The Clash of Allies: Turkey and Greece’s frozen conflict

The most recent escalation in tensions exposes that rather than coming to terms with their old rivalry, tensions between the old foes continue to surface.

History is an unquestionable source of inspiration in the implementation of foreign and domestic policy. This is no exception in Turkish-Greek relations. In fact, Turkish-Greek relations have always revolved around historical facts as well as myths, which still dominate the political spectrum. A sense of historical rivalry, combined with the Ottoman legacy led to a never-ending competition between the two countries. In this competition, the only difference is Turkey proved more successful than Greece in terms of its economic and military power since the establishment of the Turkish Republic. Hence, we analyze why Greek policies and politicians have been aggressively attacking Turkey by making irredentist statements vis-a vis Turkish territory. Additionally we look at how this ancient rivalry has allowed for Greece to become a safe haven for terrorists that threaten the existence and integrity of the Turkish Republic.

The ancient-hatred against the Ottoman legacy has in some form shaped the perception of the people in Greece. In this hatred, Turkey and the Turks are being portrayed as the culprits for Greece`s problems, which the extreme right groups in the country took as a starting point for their anti-Turkish rhetoric to rally masses behind them. This resulted in nationalism to reign over Greek politics, which put Turkish-Greek relations in jeopardy for two reasons.

While tensions between Greece and Turkey have remained strained. The most recent escalation in tensions however exposes that rather than coming to terms with their old rivalry, tensions between the old foes continue to surface. Turkey’s concerns regarding Greece’s behavior are also linked to Greece harboring terrorists that threaten the Turkish Republic. These tensions have been brewing further as a Greek court denied an extradition request by Turkey for the Turkish soldiers linked to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) – who fled to Greece after the failed coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey in July 2016.

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