Athens calm over Turkey referendum, but keeping eye on Cyprus

19 April 2017
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Athens appeared relatively calm on Tuesday after the results of Sunday’s referendum in Turkey – which expanded the powers of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – as the nationalist rhetoric emanating from Ankara in the run-up to the vote is expected to subside, at least in the short term.

In a neutral statement, the government limited itself to saying that the will of the Turkish people must be respected. However, Erdogan’s announcement that national elections in Turkey will go ahead as planned in 2019 has sparked concern that there may be a new round of incendiary rhetoric.

Having failed to win the sweeping majority he had hoped for in the referendum, there is concern that the Turkish leader will, again, try to appeal to the country’s nationalists, who did not give him the support he hoped for in the plebiscite.

The closeness of the result is mainly attributed to the failure of Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Chairman Devlet Bahceli to convince his party base to back the country’s Islamist president in the referendum.

One thing that appears not to have changed is Ankara’s stance with regard to Cyprus’s gas reserves, as it has already issued two navigational telexes (navtex) reserving two large areas south of the island – a large part of which belong to Nicosia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) – to conduct research, as well as military exercises with live ammunition.

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