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Turkey’s Groundless Claims for Greek Islands in the Aegean

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Turkey’s expansionism into the waters of the East Mediterranean over the last year rekindled maritime differences with Greece over the delineation of continental shelf and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) boundaries. Turkey’s focus has shifted on the Greek islands by either ignoring their right to generate maritime zones or by adopting double standards and diffusing certain myths pertaining to their military status. 

This has been particularly evidenced in the illegal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the demarcation of maritime boundaries that was signed between Turkey and the Libyan Government of National Accord. The MOU ignores the presence of Greek islands in the maritime area including the island of Crete violating their right to an Exclusive Economic Zone and continental shelf as provided in Article 121 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).  In a self-contradictory way, the Turkey-Libya MOU employs Turkish islands and rocks as base points coordinates to construct the equidistance line, thus constituting a clear adoption of double standards and violation of international law. Article 121 of the UNCLOS clearly foresees that only inhabited islands, and not rocks, have the same rights to an EEZ and continental shelf as mainland regions. A representative case is the United Kingdom, an island country, that has the fifth largest EEZ in the world. 

Turkey attempts hypocritically to expand its argument that Greek islands cannot create maritime zones in the Aegean Sea because it is semi-enclosed. The Turkish position is invalid when taking into consideration that Ankara delineated its EEZ with the former Soviet Union in the Black Sea which is semi-enclosed on the equidistance method. In 1986, Turkey unilaterally proclaimed a two-hundred-mile EEZ in the Black Sea in accordance with the UNCLOS, that Ankara paradoxically never signed. One should also take into consideration that Greece has a total of 3,100 islands of which approximately 2,400 are in the Aegean Sea. By comparison, Turkey has only three islands in the Aegean. All this exposes Turkey’s double standards and selective enforcement of international law aggregating the level of Ankara’s unreliability.

Turkey deliberately ignores the existence of Greek islands whose coastline added to that of the mainland amounts for a total of 15.655 km as opposed to 8.368 km of the Turkish coastline. Research institutions like the World Resources Institute and CIA’s “The World Factbook” come to the same conclusion, no matter which metric is used, that Greece has a significantly larger coastline than Turkey, especially in the East Mediterranean. In addition, the Turkish argument regarding the island of Kastelorizo that it is an isolated island about 600 km from mainland Greece linking it to the case of Channel islands is null. The reason is that unlike Channel islands, Kastelorizo is not isolated far from the Greek coastline. In reality, it is part of the Dodecanese islands located only 60 nautical miles away from the Greek island of Rhodes.

On a parallel level, the recent issuance by Turkey of six Navigational Telexes (Navtex) stating that Greek islands are militarized in violation of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne falls within Ankara’s persistent attempts to distort facts on the ground. As known, the status of Greek islands in the Eastern Aegean is governed by three international treaties. The islands of Lesvos, Chios, Samos, and Ikaria by the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923.The status of the Dodecanese islands is governed by the 1947 Paris Peace Treaty and that of the islands of Lemnos and Samothrace by the 1936 Montreux Convention.

Turkey deliberately distorts provisions of the Treaty of Lausanne. Notably, the Treaty of Lausanne has been targeted by the Turkish leadership on numerous occasions calling for its revision. On that premise, the Treaty of Lausanne explicitly provides that Greek military forces in the islands of Lesvos, Chios, Samos, and Ikaria will be limited to the normal contingent called up for military service, which can be trained on the spot. It also foresees a force of gendarmerie and police in proportion to the force of gendarmerie, and police existing in the whole of the Greek territory. Practically, the only country that violates no-fly provisions of the Treaty of Lausanne over the four Greek islands is Turkey. The Turkish Air force systematically violates Greek airspace and flies over Aegean islands.

When it comes to the military status of the islands of Lemnos and Samothrace that is determined by the Montreux Convention of 1936, it is a Greek right that has been recognized by Turkey for decades. On the occasion of the ratification of the Montreux Treaty, then Turkish Foreign Minister Rustu Aras recognized without reservations in his address to the Turkish National Assembly, Greece’s legal right to deploy troops on Lemnos and Samothrace. Then Turkish foreign minister specifically stated as it can be identified in Minutes of the Turkish National Assembly on July 31st, 1936,that “the provisions pertaining to the islands of Limnos and Samothrace, which belong to our neighbour and friendly country Greece and were demilitarized in application of the 1923 Lausanne Treaty, were also abolished by the new Montreux Treaty, which gives us great pleasure”.  As known, Turkey approved the Montreux convention’s provisions for home and abroad.

As for the Dodecanese islands, there is Greek National Guard presence in accordance with provisions of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe. Turkish claims on the demilitarization of the Dodecanese islands are irrelevant as well as null and void for number of reasons. First, Turkey is not a signatory to the Paris Peace Treaty. It is a third state and as such no rights or obligations are created for or against it respectively according to Article 34 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.

Second, Greece has the right to defensively shield the Dodecanese islands, that are Greek territory, in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter. Article 51 foresees that a UN member state has the right to legitimate defence in the event of an armed attack against it, or in the event of a threat of use of force. Greece is entitled to defend itself especially when taking into consideration that Turkey repeatedly violates Greek airspace and maritime waters, has proceeded with the formation of the Aegean Army, and threatens Greece with war (casus belli) approved by Turkey’s Grand National Assembly in 1995, should Athens extend its territorial waters to 12 nautical miles. It is in the context of self-defence that Greece has decided to reinforce its Air Force with French-made Rafale and American F-35 fighter jets as well as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and drone response systems, possibly within 2021.

The fact that Turkey maintains groundless arguments towards Greece shows the limits of Turkish policies in the region. From the so-called “zero-problems with neighbours’” policy, Turkey has moved to the practice of “problems with almost every single neighbour” and has become increasingly isolated. Turkey’s neo-Ottoman ambitions, promoted through revisionism, endanger peace in the wider region.

Against this backdrop, Greece, a uniquely positioned country and constructive member of the international community, is committed to peaceful resolution of any differences with its neighbours through dialogue and consultation. Greece proved so with the signing of agreements on the delimitation of EEZs with Egypt and Italy and aspires to do the same with Turkey. The ball is in Turkey’s court. Turkey must now decide whether to take the path of international legality or that of adventurism.

Antonia Dimou is Head of the Middle East Unit at the Institute for Security and Defense Analyses, Greece; and, an Associate at the Center for Middle East Development, University of California, Los Angeles

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Europe’s former imperial countries are now desperate U.S. colonies

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nord stream

India is no longer a colony of the UK, but Germany and other European countries have become — now quite obviously — colonies of the United States, and their economies will be financially bled by the world-bestriding U.S. imperialist center, just like the UK and other European nations had previously (and infamously) exploited India and its other colonies.

The U.S. Government’s having blown-up the Nord Stream gas pipelines from Russia to Europe — after years of efforts to sabotage them more subtly by other, more ‘diplomatic’ (but less permanent), means — will leave Europe permanently forced to pay vastly higher rates to America and other liquefied natural gas (LNG) suppliers, and no longer with even a hope of receiving the far less-expensive Russian gas, which, until recently, fueled so many European firms to international competitiveness. Now, there’s no longer even a hope for Europe to avoid sliding into the usual model of colonies, as being banana republics, of one sort or another.

It was so natural for Russia to be Europe’s main energy-supplier, because Russia is a part of Europe, on the same continent as the other European nations, and therefore could pipeline its energy to them, and Russia had a surfeit of energy while the other European nations had a surfeit of need for it. That’s the way international capitalism is supposed to function, but imperialistic capitalism is instead international fascism, and it survives and grows only by exploiting other nations. From now on, the European nations, other than Russia, will, for at least a long time (because those giant gas-pipelines have been destroyed) be paying the world’s highest prices for energy (containerized and shipped, instead of simply pipelined), and buying much of it from Europe’s imperial center, which is increasingly recognizable now as being Europe’s real enemy: America. They will be paying tribute to the emperor — the billionaires who control the USA. These are the puppet-masters behind “the free world” (as their ‘news’-media refer to it), which is actually the new international-fascist empire. As Barack Obama called it, America is “the one indisensable nation,” which means that all other nations (in this case, the ones in Europe) are “dispensable.” Now, these former imperial nations will finally get a taste of what it’s like to be a “dispensable nation.” 

Here are some of the key U.S. operatives in Europe, who managed this situation, for the U.S. owners — brought this situation about (before Joe Biden’s agents ultimately just pulled the plug on the whole operation):

Boris Johnson, Olaf Schulz, Annalena Baerbock, Robert Habeck, Ursula von der Leyen, Josep Borrell, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Jens Stoltenberg, Emmanuel Macron, Mario Draghi — and, of course, behind the scenes, the billionaires who funded those leaders’ political careers (via political donations, plus those billionaires’ news-media and their other mass-public-opinion-forming organizations). These key agents will no doubt be paid well, in their retirements, regardless of what the public might think of them after their ‘service to the public’ is over.

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Exporting Religious Hatred to England

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A mob vandalised a Hindu temple in UK's Leicester. Twitter

Not a place hitting the main news channels often, Leicester is a small town of 250,000 inhabitants about a hundred miles north of London and 40 miles east of Birmingham the UK’s second largest city.

But an imported ideology is now the cause of religious violence that has profoundly affected Leicester’s ethnic community of South Asians.  This Hindutva ideology represents a belief in the transcendence of Hinduism and its culture.

Leicester prides itself as a city of tolerance and diversity where different religions and races all live together in relative harmony — a sort of ‘live and let live and mind your own business’ philosophy that had worked until recently.  But under the surface simmering tensions burst forth recently.  The trigger was a South Asia Cup cricket match between Indian and Pakistan held in Dubai and won by India.

Couple Hindutva with India’s win and groups of Hindu young men were keen to demonstrate their might, and did so on isolated young Muslims.  The latter then formed their own groups ready for revenge.

Where were the police one might ask.  Well, a couple of beaten up Asian teenagers did not register as exhibiting anything more than random teenage violence.  They were slow to react and did not discuss the ominous truth of religion as the prime mover behind the violence.

Civic leaders on both sides are now trying to quell the attacks.  But the damage has been done and the seeds of ill-feeling have been sown within the community meaning Hindus vis-a-vis Muslims and vice versa. 

India’s per capita GDP is higher than for Pakistan or Bangladesh, the two countries bordering it, which together constitute the subcontinent.  Thus the three countries are similar culturally.  The next question to ask is why then is India hugging the bottom on the 2020 World Happiness Report, next to ill-fated war-torn places like Yemen.  India is ranked 144 while its rival and neighbor Pakistan, although lower in per capita GDP, ranks a shocking (for India) 66.  Bangladesh also ranks much higher than India at 107, despite its devastating floods and typhoons.

Perhaps the answer lies in the pervasive hate that is the currency of the ruling BJP (Bharatia Janata Party), a currency spent liberally during general elections to the detriment of the Congress Party, which has stood for a secular India since independence.

But hate yields more votes as BJP leaders Norendra Modi and Amit Shah know well.  After all, they came to power via the destruction of the historic nearly five century old Babri Mosque, built on a Hindu holy site in an effort to ally Hindus by an astute Babur, the Mughal whose hold on India, just wrested from the Muslim Pathan kings, was still weak.  It worked for Babur then; its destruction worked for the BJP in the 21st century

Has India become more civilized since? 

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Giorgia Meloni: a return to Mussolini’s Italy?

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In recent years there has been a dramatic increase in the number of far-right political parties across Europe. They have managed to use the widespread discontent from society with the values and functioning of democracy to establish strong footholds in many countries, including those that were thought to be immune to such radicalisation. The reach of the far right does not recognise boundaries, and it is not a new phenomenon either. It has had a considerable historical role in Latin America, in Indonesia, Japan, Australia, Myanmar, India, South Africa, Germany, Italy, the United States, and more recently in Turkey, Brazil and Hungary which have suffered serious damage to their democratic rules and institutions. It is in this context that the election of Giorgia Meloni in Italy as the possible next Prime Minister.

Italy has a long history with fascism and far-right extremism that has forever characterised Italian politics. Italy’s history after the WWII can largely be blamed for this slow but steady radicalisation of its political landscape. Unlike Germany that went through a serious process of denazification after allied victory, Italy was not cleared of vestiges of fascism. After 1945, and with the emergence of the USSR as a rival power, the allies focused their attention and efforts on fighting Communist USSR. Italy, surprisingly, had a considerable number of communist supporters, therefore fascism was seen as something positive in the fight of USSR ideology expansionism. Fascism was good to fight communism, and allies turned a blind eye to it, and the creation of the Italian Social Movement (MSI) in 1946 did not raise any red flags. The party managed to become the fourth largest in Italy in 20 years.

The woman who will become Italy’s next Prime Minister leads a conservative party that can be traced back to the MSI: The Brothers of Italy, whose logo revives the MSI emblem. Meloni´s victory should be read against the backdrop of recent triumphs for the far right elsewhere in Europe. In France, despite the loss of Le Pen in the presidential election, the share of popular vote shifted the French political centre to the right; in Sweden the Sweden Democrats are expected to play a major role in defining Swedish politics after having won the second largest share of seats at the general election earlier in September; the same in happening in Hungary and Poland.

This revival of far-right extremism is not new. The collapse of the USSR allowed formerly dormant far right movements to flourish. This resurgence should  also be understood as the inability of centre and centre-left parties to connect with voters, and to appear attractive. Italy’s recent economic crisis has made Italians particularly susceptible to anti-establishment ideas. Italy was one of the countries that suffered the most during the pandemic specially fairly early on: Lots of people died, a lot of businesses had to close down, Italy found it hard to get support from the rest of the European Union. Meloni and her coalition capitalised this discontent. Meloni has chosen to fight the same enemies as other populist leaders: the LGBTQ+ community; immigrants, the European Union, Muslims; former Italian leaders and multiculturalism. She echoes Mussolini’s natalist obsession; Volume Mussolini argued that the Western race was in danger of extinction by other races of colour, Meloni has focused on ethnic substitution, defined as the loss of Italian identity as a result of globalisation and uncontrolled mass immigration fostered by the European Union. This has translated into harsh xenophobic policies.

Meloni’s election ironically coincide with the 100th anniversary of the March on Rome in October 1922 that brought Mussolini to power. 100 years later Italians. May have elected its first woman to become a Prime Minister, while this represents a break with the past and it symbolises a good step forward in theory, she also represents one of Italy’s worst chapters in its past: Mussolini’s Fascism. Meloni was a former MSI activist, and she is likely to form a government deeply rooted in populism and fascism, are very dangerous combination for contemporary European politics. We should not also allow to be fooled by her election as a woman. She has followed a similar path to Marie Le Pen called gender washing. She has adopted unknown threatening image as a female politician to mask the force of her extremism. For someone who is not familiar with Italian politics, her victory could be read as the triumph of female empowerment and gender equality. Throughout her campaign, she posed as a defender of women, however, her party has rolled back on women’s rights, especially access to abortion.

Gender washing is particularly predominant among right wing parties, as they do a better job at promoting women. Women like Meloni and Le Pen Are protected by the elite, because they support, the very pillars of male power and privilege, these women very often behave in the same way as the men in power. Meloni’s slogan God, Fatherland, and Family echoes the man-dominated and conservative model dating back to the Italy of Mussolini in the 1920s. Meloni’s politics should become more important than her gender, especially as she does not advance women’s empowerment, on the contrary, her victory means a drawback for women’s rights in Italy. Meloni is simply one more far-right candidate that has made it to power.

This should be worrying for Europe as a whole. There has been a constant failure to address the growing threat of the far-right movement at national and on a European level. In recent years, we have seen a slow and steady shift of European politics to the right, and the normalisation of a less inclusive and more racist and discriminatory discourse. This shift to the right should be seen as a ticking time bomb for the pillars of democracy. The pandemic and the current war in Ukraine have not helped the case for democracy.

There are rising living costs in the continent that are undermining governments and European institutions, and making people feel less satisfied with the way their countries are handling these issues. Crises have always been excellent breeding grounds for extremism, whatever political ideology it is. People are more scared during a crisis, allowing the politics or fear to work, and swing voters towards far-right extremists in particular. People that are more likely to vote for far-right alternatives, favour certainty and stability amidst societal changes. Change is perceived as a threat to conservative voters. Under current conditions, there are enough real or perceived changes for extremist to put the blame on. This is one of the greatest paradoxes and dangers of populism and extremism: it often identifies real problems, but seeks to replace them with something worse, the slow and almost imperceptible destruction of democratic values, institutions, and liberties.

The irony behind this is that although populists are usually extremely bad at running a country, the blame will never be placed on them. Populist leaders consolidate support by creating enemies and dividing the population between “us” and “them”. Failure in public policies, inability to provide viable solutions to crises will never be attributed to their elected officials, but rather to the enemies they have decided to use as scapegoats. In this way, as populist governments are unlikely to solve crises, things will eventually worsen, and more crises are inevitable;  meaning more fear is  also unavoidable. This creates a vicious circle that provides populists and extremists with further opportunities for power.

If there is something to be learnt from the current shift in international politics to the right, is the fact that voting behaviour differs from country to country. All politics is local. Voters are influenced by charismatic leaders, local events, regional issues etc. However, when it comes to the rise of extremism, common ground can be found between countries: the existence of a political, economic, or social crisis. Some far-right narratives have been able to cross borders, namely, anti-immigration and white and male supremacism. The Europe of today may be very dissimilar to the Europe of the near future should far-right movement continue to attain power in most countries. Far-right populist parties are a pan-European concern that should be addressed if we want democracy to survive in the long run.

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