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Turkey vows to defend interests against Greece amid tensions

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By SUZAN FRASER and DEREK GATOPOULOS

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Greek and Turkey are both NATO members.

I hope this will not be a repercussion sparked by the Ukrainian war.

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I hope this will not be a repercussion sparked by the Ukrainian war.

No, this is a dispute rooted in the old Ottoman Empire and its dissolution after WWI. Greece ended up with a bunch of islands that sit very close to the coast of Turkey. The Greeks even ruled a large chunk of what is now Turkey but the forces of Mustafa Kemal, aka "Ataturk" ran the Greeks out culminating in the bloody and fiery destruction of Smyrna, now called Izmir. As part of the treaty settling that war the Greeks agreed not to arm certain islands close to the Turkish mainland. The Greeks pretty much adhered to that treaty until the Turks invaded Cyprus and took over the northern third of the Island. The Greeks were caught off guard by this and since them have armed up many of the islands off the Turkish coast.

Another major source of dispute are their overlapping territorial seas and EEZ, which just happen to be rich in oil and gas. The Turks are sponsoring oil and gas exploration in areas the Greeks consider to be part of their EEZ, but which the Turks also claim. The Greeks want to export energy, particularly gas through Cyprus and Greece to Europe while the Turks want that gas to export through Turkey. The Turks have a habit of sending warships to escort their drilling ships, further aggravating the situation.

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