In the modern age, the balance of geopolitical power is constantly changing. New alliances are being formed.
In response to the formation of these alliances, historically, tensions are coming to fore again. Pakistan and Turkey have traditionally been friends for a long time. At present, relations between the two countries are at an all-time high. But there is a kind of tension around this relationship in the subcontinent and the eastern Mediterranean region, which is multidimensional polarization.
Disputes between Turkey and Greece over oil and gas exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean have not ended. On the other hand, there is tension between Pakistan and India over the Kashmir dispute. In this context, there is a hint of a new partnership between Greece and India. On January 23, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke at the inauguration of a submarine destroyer warship agreement for the Pakistani navy, emphasizing the importance of relations between the two countries.
Ankara is building this warship for Pakistan under Turkey's ship building project. The Turkish ship building project is an ambitious initiative. The project was commissioned in the 1990s using resources under the auspices of the Turkish Ministry of Defense and initiated by the private sector. One of the objectives of this project is to supply various products produced here to friendly countries.
Pakistan has come forward to meet Turkey's target and ordered the purchase of four submarine destroyers. President Erdogan noted that Turkey and Pakistan have taken their historic brotherhood one step further referring to India-Greece relations, he said Ankara and Islamabad were ready to meet any regional challenges.
The ship building project is being considered as a milestone in Turkey-Pakistan cooperation in the defense sector. The agreement signed between the Turkish company STM and the Pakistan Navy is very significant. Pakistan's defense ministry has signed two agreements with the Turkish company. Under the agreement, a navy tanker will be built for the Pakistan Navy. Another agreement is to build an Augusta 90B class submarine for the Pakistan Naval Forces Commands.
In order to expand cooperation in the defense industry between Pakistan and Turkey, close military contacts have been initiated between the two countries. In recent years, Pakistan's frigate Alamgir and a special team of the Pakistan Navy have been participating in Turkey's military exercises in the Eastern Mediterranean. The exercise was conducted in an area of the sea that is in dispute between Turkey and Greece over ownership.
Ankara's open support for Pakistan is particularly significant in the context of Turkey's internal situation. In early 2020, a meeting took place between the then Home Minister of Pakistan Ijaz Ahmed Shah and the Turkish Ambassador to Pakistan. According to a source in the Pakistani Interior Ministry, the two sides are considering passing a bill to grant dual citizenship to each other's citizen.
The Kashmir dispute has been added as another fundamental issue in the special relationship between the two countries. Internationally known Turkish mainstream media has supported Pakistan and criticized India on the issue of India's Kashmir policy. Turkish-based NGOs, such as the Anatolian Youth Association, continue to push for limiting India's role in Kashmir. They are urging the Turkish government to act as the voice of Kashmiris.
In late 2019, Turkey's ruling AK Party MP publicly said that Turkey should monitor regional historical disputes and come up with an Islamic mechanism to resolve them. "We believe that peace and stability in South Asia cannot be considered without the Kashmir issue," said Mohammad Balad, another AK Party MP. Kashmir Solidarity Day is celebrated on February 5 every year in Indian occupied Kashmir, Pakistan and other places. He was speaking at a ceremony held at the Pakistani embassy in Ankara on the occasion.
Last year, Turkish President Erdogan's Kashmir issue was raised at the UN. "Our country and the entire nation is on the side of the Kashmiri people," he said. Those who have been going through a very painful day in the past and are still going through it.
The foreign ministers of Azerbaijan, Pakistan and Turkey met in January in the Pakistani capital Islamabad. The content of the tripartite meeting and the decision were highlighted in the Islamabad Declaration. The three countries agreed to strengthen cooperation in order to monitor, support and protect the minority Muslim population around the world. Emphasis is placed on adopting integrated strategies to address sensitive issues such as regional and international terrorism.
In the talks between the foreign ministers of the three countries, the conflict between Pakistan and India over Kashmir and the conflict between Turkey and Greece over the waters of the Eastern Mediterranean became of special importance. The three countries agreed to continue supporting each other in achieving their common goals on these issues. Their attitude is reflected in the recent Armenian-Azerbaijani war over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. In this war, Turkey and Pakistan provided important military and diplomatic assistance to Azerbaijan, which resulted in Azerbaijan winning the war. Many media outlets reported that some members of Pakistan's special forces were involved in the war.
Turkey's support for Azerbaijan’s war with Armenia was no secret. Greece and France, on the other hand, strongly support Armenia. After that, various aspects of Azerbaijan's close relations with Pakistan began to emerge. A large part of Pakistan's energy demand is probably going to meet Azerbaijan. So far the country has been dependent on Saudi Arabia for this. Based on Pakistan-Turkey relations, the country is trying to participate in the geopolitics of Central Asia. As a close ally of China, it is also believed to have Beijing's tacit supported for Pakistan.
In the context of the alliance between Pakistan and Turkey, the two rivals India and Greece are considering building a strategic partnership in their mutual interest. Although New Delhi and Athens have long enjoyed good diplomatic relations, they have never expanded their relations to the level of military cooperation or common foreign policy interests. But since the conflict with Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean, Greece has adopted a much more active foreign policy and focused on forming new alliances to counter Turkey's efforts to establish regional dominance.
In October 2020, Greek Defense Minister Nicolas Topolas held a formal meeting with Indian Ambassador to that country Amrit Loban. They discussed ways to enhance mutual cooperation between the two countries' armed forces and the defense industry. On the other hand, the country's foreign minister, during a recent meeting with the Portuguese foreign minister, emphasized the importance of strengthening relations between the European Union and India. Portugal will serve as President of the European Council for the next six months. In this case, Greece is acting as a mediator to improve India's relations with Europe, which has strengthened the diplomatic relations between Greece and India.
Greece actually wants to build a strong zone against Turkey. Athens wants to expand from the Aegean region to Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and India. Greece wants to build the strongest defense cooperation relationship with India. An agreement or memorandum of understanding could be signed between the two countries in the coming months.
India's position and huge population has become a major obstacle to achieving Turkey's geopolitical goals. Once again, Turkey's arch-enemy Greece's alliance with India has become an embarrassment for Turkey. In the context of Turkey's close relations with Pakistan, it cannot be said that India will draw Greece to it.
How far Greece will go now depends on the country. It is not yet time to say what role the Greek-Indian alliance will play in the international geopolitical context.
The writer is a student of Rajshahi University. E-mail: [email protected]