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50 years ago, the Turkish government closed the doors of Halki Seminary, an institution that served as the main school of theology for the Ecumenical Patriarchate, thus depriving the Ecumenical Patriarchate the ability to train Orthodox clergy in its historic home. In the decades since, the Hellenic community, religious freedom and human rights adv…
 
Armenia’s government said on Wednesday that three of its soldiers were killed after Azeri forces attacked Armenian positions near the border where clashes have become more frequent despite a ceasefire agreed to after Azerbaijan’s assault on Nagorno Karabakh last fall. Both sides later accepted a Russian ceasefire proposal to try to calm tensions. M…
 
Over the last ten years, Tunisia has been viewed as the “lone success story” of the Arab Spring. The country was plunged into crisis earlier this week, however, after its president suspended parliament and dismissed Tunisia’s prime minister in a move denounced as a coup by Tunisia’s main political parties. Steven Cook, an expert on Arab and Turkish…
 
Far-right groups have had a strong presence in recent rallies by anti-vaxx groups against government efforts to step up vaccination, as they see the pandemic and the social pressures it has created as an opportunity to regroup in the post-Golden Dawn era. In fact, according to police, around half of the some 3,500 people that gathered at a Syntagma…
 
Across Turkish-occupied territories in northern Syria, a pattern of violence and criminality has been established, and Turkish-backed groups are accused of becoming criminal syndicates that kidnap for money and exploit citizens’ resources for their own gain. A recent piece in Al Monitor focuses on Afrin, the majority Kurdish enclave in northern Syr…
 
Democratic and Republican senators voiced heavy criticism of Ankara on Wednesday during a hearing on US policy toward Turkey in which Victoria Nuland, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, testified. Key Senators called out Ankara for backsliding on human rights, undermining NATO, being an “aggressor” toward Greece and Cyprus, and much…
 
Turkish President Erdogan and Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar on Tuesday announced plans to reopen Varosha, part of the fenced off city of Famagusta in the occupied north of Cyprus. The move is in violation of UN Security Council resolutions, which call for Varosha to be handed over to UN administration, and to allow the original inhabitants to …
 
This past Thursday marked the 5 year anniversary from the failed coup attempt that took place in Turkey which has since reshaped the country. The Erdogan government has used the failed coup to reshape the country's policies, institutions, political landscape and foreign posture, cracking down on dissidents both in Turkey and abroad. David Lepeska j…
 
As the United States looks to navigate relations with Turkey, the lack of a clear destination for the relationship will result in a good deal of unpredictability and some level of instability in regions such as the Eastern Mediterranean. In his latest piece in Kathimerini, Endy Zemenides makes the case that this lack of predictability will pose a p…
 
Faced with a surge in coronavirus infections, Greece on Friday announced new rules for open air entertainment venues such as bars and nightclubs stipulating that customers must hold proof that they have been vaccinated or recovered from Covid-19. The new rules are designed to give more freedom to people who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 and…
 
Turkey’s President Erdogan called Israel's new president, Isaac Herzog, on Monday to congratulate him on taking office. The call came amid strained relations between the two countries who expelled their ambassadors in 2018 after a bitter falling-out. Both sides emphasized the importance of Israeli-Turkish ties, but said the other must move first fo…
 
The kickoff of the Tokyo Olympic games is around the corner, and will take place amid high COVID infections and worry from the Japanese public and the medical establishment there. There are also concerns about the increasing cost of hosting the games. Given these challenges, could it be time to consider giving the Olympics a permanent home in Greec…
 
The first of six German-designed submarines destined for Turkey is scheduled to join the Turkish fleet next year. Five other subs are on the way over the next few years in a deal worth about $4 billion. Meanwhile, after a year of heightened tensions in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean as a result of Turkish provocations, Greece is warning t…
 
Turkey’s President Erdogan is planning to visit the occupied northern part of Cyprus on July 20th, the anniversary of Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus in 1974, where events are expected to focus on the fenced-off town of Varosha. Turkey is planning major infrastructure developments in occupied Varosha, which is in direct contravention of multiple UN Sec…
 
Lebanon is struggling with severe electricity and water shortages after two of the country’s main power plants ran out of fuel. This is only the latest manifestation of a financial and political crisis that shows little sign of ending. Lebanon’s government is bankrupt, has defaulted on its international debt, and has failed to take the measures req…
 
David Harris, the CEO of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), who is in Greece to meet with Greek political leaders and attend The Economist conference, joins the Greek Current to talk about his latest interview with Kathimerini’s Tom Ellis, where they explored topics including regional cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean, the US-Greece Defens…
 
A recent US government publication of restricted cultural property imports originating in Turkey - at Ankara’s request - has caused a number of reactions from experts. While illicit trafficking in antiquities is a serious problem, some specialists are concerned that Turkey could use this new agreement to further marginalize indigenous ethnic and re…
 
During the municipal elections in 2019, Turkey watchers were keeping a close eye on the Istanbul race, where Ekrem Imamoglu defeated Erdogan’s handpicked candidate twice. In the same election, Erdogan’s candidate also lost in Ankara, where Mansur Yavas won the election, and his popularity has been rising. Nikos Efstathiou, a journalist with Kathime…
 
In the first sign of any real movement on the migration issue in the EU in the past five years, member states reached a deal this week to strengthen the EU’s asylum agency. European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas said the agreement is a “first important foundation” in the effort to build an effective European-wide asylum system. Exper…
 
During the early stages of the Euro 2020 soccer championship in June, aside from the games on the pitch, we also saw political issues emerge. One of those was related to the Prespes agreement, and we saw the North Macedonia national soccer team’s use of the name “Macedonia”. Prime Minister Zaev also ended up apologizing for a tweet where he used th…
 
EU governments gave Albania and North Macedonia - whose bid to join the EU is tied together - the green light to begin accession talks more than a year ago, but the process has officially stalled. One reason is that Bulgaria has put a hold on any talks with North Macedonia, which is preventing the process from moving forward. At the same time, Alba…
 
For the first time since 2015, Greece was invited to participate in the informal meeting on Syria that took place on the sidelines of the Ministerial Meeting of the Global Coalition Against Daesh - or the Islamic State - in Rome. Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, who participated, stated this was a significant step which marks the return of Greece to…
 
The Greek government announced it will offer a pre-paid card with 150 euros to young people aged 18-25 to get at least one shot of a vaccine against Covid-19, as part of an incentive to increase the number of vaccinations in the country. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called the card a “freedom pass”. The move comes as the government is hoping …
 
During the peak of the financial crisis, Greek banks were weighed down by over 100 billion euros of non-performing loans. Since then, a new set of tools has emerged to help manage this bad debt, and a large amount has been transferred from the banks to other entities. While this has improved the overall outlook for Greece’s banks, the problem of ba…
 
EU leaders travelled to Brussels today for a two day summit, with the agenda formally focusing on relations with Turkey and Russia, migration, and COVID-related travel rules. There was also growing anger over an anti-LGBTQ+ law passed by Hungary’s parliament, and 17 EU leaders, including Prime Minister Mitsotakis and President Anastasiades, signed …
 
Turkey is seeking to play a vital role in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of US forces by offering to provide security to Kabul's international airport, and has been holding talks with the US on logistic and financial support for the mission. Jake Sullivan, President Biden’s national security adviser, said last week that the US and Turkey had …
 
Germany and the United Nations are hosting an international conference on Libya in Berlin this week, and diplomats are aiming to take stock of Libya’s political progress, prepare for a national election set for December, and discuss the withdrawal of foreign troops and mercenaries. The majority of the attendees already met at the first internationa…
 
Turkey’s Constitutional Court on Monday accepted an indictment filed by a top prosecutor seeking a ban on the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) for alleged ties to the outlawed PKK, paving the way for a case to shut down Turkey’s third-largest party. The HDP denies formal links to PKK, and says any attack by Erdogan’s ruling party and its…
 
A labor reform bill that Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said would bring Greece in line with the rest of Europe and align the country’s labor laws with the digital age was passed late on Wednesday after a contentious debate in Parliament. The bill also set rules on remote work, expand paternity rights, and includes safeguards against …
 
Over the last year Turkey’s drones have seen action in conflicts ranging from Nagorno Karabakh, to Syria, to Libya, with the flagship of Turkey’s drone fleet, the Bayraktar TB2, at the center of international attention. In a recent piece in War on the Rocks, expert Aaron Stein highlights Turkey’s drone program, with an eye on how Ankara has pioneer…
 
As Bulgaria prepares for its second election in three months on July 11th, Bulgarians are confronted by a number of political scandals and allegations of corruption. Some of these allegations include accusations against the former Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, who has dominated Bulgarian politics over the last decade. Meanwhile, the United States …
 
President Biden was in Brussels for his first in-person NATO summit on Monday, where he stressed the importance of the transatlantic alliance, telling European allies that "America is back." During the summit President Biden also held his first face-to-face meeting with Turkish President Erdogan. Both President Biden and President Erdogan stated th…
 
This week has seen a number of developments in Greece, from news related to the pandemic, to tourism, to protests over a labor reform, to tennis stars Maria Sakkari and Stefanos Tsitsipas having a historic run in the French Open. Nikos Efstathiou, a journalist with Kathimerini, joins The Greek Current to discuss these news items. We look at the sta…
 
In the lead-up to President Biden’s meeting next week with Turkey’s President Erdogan on the sidelines of the NATO summit, there have been some rumors circulating that there is an agreement or a deal on the table over the Russian S-400 missiles that may help salvage relations between Turkey and the US. Diplomatic sources, however, have denied that …
 
On Wednesday Senator Bob Menendez, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Marco Rubio introduced new legislation in the Senate to strengthen the United States’ defense partnership with Greece. The bipartisan legislation, titled the US-Greece Defense and Interparliamentary Partnership Act of 2021, aims to increase support fo…
 
Developments in Greece and at the EU level this week have put the migration crisis back in the spotlight. On Monday Greece declared that Turkey is a safe destination for asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Somalia and Syria. In theory this could stem the number of arrivals at Greece borders, as it would allow it to return asylum-…
 
On June 14th Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is scheduled to meet with Turkey’s President Erdogan on the sidelines of the NATO summit. Their meeting will be intimate, with, at most, a top aide from each side present. According to officials involved in the preparation of the meeting, this face-to-face setting could lead to a more frank e…
 
Professor Aristotle Tziampiris joins us on The Greek Current today to explore his latest piece in World Politics Review, in which he outlines how Greece is reshaping the Eastern Mediterranean. We look at how Greece’s foreign policy establishment views the broader region, and how this has led it to pursue a national strategy with four pillars, inclu…
 
Last week Reuters broke a story that Turkey had used its veto power within NATO to water down an official condemnation of Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko for forcing down a passenger plane flying from Greece to Lithuania to arrest Roman Protasevich, a dissident journalist that was on board. Lukashenko’s actions drew criticism from around …
 
On Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Cyprus Nikos Christodoulides. During the call Secretary Blinken and Foreign Minister Christodoulides reaffirmed their commitment to deepening the strong US-Cyprus bilateral relationship. Secretary Blinken also pledged US support for a federal solution to th…
 
In late 2019 the head of Turkey’s Defense Industry Directorate announced that Turkey had flown its first drones to Lefkoniko Airport in the occupied northern part of Cyprus. Turkey has continued to transform this airport into a drone base, even moving many attack drones such as the Bayraktar-TB2 onto the base. Expert Michael Rubin joins The Greek C…
 
EU leaders travelled to Athens on Thursday to celebrate the 40th anniversary since Greece joined what was then the European Economic Community. The anniversary offered an opportunity to reflect on the benefits of Greece’s membership. Leaders highlighted that over the last 40 years, projects large and small have changed the country’s image and impro…
 
Since May 2nd, Sedat Peker, a notorious organized crime boss in Turkey, has been posting YouTube videos implicating current and former Turkish officials, their relatives and other prominent figures in crimes, including murder plots, rape and drug trafficking. His videos have drawn millions of views, and has triggered an in-depth look at the links b…
 
As President Biden prepares to meet with Turkey’s President Erdogan next month, the focus will undoubtedly be on the long list of foreign and security policy issues that have caused a rift in US-Turkish relations. In her latest piece, expert Tugba Tanyeri Erdemir, who joins us today on The Greek Current, makes the case that President Biden also nee…
 
President Biden is scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting with Turkish President Erdogan on the sidelines of the NATO summit on June 14. This will be the first time the two leaders will meet in person since President Biden took office earlier this year. Expert David Phillips joins The Greek Current to talk about the significance of this upcoming mee…
 
In Monday’s Kathimerini Vassilis Nedos reports that the United States has decided to boost the presence of its armed forces in Greece, both on a permanent and a rotational basis. This increase in the US military presence in Greece was a given in negotiations for the renewal of the Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement between the two countries. In t…
 
This week the US sent its highest-level official to Libya since 2014, a move it says is a signal of its increased commitment to resolving the country's crisis. The visit comes as Libya’s new Government of National Unity seeks to set the stage for a national election in December. This remains a challenge as foreign backed troops, mercenaries, and mi…
 
Earlier this week, Turkish media argued, with a frontpage story, that Turkey should sign a maritime deal with Hamas-led Gaza similar to the deal it struck with the GNA in Libya - which contravenes international law. Seth Frantzman joins The Greek Current to discuss this latest report in Turkish media, and explain how such a deal would not only put …
 
On May 19 we commemorate the genocide of the Greeks of the Pontus region, in which at least 353,000 people perished. The Pontian Genocide, although commemorated and remembered separately, was part of Turkey’s broader genocide against Christian Greeks, Armenians, and Assyrians in Anatolia and Eastern Thrace that began in the spring of 1914. By 1923,…
 
As Greece steps up its vaccination efforts across the country - especially on its islands - there’s an element of the population that is reluctant to get the vaccine, slowing the government’s inoculation drive. Reports indicate that misinformation, conspiracy theories and, in some cases, religious faith all seem to influence attitudes about the vac…
 
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