When Berat Albayrak, Turkey’s finance minister and the son-in-law of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, announced on May 12 that his country would soon send a drill ship to exploit natural gas resources in an area widely considered to belong to Cyprus, it was tempting to write off the incident as just another harmless flare-up in the decades-long territorial disputes in the Eastern Mediterranean. Periodically stoking tensions with Greece and Cyprus has always been a part of Turkish foreign-policy strategy.
This time is far more dangerous, however, because there are signs Turkey might be ready to escalate its confrontation beyond mere rhetoric. Albayrak’s announcement came a day before Turkey held Sea Wolf, its largest annual naval exercise in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean. Then, on May 15, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu reiterated the country’s intention to buy the S-400 missile system from Russia. And throughout this period, Turkish jets have been violating Greek airspace almost daily.
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