By Peter Tase
In his article published in April 2020, at London’s Central Banking Magazine, Prof. Dr. Steve H. Hanke  argued that: “With the onset of the coronavirus, the world has become engulfed in the largest crisis it has faced since World War II. And, with each crisis – large or small – there is always an overwhelming public outcry for the government to do something. […] The expansions take many forms, but they all result in an increase in the exercise of power by government over society and the economy. These ‘power grabs’ often remain long after the crisis has passed. Indeed, each crisis carries with it a ratchet that increases the scope and scale of the state’s power.”
While the global virus disease outbreak is hovering on the horizon, Hanke’s assessment has nailed down an attitude that is pervasive among European countries – not only on their domestic monetary – economic policies but also in their foreign affairs – such as Greece governed by corrupt politicians that are violating international maritime laws and extrapolating their military provocations and conducting joint military exercises together with United Arab Emirates’ Air Force, as well as French and Italian Armed Forces, in the Turkish maritime space of eastern Mediterranean.
In fact obstruction has always come from the EU; Paris and Brussels have caused bad blood and confusion while President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has shown an admirable grade of statecraft and impeccable vision when it comes to ensuring European borders’ security, military and intelligence cooperation with key EU Member nations; and his government invested large financial resources towards humanitarian aid (by hosting over four million Syrian, Afghan refugees) and Ankara has strengthened its democratic institutions.
Furthermore, on August 20, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the discovery of his country’s biggest gas discovery ever, the Sakarya field in the Black Sea that will be operational by 2023. This is another impressive milestone of Ankara that EU’s surrogates try to crush and avoid any well-deserved praise.
On August 10, according to the Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez, the Oruç Reis vessel had left the “Turkish coastal town of Antalya for a new research area, which lies in seas claimed by Athens and Cairo.” Ankara has every right to conduct mineral research on these waters that are illegally contested by the two neighboring countries.
Greece’s economic hardships and increasing unemployment levels at home have precipitated into creating an artificial crisis and triggering military incidents with the Republic of Turkey over the operations of Turkish seismic surveying ship, Oruç Reis; these are unprecedented acts that openly violate the sovereign maritime territory of Turkey in Eastern Mediterranean and are nasty efforts that aim to dissuade Ankara from its legitimate rights to conduct oil and natural gas exploration. The Republic of Turkey has every right to conduct oil and natural gas drilling in Eastern Mediterranean, nearby Cyprus as well as assess mineral wealth of its maritime swath stretching from Agathonísi Island all the way to the shores of Rhodes and Kastellorizo islands.
As the European Union is preparing sanctions against Turkey and will discuss further support towards Greece on its upcoming summit on September 24, we observe once again a double standard policy openly applied by Brussels’ EU bureaucrats and Athens is given a blank check from its European allies to expand its territorial claims against Turkey without any vacillation. EU is committing a dangerous precedent in letting Kyriakos Mitsotakis pursue gross violations of international maritime laws and his diplomatic efforts have become a laughing stock in Eurasia.
It comes as no surprise that Greece has been given a special immunity by its European buddies despite of Athens’ terrible low scores in the fight against corruption, organized crime, respect for human rights and human trafficking. The political support and biased actions coming from the European Council are devolving Greece’s behavior into that of having an axe to grind; therefore, grossly discriminating Ankara’s geographic rights to conduct mineral research on its own backyard.
No one could have imagined that Prof. Steve H. Hanke’s prediction (meant to portray domestic policies of individual nations) is so relevant and reaches higher dimensions in European politics– leaves one country’s borders and causes international conflicts in the Mediterranean – and exacerbates Greece’s expansionist aspirations in the Aegean Sea while the rest of Europe is grappling with a serious economic stagnation and irreparable financial burdens.
Nonetheless, the EU is setting aside other priorities and is politically aiding Athens as the latter upsets the apple cart as Prof. Hanke wrote: “more active government also attracts opportunists [in this case EU’s bureaucrats and bankers], who perceive that a national emergency can serve as a useful pretext for achieving their own objectives to permanently entrench and satisfy their special interests.”
In the long run Greece again will prove its mastery of ransacking EU’s coffers.
 Steve H. Hanke is a professor of applied economics and co-director of the Institute for Applied Economics, Global Health, and the Study of Business Enterprise at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. https://www.centralbanking.com/central-banks/economics/7522726/crises-enliven-totalitarian-temptations https://engineering.jhu.edu/ehe/faculty/steve-h-hanke/