September 22, 2020

Interview: is the dream of Peace Pipelines coming to an end?

Hille Hanso
Professor Dimitrios Triantaphyllou.
Professor Dimitrios Triantaphyllou.

The dispute between Greece and Turkey over maritime territories goes back generations and remains unresolved. As competition over natural gas resources in the Eastern Mediterranean intensifies, the situation has become dangerously militarised. With the help of Dimitrios Triantaphyllou, professor of International Relations at Kadir Has University in Istanbul, we assess what is different about the same old debate this time and why it has become heated now, and we look at the fallout between the two NATO allies, reactions within the EU, the grievances of both countries and the wider international setting that contributes to the tensions.

What should we keep in mind in the present situation in both the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean?

Before the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 1982, no one talked about exclusive economic zones (EEZs). The extension of the continental shelf is a question of sovereignty, and an EEZ means sovereign rights. That means you can navigate through them, but you cannot exploit them.

In the Eastern Mediterranean region, there are three countries that have not signed UNCLOS—Israel, Syria and Turkey—although Israel has agreed to its national maritime delimitations based on UNCLOS. Hydrocarbons are an essential factor; they make a country a more important player. And if you have them, or control access to them, you have the upper hand in economic bargaining. It is also part of the reason why it is difficult to find a solution over Cyprus. In the Eastern Mediterranean, which is a relatively open sea, this is not a major factor, because no land touches Turkey’s. [Turkey is the only country that recognises the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC)”.—HH]

In the Aegean, yes, there is an issue, and here it is possible to find a formula. For example, extend Greek territorial waters to nine or ten miles and if we are unable to agree, technical experts will take it to arbitration. So, the issue then is: if we go to dialogue, on whose terms?

EEZs are essential because they are not only about oil and gas—they are also about fishing rights. Unless there are regulations, fish will be overexploited. The need to regulate also has to do with renewable energy. Whether it is wind power or geothermal power—both of which need large areas of sea—this becomes an issue because we know that, at some stage, the debate about hydrocarbons will become irrelevant as societies move towards green energy.

What do you say to Turkish claims about “grey zones” in the Aegean, referring to certain uninhabited islands that have also been a cause of tensions in the past?

There are no “grey zones”; how can Greece negotiate its sovereignty? Even if Imia is uninhabited, it is still just as important. Turkey’s arguments based on how far these are from the mainland or the capital are nonsense. It is Greek territory. Turkey says, “We want open-ended dialogue”. This can’t happen when the sovereignty of Greek islands is contested.

Open-ended dialogue meaning Turkey does not want to be restricted by customary international law?

Yes, and then Greece says: “If we cannot find a political solution in these parts, let’s take it to the International Court of Justice or international arbitration, where we will accept whatever the judges say”. Greece says it only discusses the continental shelf and EEZs because one comes with the other. By the way, in the Black Sea, Turkey’s maritime territory is 12 miles; otherwise, it could not have claimed its recently found gas reserves. Turkey accepts UNCLOS principles there.

What are the latest general developments in bilateral relations between Greece and Turkey?

We are now at the stage of trying to de-escalate. One would have expected de-escalation to have happened already but, even though one would think both countries and their leaderships are rational players, rationality is expressed differently in this case.

And why is there de-escalation? Because Turkey decided to escalate. The other side, Greece, said “Well, we cannot sit idly by when you have warships in waters we consider ours”. A strong Turkish reaction is the reason Greece has responded by sending warships to confront Turkish warships accompanying a research vessel, Oruç Reis. One should also not discount what happened on the land border in February and March.

Do you mean the weeks when the Turkish leadership decided to encourage thousands of desperate migrants and refugees to gather on the Greek border, promising them a passage to Europe?

Absolutely. It was a real wake-up call for Greece. Since then, we have this crisis developing, and now it has moved to the sea. What happened at the land border—the instrumentalisation of the refugees and migrants—was slowed down by COVID-19, but it arose again in the summer. And the Greek government decided enough was enough: “Your navy is out, my navy is out”. In turn, this has created a new wave of patriotism in Greece. We can debate whether or not the perceived threat from Turkey is real, but the feeling is there. We also feel many others don’t understand what we are saying.

Is this criticism aimed at the EU?

Not only the EU, other countries too. You in Estonia have your security concerns, and sometimes those further away do not understand them well enough. One might think, “Why are these Greeks shouting about Turkey?” but, for us, it is an issue that has to do with our identity and culture; it is an existential threat.

We also have to keep in mind that we are not talking about countries with similar populations, resources and power. It is not the “exotic Greek” always talking about the Turkish threat when nothing is happening. The history of Turkey and Greece is shaped by interactions with one another and this interaction explains both Turkish and Greek actions and reactions today.

The role of COVID-19 is worth discussing. It has affected Turkey’s already cooling economy, and the popularity of the government. What effect did it have on bilateral relations apart from closed borders?

What is different is that during the rapprochement from 1999 onwards both sides agreed on confidence-building measures (CBMs). They decided to reduce tensions during the summer months for the sake of tourism. Turkey would not violate airspace or send ships, and reduced any pressure, be it political, military, whatever. So, for three or four months, when revenue from tourism was coming in, both agreed to slow things down and benefit from it. But then COVID came along, and very little is left of tourism. I think this has also compounded why we have the crisis in the summer months.

Coming back to using desperate migrants and refugees on its border—this started in February. Then Hagia Sophia happened [the former Christian church turned to a mosque, then to museum was reopened as a mosque], then the ships, and the Chora museum [another former museum] was turned into a mosque as well. These are almost desperate measures. When you listen to Turkish politicians, they seem to perceive Turkey as being increasingly boxed in by other states when it comes to natural resources in the Eastern Mediterranean. In January, the MOU creating the EastMed Gas Forum (EMGF) was signed, without Turkey. Turkey argues that at least the “TRNC” should have been included. Is there a correlation between all these?

I am not sure using refugees and migrants was connected to gas. I think it has more to do with EU funds for the refugees and the domestic political situation in Turkey.

We also have to think about why we have the EMGF. Was Turkey left out, or does it not like the fact that other countries took the initiative? Cyprus is an important player because its discovery is significant. [The Aphrodite offshore gas field is located 160km south of Limassol, within the Cyprus EEZ.—Ed.] Since Turkey does not recognise Cyprus and has created complicated circumstances, others said “OK, we’ll go ahead anyway”. The US ambassador to Greece said in January that the US supported Turkey joining the EMGF.1

Some are saying that, without a pipeline through Turkey, the end price of gas from the Mediterranean would be too high for Europe to buy.

In terms of exploitation, some say the most cost-effective route would be a pipeline through Turkey: I think this is also a reaction to a long-term Turkish ambition to become an energy hub. But then you have discoveries that change the priorities—for example, Egypt’s Zohr field, which has become a hub—and the rapprochement between Israel and Egypt has helped this whole process along. [The Zohr offshore natural gas field is located about 190km north of Port Said, within Egypt’s EEZ.—Ed.]

In reality, everything about the EastMed Pipeline is still hypothetical.

Yes, it is one thing to have gas, and another to produce it—whether a pipeline or LNG or something else is feasible. In general, what happened was that other countries in the region said: “Wait a second, why should only Turkey become an energy hub and keep making demands?” At the same time, Cyprus is not heard. So they decided to create something instead. Mind you, the EMGF is an open-ended process.

In international relations, we usually look at the correlation between domestic- and foreign-policy dynamics. In recent years in Turkey—especially after the implementation of the presidential system and the failed coup attempt—domestic developments have produced a direct effect on its foreign policy. How do you see this?

What is happening in Turkey is having almost too great an impact on external issues, and I think the government is doing this consciously. The first priority is the domestic situation; after all, president Erdoğan is still a politician who has to think in terms of legitimacy. In this country, you can’t win by 60 or 70%; you lose your legitimacy. Counting every vote is crucial, like everywhere else.

So, you raise the issue of refugees and migrants because you realise your domestic constituency does not want them in the country anymore. You have to show that you are making a big deal, get more funds, and show that the Europeans are listening to you.

It is true that any populist leader has to answer directly to their voter base because power is becoming personified. If things are not going well, one person is to blame, not the entire system.

Yes, and this government has painted itself into a corner. They changed the political system and are now forced to get elected by 50% plus one. To get this number of votes makes everything more complicated. At the height of your popularity, you can get them on your own; then with a coalition; but now even the informal alliance is no longer enough. So other issues have to be brought up.

Yes, there is a rationale behind any leader’s behaviour, and their choices are defined by historical and international conditions and current affairs.

Sure, rationality is there. Decision-makers sit in the capital and assess the world. If something is happening and the global order is broken, you come up with “forward defence” and mix this into the political situation, and then you have a new dimension which translates almost to the lebensraum concept with links to the past. And then borders are not enough. If you add history to this, you relive the War of Independence 100 years ago to lead up to 2023.2 The conditions do not exist for an actual war. So you have to create something. This is the rationale.

This rationale is zero-sum, though; it makes long-term stable cooperation with other countries more difficult.

Exactly. We are still in the de-escalation phase; even though it should have been weeks ago, it has not happened. And I am thinking: why? Let’s take the example of US-Turkish relations. It has been transactional and is now even more so. Turkey is still a key ally in this part of the world, but is buying [Russian] S400s [anti-aircraft weapon systems] and other examples. Transnationalism has been tolerated for a long time.

Doesn’t Greece have S300s on Crete?

Yes, it does, but they came to Greece from Cyprus, whose purchase of them created great tension in the region. A solution was found by basing them in Crete in 1998 as part of a de-escalation deal. The missiles were stored there and have not been tested for some 14 years.

Greece says that Turkey has not been playing by the rules. The liberal multilateral order is not just about membership of NATO and being a candidate for EU accession. In the chapter on fishing rights in the accession documents, which must be negotiated with the European Commission, a candidate country has to recognise UNCLOS principles or it cannot join the EU.3[This refers to the acquis communautaire, the accumulated legislation, legal acts and court decisions that constitute the body of EU law. This is organised into 35 chapters that candidate member states must negotiate.—Ed.] It is also about signing other conventions, including the International Court of Justice and the Paris Agreement on climate change. Now Turkey is talking about backing out of the Istanbul Convention, which addresses violence against women. There are several other things which show that Turkey has not been playing by the rules. Greece has tolerated this because of mechanisms that keep tensions in check, and it has accepted transactional behaviour.

The concept of Finlandisation has recently come up in Greece. Athens does not want to be in the same position [with Turkey] as Finland with was the USSR. It cannot accept that.

From what I gather, those who shape Turkey’s foreign policy feel they have to react quickly in the conditions of a changing world order. Diminishing US influence and weakening of the EU are often the narratives.

Maybe Turkey has reacted faster than other countries in thinking about what its interests are. They might be thinking “What does this mean for me as a medium-sized power, my plan to be an energy hub?” and so on Erdoğan says Turkey is a global player: this is power projection. The same government used to have a different foreign policy. The elites ran it. Now domestic issues are projected in foreign policy, and ideological issues are brought in. A combination of all these factors has been leading to this. It is not only Greek-Turkish relations and violating its maritime borders and airspace with overflights.

Turkey has certainly become more assertive. You said in an article that, without mechanisms like NATO and EU accession talks in place, the Greek-Turkish relationship would mirror Turkey’s relations with some of its other neighbours, such as Iraq and Syria.  

Since Helsinki [the 1999 European Council summit], Greece and the UK have been the most steadfast supporters of Turkish accession to the EU. The official Greek policy is still in favour of Turkey joining. The thinking goes that, if they become more like us, we will understand each other better. If this is blocked, there is less leverage too. Greece must therefore insist that rules of engagement are also put in the package deal proposed by Germany, which includes refugees, a customs union and visa liberalisation, as an alternative to accession.

Estonia also supports Turkey’s accession, so we have a similar position to Greece.

Yes, this would be beneficial to Turkey’s economy, too, since ratings agencies have downgraded it recently and its economy is suffering. If there was a deal, there would also be more confidence towards Turkey; tourism would be better, or maybe Volkswagen would not have postponed a decision on its 1.5-billion-euro investment.

It has been estimated that natural gas will be used for another 40–50 years as a bridge to a transition to cleaner energy. Hydrocarbons are a big issue for Turkey, bearing in mind that they also lost oil-rich Mosul Vilayet to the Mandatory Iraq due to the British interests in 1926. It currently has a considerable budget deficit and is a growing energy consumer with an ambition to become an energy hub. Is Turkey in a hurry? 

This is a burning issue for everyone—Cyprus, Greece …. Most of these countries are energy importers. They have also economic crises and COVID-19 to deal with. The problem with Turkey’s gunboat diplomacy is that it is trying to set precedents by sending [research] ships like the Barbaros Hayreddin Paşa and the Oruç Reis to areas which do not belong to it under international law.

Shouldn’t the issue of energy in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Aegean and Cyprus be separated from each other?

It isn’t easy. Given how Athens has perceived the Turkish threat and its actions, it cannot act alone or let Cyprus act alone. For example, sovereign rights have been violated for years on Cyprus’s continental shelf. Cyprus is a small country, and unable (given partition) to defend itself when Turkey is drilling on its continental shelf.

So, to be heard, Greece and Cyprus are trying to internationalise the issue, to get solidarity, which is starting to come through. We say if you want the EU to continue functioning—and it is a union of mostly small countries—only being united helps us. So, the Greeks and Cypriots are saying that the only way we, as small and medium powers in the EU, can deal with this is through internationalisation. We need values, norms and conventions, international law, UNCLOS and so on.

Internationalisation can have dangerous side effects, though. Already, the US, the UAE, Egypt, France, the EU, and even Russia, have entered the process. Doesn’t this worry you, looking at the proxy wars in Syria, Iraq and Libya? Not all these countries respect international law. Is it possible to keep the situation from snowballing and, if so, what are the factors?

The internationalisation of the differences between Greece and Turkey is the only way forward for Greece, the smaller country in this case. In the Greek-Turkish context, it has two dimensions. The first is to make its partners in the EU and NATO aware of the threats it believes it is facing. The second has to do with coalition-building and strengthening its deterrence, both militarily and diplomatically. This is where Egypt and the UAE come in. The intention is not to start a conflict or to get mired in one, but to even out the diplomatic and military playing field in order to deter the other side from crossing the red line. One of the side effects of internationalisation is that, should de-escalation occur and a dialogue start, the two sides might be pressured into making tough compromises which they cannot do on their own.

The presence in the region of the US, France and Russia—all three of which are permanent members of the UN Security Council—implies how dangerous the stakes have become and that internationalisation cannot be avoided.

When Ankara was blocking NATO’s defence plan for the Baltics and Poland, pressuring the Alliance to recognize Turkey’s action in Syria as a fight against terrorism, it was perceived in our region as Turkey failing its allies. When we needed unity to support Belarus in its struggle for democracy, Greece and Cyprus said they would not sign up unless all EU states recognised their dispute with Turkey. What do you think about this strategy?

Greece behaves like that because others don’t consider its concerns. During EU enlargement, when the Baltic countries joined, Cyprus entered with others because Greece said so, and a deal was done. Other members agreed because, otherwise, Greece would have blocked enlargement. We are small countries, and we deal with our immediate neighbours who are members, and that is why Greece wanted a quid pro quo.

For the countries in your region, Belarus is a priority. It should be discussed more in Greece, because what is happening there is the most beautiful thing in the world: wanting to be free and democratic.

Turkey is doing the same within NATO. In this way, it is also trying to reduce support for Greece inside the EU by making threats among the NATO membership, or using its tools when it comes to Russia.

The problem is that small EU countries try to compartmentalise their foreign policy to their immediate neighbourhood while, for the EU to be effective, they need to have more holistic policies.

Let’s expand on the Russian factor. How is this perceived in Greece? We certainly don’t need factions or divisions in NATO because Russia would gain from this. Has this aspect been discussed from the perspective of conflict between Greece and Turkey?

It has been discussed from that point of view. Greece’s relations with Russia are the worst ever. The problem with Russia is the same for all countries: it is still a member of the UN Security Council Big Five. So one has to be extra careful. Greece is very concerned about Russia and is coming to terms with its hybrid warfare in every respect.

You live in Fener, so talk to the Patriarch4, who is feeling the heat of the Russian state acting through its church. It is trying to influence the Patriarchates in Jerusalem, in Alexandria, and so on. There is awareness of the Russian threat. A couple of years ago, for the first time in history, two Russian diplomats were expelled from Greece, after being found to be doing more there than they were supposed to be.

Why does Greece allow Russian ships to pass through its waters on their way to bases in Syria?

It is keeping the Russians in check, but it is not comfortable with them passing through the Aegean either. Of course, in the public eye, Turkey is a more significant worry, but Russia’s disruptive role is a growing concern in all the debates. But this notion has taken time to develop. Russia is relevant when it comes to Cyprus. The UN Security Council has to review the mandate for UNFICYP [the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus, present since 1964] every six months, so there needs to be a balancing act.

I want to add that, in recent years, because of Turkey’s actions, Greece has turned more to the West. Russia is not as important a political player for Greece as many people believe. America is turning to Greece to update its defence agreements, especially after the failed coup attempt and subsequent developments in Turkey. Washington is not sure how long Turkey can remain a front-line state. This led to the defence agreement earlier this year, ratified by the Greek parliament, which upgraded the US presence in Crete and even the port of Alexandroupolis. Greece has also turned very much to the EU and supports its geopolitical ambitions, which is shifting from being a slow ship towards becoming a hard power.

Can “strongman” leaders like the Turkish president back down? It would show them as weak, and they can’t afford that domestically. And the changing international order legitimises leaders like this.

Yes, how do you get a strongman to back down? He has to show that the other party has stepped back first. Choices for strongmen are limited. They can’t allow healthy debate in society. This is part of the problem; de-escalation would mean that Greece pulls its ships back, and then Erdoğan can say we will, too. But this is not going to happen.

However, we know the press is not necessarily in the best shape here in Turkey. It is possible to set the tone. It is not healthy, but it has leverage, and public discourse can be changed, although a lack of debate about choices is not good. More democratic leaders, by the way, do not have that advantage.

One thing that characterises both Greek and Turkish political culture is that they depict themselves as victims of others. Turkey is a powerful country with huge potential, and I find it curious that its leadership still expresses the feeling that the international community is bullying them. The current government feels it needs to lash out for its own protection, while self-victimising itself in domestic rhetoric.

True. I think this has to do with being on the margins. Both are European flank states; so was the Ottoman Empire, and thus not part of the European system. There is an inferiority complex on both sides. Greece is smaller and less strong, but here in Turkey, one can see that Turks also have the same sense of inferiority.

The debate in Greece is interesting: the issue of whether or not we belong to the West is there, coupled with a notion that Greeks are a nation without brethren, and we are all alone in the world. This narrative is still alive, although in the 1970s the debate about Greece’s place in the West was started by Karamanlis. This was followed by efforts to become a member of the EU.

And what do the Turks say? “There is no better friend to a Turk than another Turk.” It is the same mentality: we are all alone and cannot trust anybody; everyone means us harm and want to dismember us. In that sense, there are a lot of parallels, even though modern Turkey has never lost a war; in the War of Independence, it was victorious against Greeks and the colonial powers.

Turkey currently lacks public debate, but paradoxically, during the first period of the AKP’s rule, social freedoms improved as never before. Today, it looks as if the public narratives have one life and political narratives another.

The AKP has certainly done tremendous things for social justice in Turkey since coming to power. Turkey has never been democratic, but it was democratising. The AKP opened up society. Kemalism brought about a divided society, with segments that did not talk to each other, which worked for the groups in power. Now things have changed, but to challenge the state is difficult. Daring to protest is becoming more and more complicated and this is not healthy for any society.

As for public debate, what worries me is that moderate voices in Turkey are afraid to speak out. Turkey has come to the point where even silence is considered a political view; it means not supporting [the government]. I am not judging those who stay silent, but silence does not contribute to the debate.

Meanwhile, research by Metropoll shows that a majority of Turkish citizens (59.7% of those polled) would prefer a diplomatic solution to the dispute with Greece over the Eastern Mediterranean. By comparison, 31.7% were in favour of a military solution and, not surprisingly, those were mainly AKP and MHP supporters.5

In addition, around 69% of Greeks are inclined to dialogue, and just 28.3% are against it.6 The numbers are comparable to public opinion in Turkey. So let’s see—perhaps Turkey will look at these numbers and back down based on the public preference. And it is crucial to keep these figures stable before the trend is reversed—by de-escalation and starting a dialogue. Theoretically, one place to begin would be exploratory talks as well as reinvigorating various CBMs. Negotiating in good faith means you compromise in good faith.

Everything we are talking about is connected to the international system, and far from being just a bilateral issue. It is connected to the position Washington is taking in its foreign policy.

We have a strategic void. The multilateral order, set up after the end of the Second World War, is changing. The country that has held this order together is the US, which is now casting doubt on its role; as a result, a pivot towards Asia is taking place. The void has grown thanks to how president Trump has been acting.

Turkey interpreted this in its own way and is trying to fill the void in its own interests. The EU is a slow, complicated system, but for France, for example, the incident on the Greek-Turkish border was a wake-up call, which NATO played down. The same applies to the incident between a French frigate and Turkish ships off Libya in June this year. France is the only real military power left in the EU since the UK left, and considers itself a guarantor power in the Mediterranean, along with the US. It is the only country that can be a counterbalance in place of the US. In addition, it wants to sell weapons, and Greece is going to buy them.

The French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle7 is coming to the Mediterranean for the first time, and this sends a strong message. France is saying to Turkey, “We are willing to negotiate, but only in good faith”. Ankara is acting on its own.8

Let’s be more positive. What steps or CBMs might be possible? What about Cyprus proposing Turkish as an official language of the EU?

I think it should; it would have a multiplier effect. It would also have a positive impact on Turkey’s relations with the EU. The reason this comes up is that Cyprus has two official languages, Greek and Turkish, under the constitution. I think this would be good, and the Cypriot government is aware of it. However, in present circumstances it is difficult; they personify Turkey with its leadership and forget about society. In addition, doing this will cost money because, when a country proposes an official language to the EU, it has to pay the costs involved, such as for interpretation. But a way could be found.

Cyprus has other ideas too, such as a joint escrow account that is part of negotiations between the communities. But they will not come out with them now, while Turkey is complaining about equitable shares of eventual energy finds.

Also on a more positive note, Greek-Turkish relations are not at all black and white, despite everything. There are many examples of interaction that are filtered out because of the nature of modern media.

Indeed. I first came to Turkey in 2003 and arrived with a Spanish friend who needed a visa to enter. I, as a Greek national, did not. He was shocked. As we entered, we saw a huge banner at Atatürk airport with the Greek and Turkish flags, because at the time the countries were bidding together for the European Football Championships. It was our joint bid! We did not get it, but we were doing it together. My friend was very surprised and I told him: “Just because we have problems doesn’t mean we don’t talk to each other!” I like to use this example because there is this misconception. We are neighbours, our histories are linked and related, and it does not mean there is no dialogue.

When I told my father I was interviewing a Greek professor who has been teaching in Turkey for years in the sphere of political science and international relations, he was stunned. His reaction was: a Greek working in Turkey and still alive? It is sad that political disputes overwhelm everything. 

Yes, the last 21 years have been a period of rapprochement, although it seems to be coming to an end. In 1999 a paradigm shift to move ahead was decided, and it was tied to the Turkish bid for EU accession. Greece stopped blocking the accession, which led to involvement on all levels of civil society. I would not be in Turkey were it not for the rapprochement process. People like me came and started working at Turkish universities, even teaching in such fields as international relations and foreign policy.

It is lessening over time, but still, Greeks came to work here when there was an economic crisis and found ways to teach their kids Turkish so they would have more opportunities. There has always been academic dialogue, and academics have always wanted to work together—even before, during and after rapprochement. It is continuing: other Greek academics and I are integrated into our teams in the universities, and I invest my time in Greek-Turkish work. I even run a Turkish institution at Kadir Has University: the Centre for International and European Studies. There are research projects, think-tanks and research centres. For example, I started the “Greek-Turkish Young Leaders Symposium”,9 where we talk about how to enhance dialogue. I see interest in elements of both societies.

Most people in the IR community are moderate, and they want to reach out to each other. I am concerned that these connections might get broken because even moderate intellectuals end up adopting nationalist positions. Dialogue is needed now more than ever.

People often ask me if I have roots in this part of the world. Many Greeks have because they were displaced with the population exchange and so on. I don’t, but I understand and value the connection. I am here out of curiosity.

Are they surprised that you prefer to analyse things? Would most people prefer the simple “terrible Turk” narrative?

“Turkey is aggressive” is a repeated narrative. As a Greek citizen, I can understand this up to a point, but let’s not stop there—let’s keep analysing! When you talk about Erdoğan and his new Ottoman dream, I say, aren’t we being short-sighted? When we only say “aggressive” and “New Ottoman”, we have created a problematic dead end and I don’t think this narrative is useful for my country; we should be able to do more. From a purely Greek citizen’s perspective, Turkey might be revisionist, but let’s explain this, try to understand in what sense it is and in what sense it is not. Understanding allows us to take better steps, make better judgements, and act better. I love my country and I want it to be better and without tensions; it would be easier to solve our problems, too.


1 See

2 29 October 2023 will mark the centenary of the declaration of the Republic of Turkey.

3 This refers to the acquis communautaire, the accumulated legislation, legal acts and court decisions that constitute the body of EU law. This is organised into 35 chapters that candidate member states must negotiate.

4 The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is located in the Fener quarter of Istanbul.

5 “Turkey’s Pulse – August 2020”.

6 (in Greek).