By George Gilson

The Turkish pro-government Sabah daily’s columnist Melih Altinok is not very happy that Kyriakos Mitsotakis is the prime minister of Greece.

In a vitriolic attack against both Mitsotakis and the West, entitled “Mitsotakis: A wannabe Zelenskyy”, the columnist blames the Greek PM for the rapid deterioration in Greek-Turkish relations, claiming that it is Greece and not Turkey that is responsible for the escalation of tensions in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean, though both the EU and the US have repeatedly criticised Turkey for its provocations against Greece and its sovereign rights in both regions.

Ironically, the article is entirely self-contradictory as it offers quotes of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that amount to a clear threat of a declaration of war against Greece.

«Look at the history. If you go too far, it will cost you dearly. We have one sentence for Greece: Do not forget Izmir. We do not care that you invaded the islands or elsewhere. When the time comes, we will do what is necessary. One night we can suddenly come,» the article quoted Erdogan as saying in recent statements that caused a fuss in the Greek media, which is clearly a key objective of Turkey’s president.

The US State Department recently reiterated that there is no question of Greece’s sovereignty over its Aegean islands.

Erdogan’s attack evoked, as always a very calm and measured response from Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias.

«In this extremely critical period, we will inform our allies and partners about the content of the provocative statements of the Turkish authorities in the recent days, in order to make it clear who is sabotaging the unity of the alliance. Greece will not follow Turkey in this crazy statement and threat that crosses over the line,” he said.

Turkey, irked by talk of its provocations, the only NATO member that has imposed no sanctions against Russia

It is precisely Greece’s incessant campaign to inform the international community and its allies – the EU, NATO, the UN, and the US – of Turkey’s repeated threats of war that is the basis of the columnist’s preposterous comparison of the Greek and Ukrainian leaders.

Athens also repeatedly underlines that Turkey is the only NATO member-state that has taken absolutely no sanctions against Russia after its invasion of Ukraine.

Ankara would prefer that Greece keep quiet about Turkey’s daily violations of Greek national sovereignty and the vitriolic attacks of Erdogan and top Turkish officials against the Greek PM  and the country’s foreign policy, and it expresses intense consternation over Athens’ policy of internationalising Turkish provocations.

While the columnist would like to depict Greece as the troublemaker in the Aegean, the data offered yesterday by Dendias at a joint Athens news conference with his French counterpart, Catherine Colonna, are incontrovertible.

Dendias stressed that this year there has been a record number of 6,100 Turkish violations of Greek airspace, 157 flights of war planes over Greek islands, and 1,000 violations of Greek territorial waters.

The column essentially bypasses the crisis in August, 2020, when Greece and Turkey came to the brink of a naval clash due to Turkey’s blatant provocations, the illegal movements of the Turkish gas and oil exploration vessel “Oruc Reis” accompanied by warships in the Eastern Mediterranean. within the maritime jurisdictions (EEZs) of Greece and Cyprus.

The protracted standoff between Greek and Turkish warships was defused with the intercession of Germany, which at the time held the rotating EU presidency, and international organisations.

Mitsotakis’ address to US Congress still stings Ankara

While Ankara and Sabah’s columnist bemoan Mitsotakis’ call, before a Joint Session of the US Congress in May, 2020, for legislators to carefully consider the dangers of arms sales [F-16 fighter jets] to Turkey, two months after Erdogan and the Greek PM had a cordial meeting in Istanbul, they fail to mention that in the first four months of 2022 there were over 2,300 violations of Greek national airspace or the Athens FIR, violations that of course continued after Mitsotakis’ visit to Washington, where he was lionised with Congressional standing ovations.

The exceptionally warm reception of the Greek PM did not sit well with Ankara, which has persistently and aggressively demanded that Athens strip its Eastern Aegean islands of their military defences.

In a feat of psychological projection, Sabah’s column accuses the Greek PM precisely of Erdogan’s tactics and objectives.

“Yes, tensions surrounding the Mitsotakis incident are escalating populism to strengthen the hand of the nationalist public and media before the upcoming elections…He wants Ankara to make a mistake. He aims to draw the attention of the international community to the region by portraying Türkiye as ‘aggressive’ since it does not have the capacity to fight against Türkiye alone,” the column states.

Lambasting the West, viewing US as ‘a paper tiger’

Sabah’s columnist concludes with vitriolic criticism of the military capacity of the US in its support for Ukraine, where Ankara appears to be much closer to Russia, and it asserts that Greece expects military assistance from Western allies in the event of a Greek-Turkish military clash, which few if any Greek analysts or diplomats believe.

Prayers to Allah for the Greek people, US ‘deep state conspiracies’

“However, the West, from which Mitsotakis sought help, is now suffering from gas shortages, «General winter.» The U.S., which turned out to be a paper tiger in Ukraine and is involved in deep state conspiracies, will not open a front in the Aegean against NATO member Türkiye, which has the second largest army,” Altinok asserts.

“At a time when the world is on the verge of a difficult period, may Allah help the fraternal Greek people who are stuck with a prime minister trying to become Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, he concludes.