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“Evaluation of Greece”: A critical assessment of Dr Basar Baysal’s article

Γράφει ο  Ιωάννης Κανελλόπουλος: Νομικός-Πολιτικός Επιστήμων

In an article published at C4 Defence Magazine titled: Evaluation of Greece, Dr Basar Baysal (Lecturer at Ankara University) evaluates the defence capacity of Greece taking into account spatial & geographical factors and repeating the diplomatic rhetoric of the Turkish administration.

According, to Dr Baysal  Greece is vulnerable by sea, from where it  can be easily invaded  and by land, because it does not have enough spatial depth.  He notes that if Turkey does not attack now, Greece will corner it in the Bosporus Strait and the Black Sea.

Dr Baysal goes on to outline Greece’s geographical vulnerabilities explaining that Greece is a small country with many islands that they cannot be defended property due to their precarious position far away from the Greek mainland. He also points out that Greece cannot withstand an invasion by land from the direction of Western Thrace as there are no physical barriers between the border and the Nestos river.

The articles makes  specific references to Greece’s defence depth. Greece will be  in a precarious and disadvantageous  position if an invasion occur from east to west as the line of defence is thin, while if an invasion occurs with direction from north to south Greece has more chances to defend itself.

Dr Baysal reaffirms the ostentatious, but baseless Turkish assertions about the status quo of the Aegean Sea. Firstly, he wrongfully claims that Greece ιs asserting its dominion over the islands, small islands and rocky islets of the Aegean. He, also, argues that the ownership and sovereignty of these rocky islets & very small islands was not specified in the Treaty of Lausanne. His argument is partially valid  argument, but it does not take into account the fact that the treaty makers omitted to make explicit references to these island  due to their small size and their close proximity to other larger Greek islands.  

Next, he declares that Greece wants to extent its territorial waters to control ship movements from the Bosporus Strait in a calculated move to control Black Sea’s Maritime trade.  The author fails to recall that Greece already controls the global maritime trade as the most merchant ships belong to Greek owners or companies controlled by Greek shareholders. 

With regard, to the EEZ in the Aegean the author describes the Aegean Sea as having special and district status where the well – established international norms do not apply. He refuses to accept that populated islands in close seas have an  EEZ, like the islands of open seas and oceans,  insisting that the Turkish EEZ covers the Greek islands.  

The significance of this article rests not in its content, but on its author’s credentials and the repetition of the Turkish expansionist rhetoric. It highlights the spread of ‘‘belligerent and militaristic’’ approaches, throughout the Turkish society and especially the upper levels of the Turkish academia.

Moreover, the report reaffirms the Turkish diplomatic rhetoric with regard to the  EEZ in the Aegean Sea and the Greek Islands making claims of the existence of disputed areas and zones in the Aegean. These claims date back to the late 90s when Turkey attempted to capture and occupy several Greek island during  the Imia crisis in 1996 and almost provoked the outbreak of  a deadly Greco -Turkish war. 

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