­car­bon drilling, fac­ing the ire of the Euro­pean Union.

The Cyprus is­land has been di­vided since 1974 when Turkey in­ter­vened mil­i­tar­ily fol­low­ing a coup by Athens-backed Greek Cypri­ots.

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