After weeks of furious and strong statements, Ankara and Athens announced on Tuesday, September 22, their intentions to renew dialogue to resolve their maritime disputes in the eastern Mediterranean. Decryption of the reasons for this appeasement with Didier Billion, Deputy Director of IRIS.
Tensions have eased between Greece and Turkey, over their disputes over sea borders and hydrocarbon resources in the eastern Mediterranean. After several weeks of escalation, the two countries opted out and on 22 September announced their intention to launch “exploratory talks”.
The combined diplomatic efforts of Germany and NATO have helped calm the climate between the two neighbors, whose reports have spread since the arrival of “OruçReis”, a Turkish seismic research vessel, in August in a disputed area claimed by Greece. , Cyprus and Turkey, a stone ‘s throw from the Greek island of Kastellorizo.
Speaking from afar before the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Turkish President RecepTayyip Erdogan on Tuesday, September 22, expressed the desire to resolve disagreements “in a fair and appropriate manner” through dialogue and within the framework of international law.
To understand the reasons for this appeasion, France 24 interviewed Didier Billion, Deputy Director of IRIS and Specialist in Turkey.
Tensions seem to have eased slightly in the eastern Mediterranean, as Greece and Turkey said they were ready to launch “exploratory talks”. How do you analyze this message and how do you explain this peeling?
Didier billion: There is no denying that tensions between the Greeks and the Turks are diminishing, with several explanations going in the direction of a stripping down and accepting the principle of negotiation. However, we must remain cautious and not proclaim victory too quickly, because we know that the dialogue process has only just begun. Above all, it must be completed, which is not won, as the disputes between the two countries are Ankara and Athens, however, seemed to understand well that they could not continue on the path to escalation and invective, and some politicians played a positive role in easing tensions. I am thinking in particular of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has continuously maintained the thread with each of the main characters and multiplied the initiatives that have really contributed to this atmospheric change. We must not neglect the role of NATO and therefore the United States, which did not want to see two of its members continue to exchange bird names on both sides. of the Aegean Sea, so it is the interconnection of all these elements that led to this peeling. We must welcome the new sequence that has been opened, as we were in a period of worrying tension with the risk of slipping at sea. We must now hope that this sequence can be consolidated and enable the opening of real negotiations.
Finally, was this not the goal pursued by Turkish President RecepTayyip Erdogan, who, by throbbing his chest, tried to lure Greece to the negotiating table?
It was obvious that the Turks were willing to reach negotiations, but not under any circumstances. They have established a balance of power that allows them today to accept the negotiating game. President RecepTayyipErdogan, who does not always have diplomatic methods at his disposal, fully understood with his advisers that Turkey could not win its case on all its claims in the Mediterranean. Since August, the Turkish president has blown hot and cold, sometimes giving vengeful speeches and belligerent positions, and sometimes proposals with more conciliatory tones, including in front of the Turkish parliament, which paves the way for negotiations to resolve this crisis. Finally, in this case, where no one wants to lose face, everyone showed their muscles, whether it was Turkey, Greece, with some speeches by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who were in the same tone as the Turkish president, or again France, who wanted to hurry on things. We must not be fooled: beyond these questions about the ego, we must remember that a much more positive path has been opened.
Throughout this crisis, France and Germany will have adopted very different strategies. How do you explain that?
There is a real difference in appreciation, understanding and perception of what Turkey is today between Paris and Berlin in this matter. Germany clearly condemned the strategy for the settlement against Turkey, and this for several reasons: Angela Merkela a desire to maintain a close link with dialogue with Turkey, without hesitation to condemn the shortcomings of Turkish power and human rights violations in the country. She was at the forefront of negotiating with Ankara during the refugee crisis in 2016. We must not forget that Germany has a large Turkish-Turkish community that affects relations between the two countries. Another reason is more structural: for decades, Germany had all his energy concentrated on economic reconstruction, and he was often criticized for not taking sufficient responsibility for foreign policy. However, we are no longer in this period and Berlin has decided to play its full international role, either on the European or international stage. That is what Angela Merkel is doing with her methods of conciliation and dialogue and with some success, precisely in this matter, where her strategy differs radically from that adopted by Emmanuel Macron. The latter tried to create an assumed balance of power with RecepTayyipErdogan for a number of reasons, especially because there are several disputes that have worsened with Turkey, precisely around the Libyan issue. It is not by raising the tone that we will intimidate the Turkish President, it will not work, because despite the differences with Ankara, nothing can replace the difficult but necessary way of negotiating, and Angela Merkel was right on this point.