Greek-Turkish Relations
A Brewing Crisis in the Aegean?

Is a new Greek-Turkish crisis brewing in the Aegean? In a year of resurfacing tensions, the latest decision by a Greek court is unlikely to help matters. Reuters:

A Greek court on Wednesday blocked a second request by Turkey for the extradition of soldiers who fled to Greece in July after a failed coup attempt, court officials said, potentially increasing tensions between the traditional foes.

The ruling applied to three of eight soldiers who fled. Extradition of three others was blocked last week. The case of the remaining two is pending. […]

The drawn-out case has highlighted often strained relations between Greece and Turkey, NATO allies which remain at odds over issues from territorial disputes to ethnically-split Cyprus.

When the Greeks blocked an earlier extradition request in January, Turkey sent warships to the disputed Kardak islets, renewing a long-simmering dispute that almost blew up in a full-scale crisis 21 years ago. The two sides have continued to tussle with back-and-forth naval incursions, and Turkish nationalists have been dialing up the rhetoric of late. Erdogan drew heat last year for questioning the Greek-Turkish borders established in the Lausanne Treaty, while opposition leader Devlet Bahçeli recently invoked the memory of the Greco-Turkish War, threatening to “come like a bullet across the Aegean and teach them history all over again.”

Needless to say, being NATO allies has hardly resolved the lingering historical antagonisms between Athens and Ankara. As Turkey moves away from its Western orientation and secularism, reviving the smoldering rivalry with Greece would be a natural consequence, and potentially good politics at home for Erdogan.

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