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Erdogan’s tricky message when he calls for “peace with Greece”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for peace with Greece saying he does not want any more tensions. But what kind of ‘peace’ does Erdogan has in mind? t He wants exchange of Turkish servicemen for the Greek soldiers and that Greece makes concessions in the Aegean Sea. “peace” in Erdogan’s mind means that Greece sits at the table with Turkey and negotiates the nonnegotiable: the islets in the Aegean Ankara claims they belong to Turkey. At the same time, Erdogan said he will put forward the exchange of 8 Turkish soldiers who fled after the failed coup with the two Greek soldiers in Turkish custody. Although there is no comparison to the situation of the Greek soldiers in custody for violating the borders and the Turkish soldiers who voluntarily sought political asylum in Greece.

In an interview with Turkish private NTV, Erdogan said:

  • “We need peace now. Besides, our peace with you is like no other.”

On the tensions in the Aegean and claiming that Turkish commandos took down the flag from a Greek island, Erdogan said:

  • “We don’t want the tension thermometer to rise in the Aegean. We are not trying to do that. We see Greece as our neighbor. Even if there are some problems, we want to overcome them. To sit on the table and leave them behind. It is the sea and the air (…). Airplanes and ships to pass freely (…). Why put a shade and stain? We need peace in the world. Besides, our peace with Greece does not look like any other.” 

He added that “Turkey does not want to pose a threat to Greece. If they see Turkey as a threat, I can not say anything. But we have no plans to threaten anyone. “

He also praised the Greek Prime Minister saying “Young, dynamic Tsipras desires to take a new step, in my last visit I saw the [Greek] president [Pavlopoulos] in the same spirit.”

On the issue of the two Greek soldiers in custody, Erdogan set another condition: If  Athens extradites the 8 Turkish soldiers, Ankara could put the issue of Greek soldiers on the table.

  • “They (Greece) ask us to give back the Greek soldiers and we told them ‘if you make such a demand, you should first give us FETO soldiers involved in a coup against our state. We are going to put [the issue] on the table now.

At the same time, he gave a hint about a possible punishment the Greek soldiers would face for having violated the Turkish borders.

  • In the past [note: 3 decades ago], our soldiers who violated the borders was convicted to six months.

In a more milder tune than his Minister for European Affairs, Erdogan said “At this moment, the first stop of those FETO fleeing to Europe is Greece. The fugitives go to Greece first and then they spread to different parts of Europe. You are forcing us into it. This report, which has been announced at the moment, is certainly a complete reminder to completely disrupt the relationship. It is totally far from being constructive.”

Is Erdogan really striving for peace with Greece? Hardly.

We may experience a de-escalation in the Aegean Sea at least until the snap elections in Turkey on June 24. However, Erdogan will not step back from challenging the Greek sovereignty. He and his ministers have clearly set the Turkish claims much too high to be able to give them up. In its statement on April 18th, the Turkish Foreign Ministry reiterated the steadfast policy of Ankara in the last two decades that “the territorial waters and the airspace above Imia islets are exclusively under Turkish sovereignty.

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One comment

  1. Baghdad Bob had more credibility than this maniac. Europe should move its naval forces into the Aegean as a sign of solidarity. After all, they wouldn’t want to risk losing their “investment” in Greece from the debt “relief” they’ve provided.