Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is instrumentalising unrest inside and outside Turkish borders for its own geopolitical benefit, Ethnos reported.
The fact that Turkey is taking advantage of turmoil as an opportunity either to invade foreign lands, creating perfectly expanded Turkish influence, or to blackmail, should now be obvious.
He has already done so
- in Cyprus (invasion/occupation since 1974)
- in the Aegean (Imia)
- in Syria (repeated attacks after 2016, permanent military presence and funding of jihadist organisations)
- in Libya (Turkish-Tripoli memorandum to steal Greek maritime space and military support for jihadists)
- in Palestine (Mavi Marmara and friendship with Hamas) but also more broadly in the Arab world (partnerships with the Muslim Brotherhood in the shadow of the Arab Spring)
- in the troubled Balkans (in favouor of the illegal “independence” of Kosovo from Serbia)
- in sub-Saharan Africa (like in Mali)
- in Crimea (in favour of the Tatars )
- in northwest China (in favour of the Uighurs)
When Erdoğan visited Somalia in 2011, as Prime Minister at the time, he was the first foreign leader to set foot in the war-torn African country in decades, and he also became the first NATO leader involved so overtly in the Libyan conflict.
In 2020, Ankara is trying to escalate tensions on a number of external fronts with the ultimate goal of not fully controlling them (which would be virtually impossible) but being able to adequately control them through proxy governments for the benefit of its own interests.
Even in the current “turmoil” in the energy market amid the coronavirus pandemic (falling oil prices, uncertainty about the economic viability of a series of energy projects, etc), Turkey has rushed to use it as an opportunity by threshing alone – with its floating drilling rigs – in the waters of the Eastern Mediterranean in the temporary absence of other competing interests.
Turkish “interest”, however, is finally moving further west, leaving behind the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone and now has its eyes set on Rhodes, Karpathos, Kasos and the southeastern coast of Crete.
For years Ankara appeared to be stretching claims between the 32nd (32 ° 16’18 “E) and 28th meridian (28 ° 00’00” E), i.e. from Cyprus to Rhodes, thus erasing the impact that Kastellorizo would have in the case of a jointly agreed drafting of maritime demarcations in the Eastern Mediterranean.
In fact, starting in the summer of 2008 (July 30) and until 2012, Turkey would proceed with a series of pirate moves, assigning unilaterally much of the Eastern Mediterranean to the Turkish State Oil Company (TPAO) for research, while in September of 2011 it would also sign its own, illegal, maritime zone demarcation agreement with the pseudo-state of the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” that is not recognised by a single country in the world, besides of course Turkey.
By 2020, the data seems to have changed. The TPAO appeared a few days ago to have divided a large part of the Greek continental shelf and to claim (from Turkey, not Greece) the required “permits” to conduct seismic surveys. They would be conducted in Greek territorial waters off Crete, Kasos, Karpathos and Rhodes, thus reflecting in practice the Turkish position that the Greek islands (even the large and inhabited ones) do not have a continental shelf as confirmed by the United Nations Charter Law of the Sea..
Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez himself had said he would prepare the ground, saying on May 29 that TPAO might begin exploring for hydrocarbons within the next three to four months in Greek maritime space. It should be noted that TPAO has reportedly submitted a request to the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood Government of National Accord (GNA). Six months after last November’s Turkish-Tripoli memorandum, Ankara is now determined to strengthen its presence both in Libyan territory (with weapons systems, mercenaries, military advisers, military vehicles, drones, etc.) and around the Libyan coast (with frigates, etc.).