The purging of experienced officers from the Turkish military and a declining lack of influence over Ankara from the U.S., EU and NATO make resolving Greek-Turkish tensions more and more difficult.
This was the view of analysts interviewed by Bloomberg on Monday in a piece reviewing some of the main challenges facing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras: the economy; Turkey; the ‘Macedonia’ name dispute; and looming elections at home.
On a day when Turkey’s premier, Binali Yildirim, claimed Turkish forces removed a flag from a Greek islet, Thanos Dokos, director-general of the Athens-based Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy, was quoted by Bloomberg warning of an accidental incident sparking a conflict.
However, Dakos also said the “possibility of deliberate escalation is relatively low”.
Since the coup attempt of July 2016, hundreds of officers have been drummed out of Turkey’s military by the government, leaving key positions either empty of staffed by relatively inexperienced officers.
U.S.-Turkey relations are also at an all-time low, reducing the impact of any American mediation between Athens and Ankara, two NATO allies.
Bloomberg also reported “Greek resistance” as getting in the way of including Skopje in both NATO and the EU, as a bulwark against further Russian influence in the western Balkans:
“Preliminary discussions on the Republic of Macedonia joining the EU or NATO have continually run into a roadblock thrown up by Athens, as Greece insists the name Macedonia should refer only to its own northern region, Alexander the Great’s stronghold in ancient times.”