Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos detailed Turkey’s role as an agent of instability in the Eastern Mediterranean at a Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) online conference today on EastMed security challenges.
The conference was held ahead of a 14 June Nato summit and Panagiotopoulos outlined Athens’ views on the review of the Alliance’s updated concept that is to be discusses in Brussels as well as on the means to bolster the Alliance’s cohesion and on the ongoing deepening of US-Greece strategic defence partnership.
Turkey’s incursion last summer in the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) of Greece and Cyprus brought Athens and Ankara to the brink of a military clash as many analysts have suggested.
The illegal delimitation of the Turkish and Libyan EEZs and Turkey’s military involvement in Libya has drawn the consternation of both the EU and the US as well as regional players.
Panagiotopoulos outlined the causes of growing instability in the region and Greece’s initiatives to advance security and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean, working closely with regional partners.
He underlined that Turkish revisionism, which entails territorial claims encroaches on the sovereignty of neighbouring and regional countries, naturally including Greece and Cyprus.
“What is new in the region is that we see a string of regional and international players acting with a fresh decisiveness. At times they exhibit revisionist behaviour in a bid to overturn the balance of power, re-write legal agreements, or annul the sovereign rights of certain coastal states,” he said.
“This is an alarming development that certainly constitutes a factor of instability,” the minister underlined. “For our part, we believe that all these developments have a common denominator – the expansionist and revisionist neo-Ottoman ambitions of Turkey that have led it to adopt an aggressive strategic stance”.
Panagiotopoulos stressed that Ankrara’s stance and bellicose actions have broader repercussions for the regional security environment. He attributed these behaviours to Turkey’s view of itself as a regional superpower that can exert force and prevail over neighbouring countries and other geopolitical forces that are active in the region.
“This aggressive strategic stance entails a series of direct military threats and certain hostile and bellicose statements and has drawn the attention of the entire region. This is no longer a Greek-Turkish bilateral difference. It is behaviour that affects everyone in the region and consequently creates an unstable security environment.”