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Storm warnings for the Aegean sea

The practice of hostage-taking is as old as humanity itself. However, a State-organized hostage-taking involving two allied nations is no ordinary event. In fact, Turkey and Greece -both members of NATO- are only allies on paper. In early March 2018, two Greek soldiers who wandered across the border with Turkey were arrested. Ankara obstinately refuses to release them under the fallacious pretext that they were arrested on espionage charges. The reality is very different: Pt Erdogan cannot tolerate that authorities in Athens refuse to extradite eight Turkish soldiers accused by Ankara to be involved in the July 2016 coup attempt. Turkish-Greece enmity has deep roots. It dates from the 19th century when Greeks were trying to shake off Ottoman rule. Many observers think that R.T. Erdogan will do absolutely anything to win the next election scheduled for 24 June. He could even question the legitimacy of the Treaty of Lausanne (1923) that defined after the end of World War I the borders of Turkey. He recently declared that the signature of this treaty had caused the loss of an area of 5 million km2 for the Ottoman Empire. Turkey, given the gross mismatch of armed forces, could easily launch a kind of "Blitzkrieg" against Greece. The US would probably not get involved in this armed conflict, especially when it comes to NATO members. And the EU would probably be paralyzed by the arrangement with Ankara government concerning the refugees. There are increasing numbers of incidents between the two countries, at sea and in the air. Expanding Turkish territorial ambitions are potentially distabilising for the whole region. A simple spark could ignite the fire. To look the other way in such troubled times is not an option.

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