Erdogan's arrogance poses new threat to world
Away from the public eye in a good part of the world, the Mediterranean Sea is emerging as the latest hotspot of the world with Turkey and Greece readying themselves for a confrontation.
Away from the public eye in a good part of the world, the Mediterranean Sea is emerging as the latest hotspot of the world with Turkey and Greece readying themselves for a confrontation. The clash here is over Turkey's claim of drilling rights in the eastern Mediterranean. Greece has gone for legal extension of its territorial waters towards Italy which is, it claims, not affecting the core of disputed area.
Prime Minister Kyriako Mitsotakis told Parliament that Greece was abandoning decades of "passive" foreign policy due to the increased aggression from Turkey. At the same time, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Greece on August 26 not to test his country's patience or courage. Erdogan is sure attempting to emerge not just as a dictator of the Islamic world, but also wants to replicate a part of history by claiming rights over lands ruled by the Byzantine Empire once upon a time, just as China is doing. The problem with the Turkey President is similar to that of China's Xi. Both are facing serious internal problems, not just with their economies but also with their popularities.
Turkey is facing negative ratings from financial institutions, hence Erdogan prefers speaking more of his past glory and its restoration. Relations between the two nations have been nosediving of late. Turkey began pushing migrants into Greece illegally despite the warnings of European Union and Greece began pushing them back to Turkey. That is one of the political clash points. This apart, religion and gas also added to the trouble in the region. Relations between the two countries also worsened over the Hagia Sophia.
The centuries-old Hagia Sophia, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, was originally a cathedral in the Byzantine Empire before it was turned into a mosque in 1453, when Constantinople fell to Sultan Mehmet II's Ottoman forces. In the 1930s, however, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, shut down the mosque and turned it into a museum in an attempt to make the country more secular. Following a local court order, Erdogan on July 10 issued a decree to convert the Hagia Sophia back to a mosque.
Many Greeks continue to revere the Hagia Sophia and view it as a key part of Orthodox Christianity. On July 24, when Friday prayers were held at the Hagia Sophia for the first time in 90 years, church bells tolled across Greece in protest. Thirdly, it is nearly 40 years that the two countries have disagreed over rights to the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea, which covers significant oil and gas deposits. On July 21, Turkey announced it would be exploring a disputed part of the sea for oil and gas. Greece placed its air force, navy and coastguard on high alert. Political ambitions of Erdogan make him change his stance as often as possible. Erdogan has been warned by the EU not to escalate matters, yet little sense dawns on him due to his ambitions. This is going to be a new headache for the world now.