The tension between Turkey and Greece continues to deepen. Both countries are NATO allies, but unfortunately, the tension is not new.
Greece claims that its many islands in the region automatically gives it drilling rights as the main actor, while Turkey objects to this claim since it has the longest shores in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea.
Athens wants to disenfranchise Ankara, and Turkey claims its rights under the waters surrounding it.
Turkey’s feeling of exclusion should be well understood. Greece’s territorial claims leave no space for its neighbor, and Ankara does not accept that. What makes the issue much more complicated is that many international powers who want to take a share of the energy bid are involved. Additionally, Turkey is a NATO member but not a member of the European Union, whereas the Greek Cypriot administration is not a NATO member but an EU member.
On the other hand, France is involved in siding with Greece since Emmanuel Macron's government is angry about Turkey’s politics in Libya. Paris sent fighter jets and warships to the region, which deepened the crisis. Greece, encouraged by France’s support, announced an extension of its territorial waters to 12 nautical miles (22 km), a very provocative act.
In short, the crisis is worsening, and neither the EU nor NATO seem to be capable of preventing this crisis in a time when the world is dealing with a number of serious crises like the COVID-19 pandemic, the Syrian civil war and the turmoil in Libya.
Turkey feels alone and excluded, and it has very understandable reasons for this. Ankara is a strong actor with the capability to search for its own energy resources and it recently announced that it found a new gas reserve in the Black Sea.
International actors siding with Greece, despite Athens' hostile attitude, makes the problem become unsolvable.
I think Germany holding the rotating chairmanship of the EU Council is a chance to solve the crisis. Berlin is trying to create a negotiating table, but, with Greece’s maximalist demands, a solution does not seem to be reachable. Athens should come to a more rational position, and both the Greek Cypriot administration and Greece should stop using their EU membership to make endless claims.
It should be remembered that Turkey is still a candidate country for EU membership.
I am a journalist who has always defended the EU's stake in Turkey. I believe that both Turkey and the EU’s best interests lie in Turkish membership in the union. Therefore, Brussels should not alienate Ankara because of the Greek Cypriot administration's provocations. It should create a balance.
Greece and Turkey are neighbors, they are interdependent and they are to live together whether in peace or in crisis. I think peace is a much better option for both.
The Turkish position is not a governmental attitude. Those who seek to oppose President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan are wrong. Turkey's stance is a state policy shared by many political actors before the current government.