Turkey vs Greece: All you need to know about the recent tensions between the countries

Team Udayavani, Aug 4, 2020, 11:13 AM IST

Tensions between Turkey and Greece are escalating and may reach new heights in the coming months as both sides vow to defend their territorial rights.

The tensions first rose after Turkey converted the 1,500-year-old Hagia Sophia from a museum into a mosque. Later, the second wave comes over who will explore hydrocarbons in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Both the countries are a part of the 30-member NATO alliance. There have always been tensions between the countries but it has recently increased over Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia was a cathedral in the Byzantine Empire before it was turned into a mosque in 1453. In the 1930s, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, shut down the mosque and turned it into a museum in an attempt to make the country more secular. For the Greeks it was a key part of orthodox Christianity

Most Greeks view it as central to their Orthodox Christian religion.But  it was turned into a mosque, a day after Islamic prayers were held at the ancient site for the first time in 90 years on July 24.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also joined thousands for the first Islamic prayer in Hagia Sophia

However, it was condemned by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. He said what was happening in Istanbul was “not a show of force, but proof of weakness”

Turkey’s minister hit back saying, “Greece showed once again its enmity towards Islam and Turkey with the excuse of reacting to Hagia Sophia Mosque being opened to prayers”

On the other hand, there are tensions between the nations  over rights to the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea, which covers significant oil and gas deposits

Turkey recently announced that the seismic survey ship Oruc Reis will evaluate a disputed area for oil and gas

Greece responded by placing its air force, navy and coastguard on high alert. The Greek foreign ministry asked Turkey to “immediately stop its illegal actions that violate Greece’s sovereignty and undermine the region’s peace and security.” However, Turkey rejected the argument that the area is part of Greece’s continental shelf

Finally after the intervention of German Chancellor Angela Merkel Turkey said that it had halted the drilling operation and is ready to discuss the issue with Greece.

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