Hard to the limit - the New quarrel between Athens and Ankara

at Least so much seems beyond dispute: The river Evros is the natural border between Greece and Turkey. In 2012, the Greek authorities had built a ten-Kilometer

Hard to the limit - the New quarrel between Athens and Ankara

at Least so much seems beyond dispute: The river Evros is the natural border between Greece and Turkey. In 2012, the Greek authorities had built a ten-Kilometer-long and three-metre-high barbed-wire fence to prevent "irregular Migration" through Turkey. In February 2020, the Turkish head of state Recep Tayyip Erdogan opened the border for refugees in the direction of Hellas, and the newcomers were pushed back by the Greek police with violence. The Athens government said that it wanted to expand the border fence to Turkey. First of all, a 26-kilometre-long Fence on the border town of Ferres is to be created. In mid-April this has been communicated to the Turkish side - with the note that construction works take place exclusively on Greek soil. 11.In may, the Turkish government protested to the foreign Ministry against the project and urged, moreover, that the Turkish and Greek experts should come along to consultations so that the inviolability of the border would be secured.

For a headache on both sides of the border can change course without human Intervention. The reason Konstantinos Filis, research Director explains at the Athens Institute for International relations: "In the course of time, the river bed is changing, this is quite normal in this Region. For this reason alone, there may be slight changes in the borders," says the political scientist, in an interview with DW. According to information from Filis has formed in the past few months, the weather is a swamp due to the Evros river, which dried up subsequently. Probably it is a area of less than one hectare. Now is hard to detect on which side of the border find this area, says the political scientist. If Turkish security forces to enter Greek soil, also can not say Filis. In Athens, the left opposition demanded, under the leadership of Ex-Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in any case, an opinion "to the arbitrary and aggressive actions of Turkey". However, the Greek General staff (GEETHA) has denied a push by Turkish soldiers. Even the right-wing Athens newspaper Dimokratia, which leaves barely a verbal attack on Turkey, provides your headline with a question mark: "occupied Greek soil?"

A dispute with icon effect

"No foreign Power is on Greek soil," - said in turn in a statement of the Athenian Ministry of foreign Affairs at the weekend. Even more Minister Nikos Dendias it brings the outside in an interview with the TV channel Skai on Sunday to the point: Such messages were "nonsense". To keep the Turkey put on a "militarisation of disputes", but Greece is not well-advised to fall into this trap. The Athens weekly To Vima reported that Turkish experts and the military had already carried out measurements on the river Evros in the Region of Ferres - may be not only on Turkish soil. Ankara seems to have no interest in an escalation. In an interview with To Vima, the Turkish Ambassador declares in Athens, Burak Özügergin, he was out with his Greek colleagues agree that "it is a purely technical question and not a border conflict".

whatever happened to the Evros river, it was indicative of an increase in tensions between NATO partners Greece and Turkey. Almost forgot, the time of the so-called earthquake diplomacy seems to be in the late nineties. As a reminder: in August 1999, a severe earthquake had shaken the Turkish Izmir, hurried helper from Hellas to the place of devastation. A little later the Greek capital Athens has been hit by an earthquake and the volunteers from Turkey were immediately on the spot. The mutual helpfulness made for a relatively stress-free time, the younger generations may almost seem obvious. However, at the latest, after the failed coup against Erdogan in the summer of 2016, the dark clouds gathered again over the Aegean sea. At that time, several Turkish officers fled to Greece and applied for asylum. Until today, the Greek courts rejected her extradition to Turkey for Erdogan insult them.

Neuentflammte tensions in the refugee policy

"An important turning point," says political scientist, Filis, is not least down to the outbreak of violence at the border crossing at Kastanies/Pazarkule in February, as Erdogan of thousands of refugees wanted to leave the borders of the EU to happen. His bill had not worked out. "For Erdogan, this was a loss of prestige, he is now with aggressive behavior to compensate for tries - such as the fact that the Turkish military, which also show the river Evros presence," the Analyst believes. Would have been able to respond to the Greek police this time different? Filis believes, the authorities had no other choice, as the migrants back at the border. His justification: "What do you think would happen if overnight to 20,000 new arrivals were on Greek soil? This would have been a monstrous pressure on Greece and the whole EU".

author: Jannis Papadimitriou

*The contribution of "Hard to the limit - the New quarrel between Athens and Ankara," published by Deutsche Welle. Contact with the executives here.

Deutsche Welle
Updated Date: 25 May 2020, 06:27

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