Luckily the French are defending Greece. We?

(To Tiziano Ciocchetti)
15/09/22

While Turkey is stepping up its tone towards the Greeks, breaking the dialogue with the Athens government, Paris renews its support for Greece. In fact, the two countries have been linked, since 2021, by a strategic cooperation agreement containing a mutual defense clause. 

President Macron recalled this during the official visit to Paris, last September 12, of the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis who responded to the provocations of Ankara by saying that "We are ready to face all those who threaten us to land on our islands, on our territory", adding that "We are always open to discussion and dialogue".

Turkey continues to have threatening attitudes towards the Greeks (especially after the exploration of natural gas in the Eastern Mediterranean has resumed).

Greeks and Turks already fought each other in the 1974 war, following that conflict a part of the island of Cyprus was occupied by Ankara, leading to the creation of the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. recognized only by Turkey.

Following the Greek-Turkish war between two member countries of the Atlantic Alliance, the then secretary general of NATO, the Dutch Joseph Marie Antoine Hubert Luns, developed the so-called "Luns Doctrine", which asserted that the Alliance could not intervene in any way in disputes between member countries. This doctrine is still in use today.

It is therefore not surprising that the current secretary, Jens Stoltenberg, does not want to take sides, also given the importance of Turkey, which controls the Dardanelles Strait, gateway to the Black Sea. “We urge Greece and Turkey to resolve their differences in the Aegean in a spirit of trust and solidarity between allies. [...] It means moderation and refraining from any action or rhetoric that could lead to an escalation of the situation "he said last June.

As for the European Union, of which Greece is a member, it expressed its "serious concerns" after the latest statements by Erdoğan, in which he recalled the episode of Izmir / Smyrna, during the Greek-Turkish war of 1919/22 .

The episode recalled by the Turkish president refers to the military control of the Greek forces of the city of Smyrna and the surrounding areas from May 15, 1919 to September 9, 1922. The allied powers authorized the occupation and the creation of the Izmir area during the negotiations regarding the partition of the Ottoman Empire to protect the ethnic Greek population living in and around the city. The Greek landing on May 15, 1919 was celebrated by the sizeable local Greek population, but quickly led to ethnic violence in the area.

The Greek occupation of Smyrna ended on 9 September 1922 with the Turkish conquest by the troops commanded by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, father of modern Turkey.

"We expect Turkey to refrain from verbal escalation and commit to promoting good neighborly relations", said Peter Stano, spokesman for the high representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the EU, Josep Borrell, on 5 September.

Obviously, no one would expect EU intervention if the situation worsened. However, Athens could invoke Article 42-7 of the Treaty on European Union, which states that "in the event that a Member State is subject to armed aggression on its territory, the other Member States must help and assist it by any means in their power, in accordance with Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations".

There is no doubt that Greece can only hope for the support of Paris. Macron has indeed stated that “Almost a year ago we signed a strategic partnership between our two countries in terms of defense and security here at the Elysée. And this agreement was based on our perfect community of opinions and values, on our common attachment to the principles of freedom, democracy, respect for human rights and international law, including the law of the sea ".

Also adding that "even though there have been repeated unacceptable provocations and utterances that call into question the sovereignty of Greece, I would like to reiterate our full support with clarity and firmness. This strategic partnership (with Greece, NdA) has come a long way and will go a long way and therefore we will not allow any disorder to occur, especially in the Eastern Mediterranean ".

With the gas crisis, the Eastern Mediterranean is becoming even more strategic. Turkey is trying to extend its hegemony in this region by increasingly isolating the island of Cyprus, so that it falls totally within its sphere of influence.

There are large natural gas fields at stake, and we hope that the next Italian executive will realize the stakes and take suitable measures that allow ENI to operate freely in the region.. If this is not the case (as we believe), we are left with only the assistance of France, the only one able to protect our interests… but at what price?

Photo: Ministère des Armées

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