It is one of the oldest stories in the world – so old that it was not believed until archaeologists proved it. For at least 3,200 years, on the shores of the Aegean Sea, two civilisations have been fighting for supremacy over what was then the main channel of world economic trade. Today, it is no longer the Achaeans and the Trojans who look at each other with hatred, but the Greeks and the Turks. Then they were the cradle of Mediterranean civilisation, today they are two nations bent by decades of ill-considered social, economic and trade policies, both hostage to those who should be their allies, whose strength is still based on their geographical position and their ‘ability’ to frighten Europe with the spectre of a military confrontation on the borders between Russia, the West and the Middle East.

Relations between Greece and Turkey have been a rollercoaster of hostility and reconciliation since Greece gained independence in 1830. Since then, the two countries have faced each other in four major wars: the Greek-Turkish War (1897), the First Balkan War (1912-1913), the First World War (1914-1918) and finally the Greek-Turkish War (1919-1922), which was followed by twenty years of peace and cooperation, culminating in their simultaneous entry into NATO in 1952. But then came the dispute over Cyprus, the expulsion of the Greeks from Istanbul, and the coup in Nicosia in 1974, with the Turkish invasion – and to this day the two armies fiercely guard each other’s borders. After several attempts at détente, a new conflict over the maritime areas of the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean began in 2021, making the sea border between the two countries the most dangerous in Europe[1].

According to a famous Chinese analyst, at the root of all tensions is an atavistic hatred, which dates back to the times of the Greek polis and the Greek colonisation of Turkey, now three thousand years ago[2], and then grew, during the Middle Ages, due to differences in religion and respective hegemonic aspirations, linked to the wars of opposing nationalisms, which bloodied the Aegean for half a millennium, until the Greeks entered the war (1917) to obtain Constantinople (Istanbul) and Izmir (Izmir) from the Ottomans, as well as the enosis – the political union of Cyprus and Greece: a decision that led to terrible reprisals, such as the genocide of the Greeks of Pontus between 1914 and 1923[3]. Mutual hatred greatly influenced the history of the Balkans, leading to the Greek military invasion of northern Macedonia[4] and Athens’ support for Albanian independence[5] and the confrontations that were reflected in all the tragic wars in Bulgaria and the former Yugoslavia[6].

The only international attempt to settle the issue, which led to the Treaty of Sévres in 1920, so penalised Turkey that it was the precondition for all subsequent wars[7]. A treaty that provided extensive protection for minorities in Turkey and guaranteed the Kurds independence within a Turkish state, the borders of which would be defined by a special commission of the League of Nations. The treaty was not ratified by the Ottoman Parliament because of the Turkish revolution, and Mustafa Kemal Pasha Atatürk forced the great powers to return to the negotiating table, concluded with the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923. This new agreement recognised the Republic of Turkey and established mutual protection for Greek minorities in Turkey and Turkish minorities in Greece[8], resulting in forced cross-migration, known as ‘population exchange’, to strengthen mutual ties[9].

In Lausanne, in 1923, Turkey agreed to lose Cyprus (a British protectorate), Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and the Dodecanese (assigned to Italy), Tunisia and Morocco, assigned to France[10]. In fact, the history of this treaty is one of continual violations which, over the course of the 20th century, have made it, in effect, waste paper[11]. In Istanbul, between 5 and 6 September 1955, with the approval of the authorities, an angry mob stormed the shops and warehouses, the Orthodox churches and the cemeteries of Istanbul’s Greek community: the Istanbul Pogrom cost 30 lives and the end of the thousand-year-old Greek community in the metropolis on the Bosphorus[12]. 4348 buildings, 110 hotels, 27 pharmacies, 23 schools, 21 factories and 73 churches were destroyed, and almost all the inhabitants of Greek origin fled Turkey[13]. The whole thing was organised by the ruling Demokrat Parti to justify the Turkish economic crisis and point to an enemy – as the Nazis had done with the Jews a few years earlier: about 300,000 ‘rioters’, who were promised a payment of 6 dollars (never paid), and who were transported by train, taxi and lorry to the city, where the police distributed sticks, spades and ice picks to them[14]. As always, the Cyprus issue and religious reasons are among the triggers of the hatred[15].

The partitioning of Turkey according to the Treaty of Sévres (1920)[16]

This shows that Erdoğan did not invent anything[17] and that, as then, the human rights violations perpetrated by Turkish policy are made possible by NATO’s ambiguous attitude[18]: One tries to maintain a strategic country in the Atlantic alliance at all costs, to the point of condoning a bloodthirsty dictatorship[19], and then complains when Ankara deploys the Russian S-400 missile system[20], and yet F-16 and F-35 fighter planes are sold[21], and the new Stealth is built with parts mostly produced by Turkish industries[22]. The occupation of half of the island of Cyprus continues to be tolerated[23] and the three pogroms (between 1950 and 1974) against Cypriot citizens living in Turkey are pretended to be forgotten[24].

The hidden truths of post-nationalism

Tracts of the Aegean Sea illegally occupied by Turkey[25]

On 27 April 2021 negotiations on the Cyprus issue resumed. For the first time, after decades of futile attempts, the Turkish Cypriot government proposes to accept the status quo and to recognise that there are two sovereign states in Cyprus, resigning itself to the fact that the island will remain divided[26]. This proposal is opposed by the local population[27], who forget neither the attempted coup d’état in Cyprus on 15 July 1974 by Greek Cypriot nationalists, who were in favour of annexing the island to Greece[28], nor the Turkish invasion of 20 July 1974[29].

In reality, hidden by the attitude of nationalist propaganda, the problem between Greece and Turkey, at the dawn of the 21st century, is centred on the Aegean seabed, whose hitherto untapped oil and mineral deposits could mean, for both countries, wealth and energy independence[30]. Since the discovery of natural gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean in the early 2000s, Turkey has been defying international law and the delimitation of their exclusive economic zones (EEZs) with its illegal drilling, repeated violations of territorial waters, airspace and even by concluding illegitimate bilateral agreements, such as its 27 November 2019 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA), which draws a line between the eastern and western parts of the Mediterranean, threatening maritime security, natural gas exploration and new infrastructure such as the EastMed pipeline[31].

Strangled by the economic crisis produced by his own regime, Erdoğan seeks his salvation in a policy of diplomatic, military and industrial expansionism that considers all the lands that were part of the Ottoman Empire, including northern Iraq, Syria and even Libya, as his area of influence[32]. The international community has (at least formally) condemned Turkey for human rights violations, suspended negotiations for membership and participation in EU funds, condemned illegal drilling and military interventions, but Erdoğan continues undaunted – probably because he has no alternative and knows that both Russia and the US need Turkey’s geographical position and military might[33].

Across the sea, Greece is preparing to fight. The Greek Parliament, on 21 January 2021, unanimously approved the extension of the country’s territorial waters along its west coast from six to 12 nautical miles, in perfect harmony with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea[34], reserving the right to approve this extension along all its coasts, including the Aegean, which Turkey might consider a declaration of war[35]. Negotiations between the two countries have broken down: “Turkey and Greece, both NATO members, are at odds over the rights to exploit hydrocarbon resources in the eastern Mediterranean region, due to conflicting views on the extent of their continental shelves. The waters, mainly dotted with Greek islands, are rich in gas and the delimitation of their exclusive economic zones is a source of dispute between Turkey, Greece and Cyprus. Ankara claims to have the longest coastline in the eastern Mediterranean, but its maritime zone is enclosed in a narrow strip of waters due to the extent of the Greek continental shelf, which is characterised by the presence of many islands close to the Turkish border. The Greek island of Kastellorizo, located about 2 km from the southern coast of Turkey and 570 km from the Greek mainland, is a major source of frustration for Ankara, which claims those waters as its own”[36].

The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), signed in Montego Bay in 1982, establishes in Article 3 the extension of the territorial waters of each state up to 12 nautical miles from the coast[37]. In addition, Article 57 of the same document recognises a further area of sovereignty, the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), for the exclusive exploitation of resources below and above the waters extending up to 200 nautical miles from the territorial waters of each state[38]. Turkey does not accept the principle, and delimits its EEZ according to the extension of the continental shelf, claiming a much larger area and rejecting the principle that even islands can be granted an exclusive zone beyond 12 nautical miles of territorial waters: in this way, both Cyprus and the eastern islands of the Dodecanese are deprived of a large area, to the benefit of Turkey[39]. A glance at the map is enough to understand how important the dispute is.

Turkey’s territorial borders established by the Treaty of Lausanne (1923)[40]

The world’s energy consumption continues to grow, despite the principled claims of a green transition. At the same time, as some of the known deposits are nearing exhaustion, anyone who has the opportunity has begun to exploit the seabed in a wild manner[41]. The confirmation of the existence of hydrocarbon reserves at the bottom of the Eastern Mediterranean from Israel, Lebanon and Cyprus has changed the strategic calculations on Europe’s future energy security, which cannot be separated from the chronic instability of the Middle East situation and Moscow’s policy. Recent events and the winds of war in Ukraine, a transit region for Russian gas, are ample evidence of the need for alternative sources[42]. In 2012, Greece entered the race to extract these hydrocarbons from the Ionian Sea and south of Crete, together with Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Total and BP[43]. For a country that has been in economic crisis for years, this is much more than a lifeline[44].

In February 2018, ENI detected a gas field off the Cypriot coast, Calypso-1, whose estimates reach 3.5 trillion cubic metres[45]. This discovery led Italy, Egypt, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, Palestine and Jordan to set up the East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF) in January 2020[46], with the ambition of building a new undersea gas pipeline[47]. For Turkey this is a serious problem: so far the country has benefited from its geographical position, and is crossed by oil and gas pipelines connecting the Caucasus and Middle Eastern areas to Europe. Turkish infrastructure (Blue Stream, South Caucasus Pipeline and TANAP, already in operation, Southern Gas Corridor and Turkstream, under construction[48]) is one of the key elements of President Erdoğan’s economic policy[49]. Excluded from EFGM, Ankara reacts with the blockade of the Italian drilling ship Saipem in February 2018[50], with drilling off the northern coast of the island of Cyprus in November 2019[51], to arrive at the provocative naval exercise in May 2019[52] and violations of Greek territorial waters with its own fishing boats[53].

The Turkish strategy is called “Mavi Vatan” (“Blue Homeland”), and has been elaborated by Admiral Cem Gurdeniz. The aim is clear: to control the sea in order to control energy resources and impose its influence – the revenge of a Turkey that was humiliated by the Treaties of Sévres and Lausanne, a plan that turns the area into a powder keg[54]. Greece reacts with a bilateral agreement, signed with Italy, on the division of the Aegean Sea (8 June 2020[55]) and one signed with Egypt (6 August 2020[56]) for the Eastern Mediterranean, so as to be able to present to the UN the start of the operations of the Turkish ship Oruc Reis to search for hydrocarbons off the island of Kastellorizo, located less than 2 km from the southern coast of Anatolia, and 600 from the Hellenic peninsula, as an illegal act[57]. An act also supported by Paris, which expresses interest in joining the EMGF consortium.

The seriousness of the dispute between Turkey and Greece is exacerbated by an unexpected event: the European Union abandons Athens in the claws of the Troika (IMF, European Central Bank and European Commission), which needs a sacrificial victim on the altar of the controversy over the UK’s exit from the European Union – and gives Ankara the signal it has been waiting for: Athens no longer has any real allies anywhere. In the autumn of 2009, the then Socialist Prime Minister, George Papandreou, announced to his dismay that the country’s budget had been inflated in order to enter the eurozone: a deficit of 12.7% (later updated to 15.4%[58]) and public debt of €300 billion[59]. Greece is a victim of corruption and fiscal profligacy[60], but its situation, compared to that of Italy and Portugal, is serious but not irreparable.

International Monetary Fund attacks Greece

The Oruc Reis, escorted by Turkish naval vessels[61]

Wikileaks, in April 2016, makes public the contents of a 19 March 2016 teleconference, attended by the Greek head of mission of the International Monetary Fund, Delia Velkouleskou, IMF European Department Director Poul Thomsen, IMF senior executive Iva Petrova, disturbing details emerge regarding the management of the Greek crisis[62]: “The IMF would like to put debt relief for Greece on the Troika’s agenda. However, IMF officials fear that the EU will be paralysed in the first half of 2016 due to the upcoming Brexit, so no decision on Greece will be made. The IMF’s director for Europe, Thomsen, wants to put pressure on Merkel and reiterate to her that the IMF’s departure from the Troika will look bad and lead to daunting questions in the Bundestag. Thomsen vaguely links the issue of debt cancellation with the refugee issue. He talks about the refugees and then says that the IMF will at the same time (“we are saying at the moment”) come in with their demands and approach Merkel with debt relief”[63].

It is said that the German Chancellor was a supporter of IMF participation in the Troika despite the bitter opposition of some European leaders such as Sarkozy and that Mrs Merkel is undecided about debt relief for Greece because she is afraid of setting a precedent. But the transcript clearly suggests that it was the IMF that used the threat of default in Greece to force austerity[64]. When the Greek government asked the IMF for clarification on whether creating a Greek default just before the Brexit referendum was the fund’s official strategy, the IMF replied: ‘We have clearly stated what we believe is necessary for a lasting solution to the economic challenges facing Greece, one that puts Greece on a path of sustainable growth supported by a credible set of reforms accompanied by debt relief from its European partners’[65].

Julien Assange explains: the big problem for the IMF is its legitimacy to participate, as liquidator, in a bailout. Thomsen states that he considers the Greek debt to be irremediable: a contradictory thesis, argues Daniel Munévar (Colombian economist, advisor to former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis), given that the Greek protests over the IMF’s proposed reforms were based on the IMF’s own assessments and data, of which Thomsen is fully aware. It follows that the IMF’s main purpose is to destroy the Greek economy[66]. The IMF’s response was clear: if you do not do what we say, we will not grant bridging loans, and Greece will officially be bankrupt[67].

The Syriza government soon realised that there is a critical relationship between the loans and the threats received from the IMF: “They published it in writing because there were leaks”, Daniel Munévar points out: “the first ‘rescue’ loans granted in May 2010 to Greece (110 billion euros) were mainly used to bail out German and French banks”[68]. In short: since Britain’s exit from the EU would have created serious suffering for the banks in the Paris-Berlin axis, the Greek crisis was ‘invented’, using blackmail and changing the ECB’s lending rules[69]. This narrative casts a sinister light on Poul Thomsen, director of the entire operation[70].

The birth of the Structural Adjustment Programmes (an expression used to describe the changes required by the IMF) is very clear: after an initial phase in which the logic was to provide new loans to pay off old debts, resulting in an exponential growth of the latter, from the second half of the 1980s there was a shift to programmes that provided for debt reduction in exchange for harsh austerity measures, privatisation and an increase in the tax burden: a spiral that, in countries in difficulty, paves the way for further impoverishment of the populations and invasive forms of political control over states, as happened with Greece[71].

The history of Greek collapse exemplified schematically[72]

As for Merkel’s hard-line stance, it is very well explained: having blackmailed the German banks, the Chancellor gave in to the IMF, knowing that the federal coalition government would not accept any alternative, and knowing that the Greek massacre would also affect Portugal, Spain, Italy and Cyprus. If the EU had guaranteed full coverage of Athens’ newly-issued debts for a congruent period of years, there would have been no need to fork out a single euro to pretend to help Greece, since the markets trust the Eurozone, and would have supported a reform of the French and German banks[73]. In return, the Greek government would have committed to cut the deficit in a realistic and sustainable timeframe, avoiding financial, economic, institutional and social dramas.

In the controversial Greek affair, however, other and not secondary questions remain pending. Among these, one concerns the role played by Goldman Sachs – the bank, thanks to which, with a derivative finance operation, Greece was able to rig its balance sheet to enter the Euro, pretending to have an active figure that did not exist[74], and which was conducted while Mario Draghi was director of the bank’s international division[75]. A bank that, as an advisor to companies and governments, had started to use financial derivatives, outside the traditional markets, to give substance to operations that had none[76]. A bank that was then forced to pay billions in fines for having contributed to the collapse of the US banking system in 2008, for having repeatedly lied to the stock exchange, rigged balance sheets (its own and others’) and paid bribes to cover up its own misdeeds[77].

For this reason, Greece signed an agreement with Goldman Sachs for EUR 600 million[78] to transform a EUR 2.8 billion swap into a currency investment calculated at a fictitious exchange rate[79]. In this way, for a few weeks, Greece was able to claim to have almost 3 billion less debt, only to find itself, when the swap was called in, with the original debt increased from 5.1 billion euro costs – something that even the Greeks did not realise would happen, according to the head of the Greek Court of Auditors, Spyros Papanicolau: “My colleague Sardelis, who negotiated the contract, could not do what one normally does in these cases, go to the market and check whether the conditions offered were right, because the Goldman Sachs executives forbade him to do so: if he had done so, the deal would have been off” [80]. A trap. A deadly trap. Set by who knows who for who knows what reason – perhaps just to demonstrate, with a small country like Greece, that something similar is possible today[81].

Or one of the various manoeuvres by the United States, which never liked the birth of the European Union and even less the birth of the euro as a common currency[82]: “No matter whether American leaders admitted it or even faced it, the United States was not happy about the emergence of a unified, transnational state with a larger economy than the United States – and eventually an equally powerful army. The latter will probably not happen at this point, so the fear that American leaders have never faced becomes irrelevant”[83]. Relevant it becomes when, at the initiative of France and Germany, on 22 January 2019, a full five years earlier than previously agreed, the signing of the Treaty of Aachen[84] – a treaty providing for the creation of a common European army[85].

During the Trump presidency, the United States has invested billions of dollars in the destabilisation of European Union countries, leading apparently spontaneous protests such as that of the “gilets jaunes” in France[86], and financing populist and far-right political movements such as the Five Star Movement in Italy[87], Nigel Farage’s Brexit, Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, Marine Le Pen in France, Matteo Salvini and Giorgia Meloni in Italy[88], or repeatedly insulting Angela Merkel[89] or Ursula Von der Leyen[90].

Greek debt development caused by the swap with Goldman Sachs[91]

As of January 2019, Greece has only repaid EUR 41.6 billion and scheduled debt payments with a deadline beyond 2060. While the austerity measures adopted by Greece in order to strengthen the Greek government and financial structures helped to achieve the objective, it cannot be forgotten that they also bogged Greece down in a recession that did not end, at least in theory, until 2017[92], when Athens recorded a budget surplus of 0.8%[93] and its economy grew by 1.4%, but unemployment is still 22%[94], a third of the population lives below the poverty line and the 2017 debt-to-GDP ratio is 182%[95].

When the leader of Syriza, Alexis Tsipras, was elected prime minister in 2015, the country was still one step away from bankruptcy. He tried hard to reconcile the commitments made by previous governments to the IMF and measures to protect the weakest, but he had very few cards to play. Thanks to him, the Greek economy has rebounded, but the recovery is struggling, so much so that the PM was forced to enact further cuts in pensions and tax benefits for 2019 and 2020. Greece today has regained credibility, but Greek families are in the doldrums, which is why the centre-right has been able to take revenge. In August 2018, coming out of the bailout, Greece experienced a slow recovery, evidenced by rising employment and slight economic growth – but in the May 2019 elections New Democracy took 34%, Syriza 27%[96].

The ratio of public expenditure to GDP continues to be alarming[97]; the sectors most affected are real estate (with an unsustainable price increase for households) and finance (with a collapse in the value of loans granted[98]): the banks, which are reluctant to lend to even the most solid companies, given that, of the 216 billion euro disbursed for the “rescue” of Greece, barely 5% ended up in the state coffers, while the rest was used to recapitalise the credit system so that it could pay off its creditors (above all the French and German banks, which earned 1.3 billion euro from the loans granted to the Greek banks[99]) and not to support local businesses[100]; tax evasion grows and becomes the only possibility for the population to survive – thanks to an “undeclared” sector valued at more than 27% of GDP[101]; the labour market offers only part-time jobs paid below the poverty line, which has led half a million young Greeks to leave the country[102].

Yet, 2019 was, from a purely accounting point of view, the breakthrough year. European Commissioner Pierre Moscovici announced the restoration of “normality” in Greece[103]. The country is aligned with the eurozone criteria, has been readmitted to the European semester[104], while international finance is again accepting Greek banking and financial products[105]. Greece has gone from a 15% deficit (2009) to a 1.9% deficit (2019), but has done so by: a) cutting jobs and selling important assets[106]: b) creating independent tax collection to reduce tax evasion, reforming VAT[107]; c) setting up a National Transparency Authority; (d) implementing the National Anti-Corruption Action Plan; e) unifying social security institutions and health funds[108]; f) digitising various public services; g) reforming the pension system; h) reducing incentives for early retirement and increasing workers’ contributions to the pension system; i) modernising labour institutions and creating flexibility in the labour market through reforms in labour rights and protection[109].

Covid has further complicated the situation. A study by the “Levy Economics Institute of Bard College”, while taking a positive view of the containment of inflation (as a result of the drop in oil prices and the reduction of indirect taxes) and the growth of GDP also in 2019 to the extent of 1.9% (and this for the third consecutive year, exceeding the corresponding EU-28 average of 1.5% and 1.2% of the Eurozone), notes that the unemployment rate has not fallen (16.4%) and investment continues to decline[110]. The government aims to mobilise 57 billion euros over the next six years to rebuild industry, reform state services, attract investment, stimulate exports and reform institutions. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis described the national recovery plan as “a bridge to the post-Covid era” which envisages 200,000 new jobs and a 7% increase in GDP[111].

The official HRADF figures[112]

In the aid package agreed by the European Union, Athens is to receive around €32.1 billion[113], broken down as follows: €19.4 billion in grants and €12.7 billion in low-cost loans, equivalent to around 16% of its gross domestic product[114]. Of this money, 38% is earmarked for the so-called ‘green transition’ and 22% for the digital transition and scientific research[115]. Unfortunately, as the Bruegel Institute points out, the fact that most of the money will arrive in 2023 makes it a medium-term aid and not an immediate support to sustain the Greek economy and reduce unemployment[116]. The difference must be the ability of the Greek establishment to eradicate political patronage, tax evasion and the backwardness of the productive sector – all changes that can convince private individuals and banks to invest in the country now.

But this will not be enough. The Bruegel Institute’s report states: “Certainly, more green and digital investments will increase the competitiveness of the Greek economy and of many Greek companies, but ultimately competitiveness is a very micro phenomenon. So the better organised the companies are, the better trained the workforce will be, the more quickly companies will be able to use the new opportunities that arise – all of this, however, will not change the competitiveness situation”[117]. One thing is clear: the harmful effects of the privatisations of the main infrastructures that Greece has had to operate in a desperate attempt to escape from debt (airports, railways and ports), have made recovery impossible, not least because they directly affect the earnings from tourism, which is the sector capable of creating surplus value most quickly. As European citizens, we cannot avoid the indignation we feel when we see that Greece has been swindled and that its earnings end up in the pockets of banks and multinational groups that have acted as loan sharks.

The organisation in charge of dissecting Greece’s assets and finding suitable bidders is the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF) [118]. The privatisation plan is a condition imposed by the IMF to raise $56 billion – something the IMF itself considers science fiction[119]. HRADF implements the Asset Development Plan, which is reviewed every six months, and is authorised by the Government Council for Economic Policy[120]. As HRADF is also entrusted with the management of service contracts and procurement – outside any democratic control[121]. Privatisation is estimated to have increased Greek GDP by about €1 billion per year between 2011 and 2019, and to have created 20,000 new full-time jobs[122].

But these figures refer to the lowest point of the crisis, and do not take into account the GDP that those assets would have produced if they had remained in the hands of the Greek state – a figure at least ten times larger, the disposal of which, as explained by Professor Panos Fouselas of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki is causing yet another disaster: “When the economy is not doing well, public companies do not always make citizens pay. Now, if private companies accept this, water will become as expensive as chocolate in Greece’, so that ‘part of the public will lose access to basic goods’[123]. In 2017, the Greek government was planning to privatise 23% of Thessaloniki’s water and sewage system and 11% of Athens’ water and sewage system[124], and was ready to sell 17% of the Public Power Corporation, the national electricity company, and 35% of Hellenic Petroleum, the state oil company[125].

The details of this sell-off are impressive: a) 45% of Athens International Airport to AviAlliance, a German airport management company. Bid value: 672 million dollars; b) in November 2016, another German company, Fraport-Slentel, acquired control of 14 regional airports for 1.3 billion dollars for 40 years; c) 67% of the port of Thessaloniki went to a consortium of German, French and Greek investors – for 259 million dollars; d) in 2016, Piraeus, Greece’s largest port, was sold to COSCO, a Chinese company, for 313 million dollars; e) TrainOSE, the railway company, was acquired 100% to Trenitalia for $50 million; f) the Astir Vouliagmenis peninsula, located about 12 miles from Athens, was sold to an Arab-Turkish fund, the Jermyn Street Real Estate Fund, for $440 million in 2014; g) the same fate befell 500 acres of beach on the island of Rhodes, sold to a US company for $30 million, while the southern part of the waterfront was sold separately to a Greek company for $17 million[126].

If Athens cries, Ankara does not laugh

Diachronic table of capital flows in and out of Turkey[127]

While Greece struggles to regain its future, Turkey continues to sink into a crisis made irreversible by the reckless social, economic and trade policies of the Erdoğan regime, whose strategy is to repress the population, use power to illicitly enrich its clan, and try to maintain a minimum internal consensus with an aggressive diplomatic and military policy[128].

The newspapers of Monday, 13 December 2021 reported the umpteenth collapse of the Turkish lira against the dollar, which forced the Central Bank to intervene for the fourth time in a fortnight by selling dollars, drawn from the already scarce currency reserves, to support the value of the national currency, triggering a rebound[129]. This was known to happen: On December 2, 2021, Erdoğan ousted yet another Finance Minister, Lufti Elvan, who was guilty of being the last defender of orthodox economic and monetary policies based on fighting inflation and defending the lira, i.e. of wanting to do the exact opposite of what Erdoğan, who has been engaged for years in a personal battle against the central bank governors because they have raised interest rates to keep inflation at bay – something that the president believes is holding back economic growth and exports, wants[130].

According to Erdoğan, the economy needs to be supported by continual interest rate cuts to keep the cost of money down and thus stimulate the hoped-for economic growth through increased exports in a very weak currency[131]. In 2021 alone, Turkey devalued the lira by more than 48%[132] (it has lost 81% of its value in ten years), a fact that is bringing to its knees a country that may be exporting a lot, but is heavily dependent on imports for agri-food and textile production, a fact that has caused inflation to soar to more than 36%[133]. In the first weeks of 2022 the Lira’s fall continues[134]. In this context, foreign investments are scarce, with the only exception of the Qatari emirs, who support the Muslim Brotherhood and therefore President Erdoğan[135].

Once one reads these lines, one understands why the mineral and oil deposits of the Aegean Sea, as well as the intensive exploitation of fisheries and space for the navy, are a matter of survival for both countries. They cannot give up, they cannot reach an agreement, they cannot show their deep weakness in full. They must somehow win, no matter how. And if the Russians and the Chinese can look out of the window and use Turkey for their own interests, just as the EU did with Greece, the people living on the Mediterranean can only continue to be afraid and wait for the day when, because of any crisis in the surrounding area (Ukraine, Nagorno-Karabakh, Syria, Kurdistan, Qatar), the fuse runs out and the explosion comes.


[1] ;

[2] ;

[3] ; ; ;



[6] Επίτομη ιστορία της συμμετοχής του Ελληνικού Στρατού στον Πρώτο Παγκόσμιο Πόλεμο 1914 – 1918, Athens, Hellenic Army History Directorate, 1993. P.8-9;

[7] ^ Guido Formigoni, “Storia della politica internazionale nell’età contemporanea (1815-1992)”, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2000, p. 296


[9] Bottoni Stefano, Un altro Novecento, Roma, Carocci editore, 2011, p. 27;


[11] P.21







[18]ğan /




[22] ; “La Turchia è un partner di Livello 3 nel programma F-35 Joint Strike Fighter al quale ha contribuito inizialmente con 195 milioni di dollari ed è, come detto, parte della catena di fornitura. Sono otto le aziende turche impegnate nel programma F-35, tra le quali la Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) che produce e assembla le fusoliere centrali, il rivestimento e i portelloni delle stive delle armi. Strategicamente la TAI sta fabbricando il 45% degli F-35, compresi i piloni per l’armamento aria-terra”. ;

[23] p.1





[28]ğan -macron-la-crisi-nel-mediterraneo-orientale-si-risolve-dialogo/

[29]ğan -macron-la-crisi-nel-mediterraneo-orientale-si-risolve-dialogo/


[31] “Il MoU non prevede solo un salto di qualità nella cooperazione militare, ma anche la definizione di precisi confini marittimi rispetto alle zone di esclusivo sfruttamento economico nel Mediterraneo centro-orientale che promette di mettersi in linea diretta di collisione con gli interessi dell’East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF) e dei suoi paesi promotori (Grecia, Cipro, Egitto, Israele, Giordania e Italia). L’appoggio militare è dunque funzionale a espandere ulteriormente il peso economico della Turchia in Libia”. Da “Il nuovo MoU tra Turchia e Libia: una sfida alle politiche europee di contenimento delle migrazioni irregolari” di Antonio M. Morone –


[33] “E questo è anche uno dei motivi per cui non solo gli Stati Uniti, ma anche l’Unione europea, alla vigilia del Consiglio europeo del 25 e 26 marzo, hanno assunto una posizione più accomodante nei confronti di Ankara. Dopo un approccio sanzionatorio meramente di facciata verso un paese come la Turchia che sta calpestando stato di diritto e diritti umani, l’Ue è pronta ad attivare un’agenda positiva incentrata su commercio e migrazione riservando al capitolo dei diritti una formale condanna e una raccomandazione. Ankara per Washington è ancora troppo preziosa”









[42] “La prima e più importante arma di pressione della Russia è data dalla possibilità di assetare l’Europa isolandola dai suoi fornitori energetici. Se l’importanza dell’Ucraina sta anche nei suoi quasi 40 mila chilometri di gasdotti, l’area del Mar Caspio (Turkmenistan, Kazakistan, Azerbaigian e Uzbekistan) dispone di quasi 21 mila chilometri cubi di riserve di gas naturale, a fronte dei 33 mila chilometri cubi di tutto il territorio russo. Alcuni di questi paesi – è il caso del Kazakistan – indirizzano più del 50% delle proprie esportazioni di gas e petrolio in Europa, rappresentando un eccellente fornitore di idrocarburi per l’intera UE. Eppure, tali paesi esportano notevolmente meno di quanto potrebbero: la carenza di infrastrutture per le esportazioni li ha infatti resi completamente dipendenti dalla Russia;



































[77] ; ; ;



[80] -conti-truccati-della-grecia/199893/


[82] ;


[84] Il 22 gennaio 2019, il presidente francese, Emmanuel Macron, e la cancelliera Tedesca, Angela Merkel, hanno sottoscritto il “Trattato di Aquisgrana” ( bilaterales/traite-de-cooperation-franco-allemand-d-aix-la-chapelle/ )

















[101] ;




[105] ;




[109] ; IMF Country Report No. 19/340, November 2019; ; ;









[118] ;












[130]ğan -AEr7xU0






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