Turkey-Greece Tensions

The tension between Greece and Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean continues
feverishly. This is because countries can not compromise with other countries to protect
their interests. A legal solution seems difficult due to the limited enforcement power of
international law.
The latest tension between the two countries is that the Turkish ship " Oruç Reis" was
sent to search for oil and natural gas in Cyprus. Greece considered this a violation of
sovereign rights and sent warships to the region. This situation has been criticized harshly by
Turkey. President Erdogan also announced that Turkey will react harshly if established
diplomatic relations.
If we consider the event on the basis of international law; The U.N. Convention on the
Law of the Sea asserts that countries may claim a territorial sea extending up to 12 nautical
miles (nm) from their coasts including the sovereignty of offshore oil underwater. Also,
distances of countries up to 200 miles are considered as Exclusive Economic Zone. In other
words, they have the right to benefit from this region economically.
Implementation of this law that is written in countries such as Greece and Turkey are
close together, it becomes difficult. Normally the 12-mile limit was reduced to 6 miles with
the Turkey-Greece because of the proximity. But Greece’s desire to raise this border again
strained the relations. Turkey said it would be a casus belli. Although it seems difficult for the
two NATO countries to fight, it is certain that the tension between them will increase if it is
not resolved diplomatically.
As I mentioned before, international law expects the countries to come to an
agreement and to be resolved since it is not fully authorized on sanctions. Control of small
islands between the two countries to be given to Greece opposes Turkey. And it claims to
have the right to extract oil in these regions. This causes countries to not agree among
themselves.
Turkey began tracking a tougher stance on foreign policy after the economic
slowdown. From this rule, it is extremely insistent on defending his rights in the Eastern
The Mediterranean. Other European countries see Turkey as a threat and so they do not support it.

The only way to solve this situation seems to be that the two countries agree to share
oil resources in the region. Otherwise, the disagreement on the issue will cause further strain
in the relations between the two countries.

This article is written by Esma Kaya

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Turkey’s Choice: Russian Meat and Russian Yandex

TURKEY-RUSSIA RELATIONS: BACKGAMMON VS CHESS
Hüseyin Bağcı

In the Cold War years, the US and Europe were Turkey’s “global navigation” for integration with NATO and European institutions. This time, it is the Russian Yandex, which will probably be the new “navigation.”
The meeting between Turkish President Erdogan and Russian President Putin on the sidelines of the BRICS meeting in Johannesburg became a “hit” when they talked about a possible visit of President Putin to Turkey where he will be served with “Russian meat” at a restaurant. President Erdogan suggested that this should be realized as soon as possible. Indeed, the Turkish-Russian relations gained another momentum at the BRICS meeting in South Africa where Turkey represented the Organisation of Islamic Conference as its term chair. During the news conference, Erdogan said that the Turkish-Russian relations are so good at the moment that “some envy our relationship,” meaning the USA and the EU indirectly.

What Putin knows is that Turkey is “forced to go to the hands of Russia” as never ever before since World War II. It is up to President Putin to encounter this proposal. Turkey made a move like in chess, and now it is up to chess master Putin what move he will do.

Turkey’s interest in joining BRICS is certainly there but the Turkish economy today is not as good as it was in 2013 and this is a problem, as some economists indicate. Turkey’s economy needs a recovery period and in the last 3 years Turkey has not reached the expected growth rates due to the domestic developments and global crisis. Turkey’s “soft landing strategy” to become a member of BRICS remains an aspiration but for this Turkey should undertake new economic measures and increase the production in order to become attractive for BRICS.

Turkey’s new change to presidential system is expected to bring more economic and political stability and it will be seen how Turkey improves. Another question is of course whether the BRICS would accept “aspiring countries” for membership. Any possible membership in BRICS would strengthen Turkey’s international positions. In case of membership, the Turkey-Russia relations would also reach a new level in the regional and global context. Turkey is an economic and global asset for Russia’s new increasingly strong stance in international relations. One of the important points in the US-Russia relations is how to deal with Turkey. Turkey’s geo-economic, geostrategic and geopolitical position is more and more important for Russia and the relations between the two countries and two presidents are getting even closer.

Putin’s perception of Turkey plays an important role here. Russian support can facilitate Turkey’s membership in both BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. In the coming years, Russia will probably replace Europe as the “classical advocate of Turkey” in international politics. Then, there is no European leader who keeps “the hand of Turkey” but rather there are many European leaders who are even afraid to be seen in the same picture with the Turkish president. Take the example of Putin-Erdogan meeting in Johannesburg. Both leaders were relaxed, made jokes and happy for the next encounter while with any European leader the meeting of Erdogan is full of tension and grim faces. The last relaxed meeting of Erdogan was with the former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder where they laughed, made jokes and were full of hope of Turkish membership in the EU. Today, interestingly, the only European leader who gives Erdogan equal treatment is President Putin.

The chemistry between Putin and Erdogan and between Turkey and Russia will lead to a new quality of relations in the future. It depends on Putin how he will show Erdogan the “way” amid the regional and global developments. In the Cold War years, the US and Europe were Turkey’s “global navigation” for integration with NATO and European institutions. This time, it is the Russian Yandex, which will probably be the new “navigation.” It remains to be seen if it leads to the right destination. After all, it is not the “navigation instrument” but the driver who does the driving. Erdogan seems determined to use Yandex this time. Putin should only offer “acceptable prices” for this. Then, “some other will further envy” this cooperation. For sure!

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