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A Game of Fools

How the Crisis of the Eastern Aegean is Indicative of Turkey's Problematic Development in the Region

By Anthony Tsantes

August 2020 cartoon by Hassan Bleibel.

Over the past month an extremely dangerous game has been unfolding across the eastern Mediterranean. One that pits old foes to face off once more in the name of natural resources, sovereignty and regional supremacy.

The crisis of the east Aegean started around the 8th of July 2020 when the Turkish research vessel Orcu Reis, accompanied by Turkish military vessels, entered the Greek continental shelf in the east Aegean. Conducting special scans in search for natural gas pockets in Greek waters. This in turn sparked a fierce response by the Greek navy which deployed a number of battleships and frigates in opposition to the Orcu Reis and its accompanying ships. The Greek navy has positioned itself on the Greek continental shelf border, while the Orcu Reis has been zig zaggin' in out of international waters and the Greek continental shelf. Frigates from both nations have been facing off in dangerous war games, charging towards one an another in hopes of deterring any aggression. This situation has been incredibly volatile for the region as a whole. In order to understand how these two neighboring powers have come once again to the brink of war over the sovereignty and the economic assets of the east Aegean, we need to understand a brief past on these unfortunately not so rare border clashes. The crisis is by no means a one off incident. Unfortunately the incident which took place on the 8th of July has been a continuation of a Turkish policy stretching back to the 1980's.

The two neighbors have had a legacy of border disputes across the entire East Aegean region. These disputes usually take the form of disputing sovereign air space, National waters and the regions rich continental shelf. As onlookers we ought to look at the legacy of these challenges faced in the region, to understand what makes this territory so volatile for the two neighboring powers.

Legacy of Territorial Challenges

In order to understand the source of this particular crisis we need to understand the idea of sovereignty across the eastern Aegean. The eastern Aegean offers particular challenges in terms of border sovereignty. This has primarily to do with the topography of the region. The region itself is populated by a vast array of mostly Greek islands which often can be found particularly close to the Turkish mainland such as the Island of Samos which is located only 1.6Km from the Turkish mainland. This unorthodox set of borders amongst sparsely spaced Greek island and the Turkish mainland has brought unique challenges to each respective state. Across the region itself there are also a vast array of islets, solitary uninhabitable rocks. This has produced a challenge on claiming sovereignty to this islets. While according to International law in the Treaty of Lausanne of 1927 the Islands of the Eastern Aegean would be granted to the Greek state, with the exception of the a selected few which would be retained by the Italian State. The Turkish state and it's vast state propaganda instruments coined a term known as the 'Grey Zones' regarding the Eastern Aegean. This novel theory first took hold in Turkish politics in the 1990s. It describes how the Treaty of Lausanne 1927 and the Paris Peace talks of 1947 have not been clear regarding the sum territories in the region, leaving them effectively up for grabs by the Turkish state. This Turkish narrative of undermining established international law and treaties has been a repeating tactic which has come back into the limelight regarding the crisis of 2020. This political aggression however went further

beyond simple saber rattling in the mid 1990's. During January and February 1996 a crisis regarding the Greek Islet of Imia/Kardek quickly escalated from a tense naval stand off into the islet being occupied by Turkish special forces. Furthermore it included a Greek helicopter crashing into the Island killing all three Greek military personal onboard. The official narrative by both states is that the Helicopter had an accident and crashed. The crisis itself was resolved through a heavy handed American political influence which acted as an intermediary between the two powers. The crisis itself would however claim more live 7 months after the crisis were an engagement of military jets would take place over Greek airspace claiming the live of a Turkish pilot. The crisis of 1996 Imia/Kardek has been to this day perhaps the closest case of a hot conflict emerging between the two neighbors. It isn't however the only example of border aggression between the two powers. Turkey has continued to challenge Greek sovereignty in Sea and Air since the 1990's. A continued campaign of Greek aerial space intrusion has been taking place by the Turkish air force. In 2019 alone there were 4,262 incidents of Turkish war planes violating Greek airspace. While on sea there have also been countless incidents of Turkish submarines violating Greek territorial waters such as the recent case in August when a Turkish submarine crept up to the Island of Evia near Athens. The point these violations should highlight is that Turkey has had a committed continuous expansionist policy in the east Aegean since the 1990's at least. Turkish disregard of international law regarding Greek territorial waters and the continental shelf is in no way a unique incident, it has been part of a concentrated effort by the Turkish state to undermine the Treaty of Lausanne, to challenge Greek sovereignty in the region and to expand Turkish territorial ambitions in the Aegean.

Turkish Propaganda

Highlighting the legacy of Greco-Turkish border disputes in the east Aegean, a common tactic keeps appearing. That being the consistent Turkish propaganda machine, which aims at de legitimizing international law and treaties, re-writing history and attempting to justify Turkish expansion in the region.

Since the failed Turkish coup attempt of 2015, Erdogan has undergone a massive wave of purges across the Turkish state. This has coincided with a massive ramp up on the already vast Turkish propaganda machine. A lot of attention has been drawn recently to it's effects. It is however a lot more dangerous than we care to admit, the extent goes beyond the 'Turkish nationalist' writing vitriol on online message boards, it unfortunately holds sway amongst Turkish political officials as well. Turkish political officials perpetuate this imperialistic propaganda extensively, such as the case of AKP MP Metin Külünk who posted a tweet online5projecting a map of 'greater' Turkey which included large swathes of the Easter Aegean, Eastern Macedonia and even Thessaloniki. These irredentist maps are unfortunately a common tactic by the Turkish propaganda machine, they have even been projected in official meetings by Erdogan himself. In September of 2020 during Erdogan's visit of the of the National Defense University in Istanbul he projected a map called Turkey's 'blue homeland' depicting the territorial waters all the way up to the Cyclades as Turkish. Other cases include the worrying political theater of Erdogan who attempts to present himself as the new 'Sultan'. Political onlookers have coined the term Neo-Ottomanism for the direction Erdogan wants to push the Turkish state towards. While the combination of a deeply conservative and religious vision of Erdogan's Neo- Ottomanism might not mingle harmoniously with the western orientated secular Turkey the lionized Attaturk came to define it as. This combination might appear precarious to onlookers, Erdogan however has managed to redefine the Turkish path for the future, adopting the conservative religious elements of the Ottoman past and combining them with a distinctly Erdoganesque Turkish nationalism which selectively adopts on the aspects of Ataturk's vision for Turkey.

The point we need to understand about the Turkish propaganda machine is that it is undoubtedly effective, it has managed to keep president Erdogan in power regardless of the slew of political scandals and economic upheaval. This propaganda machine is an integral part to Erdogan's policy at home and abroad, it justifies the expansionist attitude of Erdogan. Promoting Turkish military intervention into Syria and Libya. It has unabashedly attacked the Kurdish population and their political affiliates. The most clear case has been the crusade the Turkish state has gone through to portray the PKK as a terrorist organization onto a world stage. The state of the Turkish propaganda machine is deep and vast, it comes to include major elements of Turkish media, especially post 2015. It holds major sway with the massive TRT network which worryingly also has a massive international presence. The complexity and volume of propaganda and their sources is vast, it is an issue which major academic research should be poured on to, to understand it's sources and it's effects. It's important therefore to understand how truly difficult it is to 'combat' a Turkish narrative when it comes to the crisis of 2020. The Turkish state has a sophisticated propaganda machine which aims to re-write any international narrative in it's favor. As global onlookers this should very much worry the majority of states, the effectiveness of a propaganda machine goes beyond any military or economic influence a country can swathe , a sophisticated international propaganda machine is a threat to all.

International Appeasement

Understanding the ever expanding influence of Turkey in the region, it's also important to consider the external political factors which tolerated and allowed Turkey to take it's active regional role. The underlining issues of Turkish aggression in the region can be understood as a product of the precarious position international institutions find themselves in regards to the Turkish presence. The EU and the US have had a murky response to Turkish aggression in the region. While the US has had two opposing approaches towards the Turkish state based on the two administrations. It's important to understand the US's failing in the region in recent memory in order to see how Turkey achieved it's regional role. The Trump administration while at the early stages of its involvement in the Syrian conflict openly criticized Turkish aggression in the region, calling the regional power a destabilizing force. Additionally to that Trump notably even warned against Erdogan's aggression that if he did not cease his belligerence he would “Destroy the Turkish economy”. Trump saber-rattling did not sway Turkish aggression but rather inflamed the situation, with Erdogan famously sending a personal letter to Trump warning him to stay out of the region. As most things prevalent in the Trump administration there didn't seem to be a long term planning of the foreign policy regarding the region. Trump seemed to instantly go against his initial opposition to Turkish aggression.

In October of 2019 the Trump administration disengaged all its military personal from the Northern Syria Region, abandoning its positions and quite publicly abandoning their alliance to the Kurdish forces in the region. The move itself was internationally and internally criticized for short-sightedness and most of all for the immorality of betraying the Turkish freedom fighters once more, a sentiment unfortunately all too common for the Kurdish forces. The move itself effectively allowed for Turkey to take a much more aggressive role in the region. Attacking Kurdish positions in Norther Syrian, even threatening to overrun Kurdish prisons holding ISIL fighters. After the American retreat Turkey achieved a much more powerful position in northern Syria. This 'Turkish' victory perhaps bolstered Erdogan's resolve in the region and his ambitions to openly disregard what for so long time was meant to be an American deterrent in the region. The US-Turkey relationship took two further dramatic steps. In January of 2020 Turkey under the pretense of military aid, invaded Libya and assisted militias loyal to the Government of National Accord. This intervention unfortunately for the region continues to this day, looking like a military occupation as the days go on. While the expectation by onlookers was for the international community and especially for the US to vocally and publicly oppose these belligerent actions taken by Turkey who in clear disregard to Libyan sovereignty effectively invaded the country. However no note worthy unified opposition took place, in fact the US under the Trump administration not only tolerated the developments but rather encouraged Turkish aggression into Libya. Trump himself reportedly shared a friendly phone call with Erdogan in response to the developments10. The Trump administration once more failed to achieve it's regional prerogative, it not only failed to deter an act of aggression by Turkey, but this time it was clear that the US even sided with the Turkish aggression.

It is fundamentally important to understand the development and evolution of the US-Turkey relations since the Trump administration came into power. It signified a clear shift in American foreign policy in the region. The Trump administration sought to significantly decrease it's military presence abroad, which in most cases should be a development that should be celebrated. However like most American blunders in foreign policy the Trump administration failed to foresee the future developments of such a move in the region. The US effectively stepped down from it's role as the regional hegemony in Syria and effectively in the Eastern Mediterranean. This opened up an potential political space for the Turkish state to take over. Erdogan and his regional ambitions were not curtailed by the US at any point. This foreign policy failure by the US has arguably played a major role in the evolution of Turkey's aggressive foreign policy in the region. While the US's effective appeasement of Turkish regional aggression is a particularly problematic footnote in Turkey's foreign development, it's also important to consider the failings of the EU in the region. While the EU naturally does not sway the same influence in the region due to its decentralized military efforts, it still plays an important political role that if needed could apply pressure. However the EU has also had trouble developing a particularly effective and vocal opposition to Turkey's regional aggression. One particular reason for this trouble is the EU's immigration agreement with Turkey in 2016 . The agreement came during the major wave of immigration from Syrian immigrants towards the EU through Greece and the Aegean. Thousands of immigrants tragically were losing their lives due to irregular crossing between the Turkish mainland and the Greek islands. The EU-Turkey deal was meant to curb the illegal crossings across the Aegean. The deal stipulated that every Syrian immigrant crossing from Turkey onto the European mainland illegally would be detained and returned to Turkey to be hosted. In exchange to that the EU would officially allow a Syrian immigrant living within the Turkish mainland to legally move to the EU. However the deal wasn't just that stipulation, a number of political actions were taken by the EU in good faith to curry up favor with the Turkish state, these actions included; modernizing and reforming the EU-Turkey customs union, exemptions from the Schengen agreement for Turkish nationals, and an apparent acceleration for Turkey's talk to join the EU. These reform were largely seen as symbolic while the crux of the deal however was the major monetary assistance the EU promised for the Turkish state to be designated for infrastructure aimed at the Syrian Immigrants. 6 billion euros were funneled to the Turkish state in order to aid with the hosting of such a large population of immigrants. While the deal itself was announced to be a success since it decreased the flow of immigration into the EU through the Aegean by 97%, it was also heavily criticized by onlookers. The funds, according to critics in Ankara, took too long to materialize and mostly missed their marks in terms of reaching the immigrants themselves.

This agreement itself in the past few years has been a particularly thorny issue for the EU. The EU envisioned Turkey as a trustworthy regional partner to help with the issue of immigration however Turkey has disappointed on this front. Although Turkey's assistance with the immigration crisis and its hosting of 3.5 million immigrants has been extremely amiable to international onlookers. The reality however is presented a bit more dubiously. While Turkey has hosted so many immigrants, it has also used them as political capital against Europe. Furthermore they've even used them as a form of aggression against Greece and the European border. The clashes in Kastanes Western Thrace in 2019 showed Turkish government buses loading thousands of displaced Syrian immigrants onto said buses on a one way trip to the Greco-Turkish border in Western Thrace. The incident was overseen by Turkish military personal which saw them organizing and reportedly even arming immigrants in order to attack the border positions. While the plight of the Syrian immigrant is something that goes beyond the morality of any international agreement, Turkey nonetheless holds a responsibility to uphold said agreements. The Turkish government and military in effect hijacked the plight of the immigrants and politicized it for their own benefit by applying pressure towards Europe for a betterment to the immigration deal. The incident itself was another Turkish aggression against Greek border positions but beyond that it was an incident of aggression against European immigration policy. Erdogan during the incident reportedly called for Europe's apathy toward the plight of the Syrians and sought to apply pressure to Europe for a better international agreement for Turkey.

Europe's reliance on Turkey as an apparent reliable partner to act as a buffer state for the wave of immigration has left Europe in a precarious state. Certain voices in the EU seem too overly lenient on Turkey's transgression perhaps due to their reliance on the agreement. The EU has also had a notable problem finding stable footing for its approach to international incidents. The issue of Turkish aggression in the region has left the European political body split in terms of how to deal with the Turkish threat. Notably, Germany has appeared as a voice in the EU promoting talks between the two nations and even a possibility of going over a border agreement. Furthermore Germany declined to object to Turkish aggression in the region and is very hesitant at the possibility of applying economic sanctions to the nation. Additionally to that Germany did not partake in the Mediterranean joint military exercises taken by Greece and notably including France, Italy, Austria and even Egypt. Their commission was perceived by critics as a hesitation towards taking any aggressive steps against the state of Turkey. Vocal critics have blamed Germany for apparently appeasing Turkish regional expansion and setting a dangerous precedent of permitting such acts of aggression.

Notably on the other hand, there are also elements in Europe which have come out as vocal opponents of Turkish ambitions in the region. The most notable country would probably be France. French President Emmanuel Macron has taken a number of steps to deter Turkish aggression and to minimize the chance of a conflict spilling out between the two NATO members. France naturally has been more invested in the stability of the region since it's been involved in the 'Union for the Mediterranean' as far back as 1995 which contemporary is better known as MED7 or the 'Med Group'. The Union is meant to act as a financial and trade union between the nations bordering the Mediterranean, encouraging 'free trade' and economic and political stability for the region as a whole. The Union itself is a subset of the European Union so it's understandable that it doesn't necessarily represent the interests of the region as a whole, especially of the Eastern Mediterranean. The Union itself is relevant to understand how it is of interest to only certain European nations to hold a strong presence in the Mediterranean. France as a de facto head of the Union has taken an active role in the Greco-Turkish crisis. Committing its warships in a joint Greek French naval exercise of the eastern coast of Crete as a clear indication of deterrence towards Turkey. Additionally to that France has sold Greece a number of French made war planes in an actions aimed at reinforcing the Greek air force. French President Macron has sent stern messages to Erdogan concerning the situation, even so far as calling Turkey “no longer a reliable partner in the region”. Macron has been reportedly trying to curry up support by other EU nation states to apply pressure to Turkey through economic sanction. While France seems to be the only relevant European power to be leading the charge against Turkish aggression, the question remains is; who will follow?

The French and German divide has split Europe regarding its foreign policy towards Turkey. This lack of unity from the European front has played right into the hands of Turkish ambitions for the region. Turkey seems to be acting belligerently towards an EU nation state, disregarding international law and principles of national sovereignty, while the EU has trouble facing the issue united. Turkish regional ambition have undoubtedly been influenced by the reality of the international politics in the region. The Trump administration's apathy and even passive support of the Turkish state has bolstered them to take even further steps. The EU on the other hand has failed to present a deterrent effective enough to curb Turkish aggression. In total these effectively failed policies by the international community have done nothing more than appease Turkish aggression, making the possibility of a stable eastern Mediterranean look all the more distant.

The Turkish Economy

Turkish aggression into the eastern Aegean isn't solely to achieve Erdogan's expansionist ambitions. It also has deeply to do with the ticking time bomb of the Turkish economy. The Turkish economy for the past decade has had a slow decline with periods of major economic instability sprinkled through. The Lira has suffered major inflation over the past decade, the fiscal year 2020 saw the Lira inflate by a staggering 12%. Furthermore the Lira has had its value fallen to about 6.58 compared to the US dollar. These grim development to Turkey's national currency have not been a new phenomenon, the problems of the Lira goes back at least a decade. Turkey's economy has been struggling to overcome the gradual inflation suffered by the Lira. The national bank of Turkey reportedly spent 65 billion US dollars to prop up and support the currency. The devaluing Lira also gives a glimpse into another particularly problematic aspect of the Turkish economy. That being of national and consumer debt. Turkey has one of the highest consumer debt figures in the region, reaching at about 100 billion dollars. This figure itself has increased by 25% during the fiscal year of 2020.

These structural issues of the Turkish economy have been worsened by the Covid pandemic and the dramatic decrease of tourism during this holiday season. Reportedly the Turkish economy will shrink at around 11% this year due to the Covid lock-down. While these issues are in no way a unique problem faced by Turkey, in fact these problematic figures are also shared by Greece which suffered a similar decrease to its national GDP by 10% this year. The Turkish economy has been suffering from its worst economic recession since 2018 and the latest development of the Covid economic lock down. With an unkempt government spending in order to prop up the value of the currency, this has very likely ensured the Turkish economy will suffer greatly in the coming years. Additionally the Turkish economy suffers from a particularly destabilizing economic problem, that being youth unemployment. Turkey has a youth unemployment rate of 26%. While the national unemployment rate has kept at around 13%, critics however have pointed out that these figures may not be entirely accurate in painting the picture of the state of the Turkish economy.

The ruling AKP party passed a piece of legislation banning laying off employees during the Covid 19 lock-down. The issue of unemployment and especially of youth unemployment is always destabilizing for any state and reflects the partial growing discontent with Erdogan and the AKP. Additionally Turkey unfortunately has a great deal of 'brain drain' with many young Turkish men and women emigrating abroad for better employment opportunities. These problems are further multiplied by the major immigration wave of Syrian immigrants, around 3.5 million Syrians lived within the Turkish state, many of these immigrants find it particularly difficult to find employment within the Turkish economy. This collection of worsening economic problems has led to Erdogan and the leading AKP party losing a large portion of support, highlighted by the results of the 2018 election in which the AKP won the general election but lost in the two largest metropolitan cities of Istanbul and Ankara. The loss itself is particularly important because of the symbolic loss of Istanbul by Erdogan who famously has been the mayor of the city since 1994. The AKP also reportedly faced a massive defection of voter members in 2018 when 840,000 left the AKP. More recently the AKP has lost around 4% of supporters according to local polls while more significantly according to the local polls around 52% of voters would be opposed from voting for Erdogan in the upcoming election. Without a doubt these results must have Erdogan and the leading AKP party concerned regarding the upcoming election of 2023.

These ticking economic issues combined with the slowly declining support for President Erdogan has led to a major intensification of Turkish foreign projects. One of these being the construction of a fleet of special research scanning ships aimed at finding pockets of natural gas in Turkey's surrounding waters. The Orcu Reis has been one of three of said ships. A point of information to take into account during the crisis of 2020 in the eastern Aegean, the sister ship of the Orcu Reis know as 'The Faith' found a major pocket of natural gas on Turkey's northern border on the black sea. Perhaps this success embolden Erdogans ambitions for the region. Turkey's ailing economy has perhaps encouraged the state to redefine it's economy in the region and in the field of energy. Without a doubt the potential findings of natural gas and energy sources could provide to be a potentially very lucrative opportunity for Turkey. Understanding the underlining factors of the weak economy can help us better understand the direction Erdogan wishes Turkey to take. While the crisis in the eastern Aegean is just another footnote in the long difficult history of border clashes between the two neighbors, it's also a potentially big step for Turkey and it's economy. It can be argued that the crisis itself is taking place also due to Turkey's economic ambitions.


The crisis of the eastern Aegean in 2020 has been a frighteningly stark reminder of the true instability of the region. While the conflict itself can be understood through a variety of school of thoughts it's important to contextualize where the crisis stands. Turkey and Greece unfortunately have had a turbulent history regarding the Mediterranean and their border relations in general. Border clashes between the two nations are almost common place, with such notable similar clashes taking place in 1998 where the clash very nearly cost the two nations a war. Furthermore as recently as March of 2020 the two nations faced off in another border clash concerning the movement of Syrian immigrants. The commonality of border clashes highlights one of the most troubling issues brought on by the Turkish state in the past decade, that being of irredentist propaganda. Since the late 1990's the Turkish state has been producing propaganda that undermines the international agreement of Lausanne between the two nations which determined the ownership of the isles in the Eastern Aegean. Additionally they have produced two noteworthy efforts of propaganda justifying their belligerence in the region. The notion of the 'Grey Zones' concerning the ownership of islets in the eastern Aegean resulted in the crisis of Imia/Kardek of 1998. While more recently Turkey has produced the propaganda piece of the 'Blue Homeland' which takes aim at the territorial waters and the continental shelf of the practically the entire Aegean. These two propaganda pieces have undoubtedly influenced the political ambitions of the nation in the region and have justified the two crisis of 1998 and 2020 which have brought the countries so frighteningly near a blown out war. Turkish propaganda has been consistent and deliberate at undermining Greek sovereignty, International law and justifying Turkish irredentist claims. Unfortunately the crisis of 2020 is an uncomfortable reminder how influential and extensive this propaganda is.

While the crisis itself has been an issue concerning the two nations it also plays an important role on the international context of the region. Turkish aggression has not only been aimed at Greek sovereignty but its effectively against European borders. The fact that both nations are NATO members has made the crisis all the more complicated for theses international bodies. Notably this issue of indecisiveness by onlookers has been a problematic reality with US foreign policy. The US which for the past two decades has at least attempted to act as a deterrent in the region through it's military presence in the middle east and its major military bases in Turkey has failed to effectively oppose Turkish aggression in the region as a whole. While the crisis in the Eastern Aegean is a continuation of a legacy of border disputes between the two powers, it's also a continuation of a more recent and worrying reality of Turkish foreign interventionism. Turkey since 2016 has been involved in the Syria civil war, fighting Kurdish and Syrian positions. A reality which has greatly destabilized the Syrian theater of war. Furthermore Turkey more recently intervened in the Libyan Civil War with little to no noteworthy international opposition. The violation of the Greek territorial continental shelf and its waters comes as no surprise regarding Turkish recent regional aggression and its disregard of national sovereignty.

The US has offered practically no opposition to these developments, in fact the Trump administration has rather controversially been very friendly with Erdogan and even supported his aggression into Libya. The EU on the other hand has had a more vocal opposition to Turkey's ambitions, especially concerning the fact that Turkey border disputes are not solely with Greece but effectively with the European Union. The EU however has faced problems shoring up a significant opposition that would deter Turkey. Perhaps the EU is fearful of losing the EU-Turkey immigration agreement and does not want to agitate the Turkish state. While some powers in Europe want to approach Turkey with more leniency in order to achieve a regional partner that can aid with the immigration crisis, other powers have been more strict. France as the de facto head of the MED 7 has lead the charge against Turkish aggression in the region, with a visible military presence. Unfortunately for some onlookers the sentiment of France is not shared with many other European powers. The response of the EU to the crisis of 2020 has been noteworthy but perhaps not effective enough. Europe's inability to unite and present a clear strict opposition to Turkey's aggression has partially emboldened Turkey in its actions, knowing full well that not all European nations are prepared to back their Mediterranean neighbor. The reality of the international community is that it has failed in its prerogative of deterring aggression in the region.

The EU and the US have quite clearly failed in their efforts of promoting regional stability and have failed to deter Turkish aggression, while even more importantly the US has been a particularly problematic thorn in the crisis for its clear appeasement to Turkey and Erdogan concerning the string of Turkish aggressions. The international community ought to play a major role in regional conflicts, acting as arbiters and deliberators while deterring escalations and aggressions. Unfortunately in the current incident this has not taken place, resulting in what may have been a swift political deliberation becoming a month long dispute risking the escalation of a war. It's fundamentally important to understand how we got into this situation and how we ought to prevent such crisis from escalating further. The stability of the Eastern Aegean is of international importance and it's indicative of the reliability of the the nations bordering it. Turkey has unfortunately proven all too frequently it's belligerence towards its neighboring states and its disregard of international law. It's clear that Turkey failing internal economy and its ruling parties weighing support base has pushed the nation to take even more bold and aggressive steps in the region. While the extensive propaganda machine that has been in effect for the past decades has justified such aggressive steps to be taken. Additionally to that storm of underling problems , the contemporary state of the international community has failed to pacify the situation and deter Turkish aggression. Erdogan and the Turkish state has taken another page from the book of despots, solving internal issues with foreign aggression. It has irresponsibly promoted irredentist ideals and partaken in imperialistic policies against its neighbors. It's becoming painfully clear to onlookers that the possibility of a reliable turkey and stable region is becoming all the less likely. Erdogan's aggressive politics have been on show for the past years, and are clearly demonstrated with the array of Turkish regional aggressions in the region. The crisis of the Eastern Aegean in 2020 has highlighted that a reliable Turkey and a stable Mediterranean is not possible with Erdogan in office. These problems should be understood and hopefully taken into account concerning the distant Turkish election of 2023.

Sources germany-back-turkish-ally/ homeland-map 9 statement-action-plan turkey-migration-deal ministry-idUSKBN25M0UF gas gas covid-19-impact-deepens-iobe-idUSKBN24A1MN 29 coronavirus-economic-woes

Yavuz M. Hakan, “Nostalgia for the Empire: The Politics of Neo Ottomanism”, Oxford University Press, 2016, Oxford U.K

Yücel Acer (2003), The Aegean Maritime Disputes and International Law (Aldershot: Ashgate)


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