France and Greece: Turkey and NATO tensions

France and Greece: Turkey and NATO tensions

Kanako Mita, Sawako Utsumi, and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

President Emmanuel Macron of France reassured Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis of Greece that the Strategic Partnership on Defense and Security between both nations – will stand up to any regional intrigues. Hence the message is aimed at President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey, who continues to embroil himself in countless regional issues.

Macron said, “We fully support Greece’s sovereignty… and the Strategic Partnership will not allow any unrest in the Eastern Mediterranean.” 

Last year, Mitsotakis said, “I agree with President Macron that we Europeans have to stop naively accepting the tectonic shifts in the global geopolitical chessboard… Greece is the last Western garrison in the east. Geography dictates it, history confirms it, and civilization seals it.”

Since the signing of this agreement last year, events between the Russian Federation and Ukraine – and continuing tensions in Nagorno-Karabakh between Armenia and Azerbaijan – are reminders that parts of Europe and the Caucasus remain volatile. Other tensions in Europe include the occupation of North Cyprus by Turkey, the embattled Serbs of Kosovo, Moldova (a political tightrope), and other issues.

In the Mediterranean region (including marginal seas): tensions remain in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus (Turkey occupies North Cyprus), Egypt (terrorism in Sinai region), Greece, Israel, Lebanon, Libya, Montenegro, Morocco (Western Sahara), Syria, Tunisia (political), and Turkey. Italy and Spain also face mass immigration. Meanwhile, Albania could embroil itself in regional tensions concerning the ethnic angle – while Algeria and Morocco hold differences over Western Sahara. 

The agreement signed last year is significant because it means that Greece will be supported by France even if the aggressor is a fellow NATO member. Also, it might pave the way for European nations to focus on new military mechanisms.

Erdogan recently warned Greece. He said, “If you go further, you will pay a heavy price… We have one thing to say to Greece: Remember Izmir (1922).”

Erdogan continued, “When the time comes, we will do what is necessary… As we say, all of a sudden, we can come overnight.” 

Mitsotakis said, “I consider recent statements by the Turkish president unacceptable… However, we will always try to keep communication channels open.” 

Reuters says, “The two countries – North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies but historic foes – have been at odds for decades over a range of issues including where their continental shelves start and end, overflights in the Aegean Sea, and divided Cyprus.”

Mitsotakis is currently mired in a spyware (Predator) scandal – which looks set to create internal political convulsions. This relates to the intelligence services spying on the leader of Pasok. Meanwhile, Erdogan looks in a weakened position internally. 

Hence, the meeting between the leaders of France and Greece came at an opportune time for Mitsotakis.

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