here). Of course, the two issues are entirely unconnected. The operation of Halki and the treatment of its Greek minority is a matter of Turkey respecting its signature on the Lausanne Treaty (1923), a treaty which, of course, Turkey has systematically violated in an attempt to wipe out the Greek presence in Turkey; while the issue of a mosque in Athens is a domestic matter that concerns Greek society and has only arisen because of the recent influx of immigrants into Greece, the vast majority of whom entered and exist in the country illegally.
So, why is Turkey getting involved in the Athens mosque issue?
1. As part of its plan to become regional hegemon, Turkey needs to have its neighbours recognise its authority and accept its demands. Just like Turkey wants Israel to say ‘sorry’ for the Mavi Marmara incident in order to humble it, so the building of a mosque in Athens would be seen – even if only by Turkey – as a symbol of Greece caving in to Turkish pressure and accepting Turkey’s dominant role in the region.
2. Turkey’s long term plan is to extend its influence in Europe by becoming a spokesman and protector for the perceived interests of the 16m Muslims living in the EU. Similarly, Turkey expects these Muslims – around 9m of whom are ethnic Turks – to become active in their host countries in pursuing Turkey’s ambitions. Already, there are a number of Muslim and ethnic Turk parliamentarians in the UK, Holland, Germany and Denmark, who, at every opportunity, promote Turkey’s positions on Cyprus, Armenia, the EU and so on. Thus, Turkey’s encouragement of illegal migration to Greece serves a dual purpose: to destabilise Greece and to boost the number of (Turkey-oriented) Muslims in Europe.
3. Turkey sees the building of a mosque in Athens as undoing the past. The Greek Wars of Independence resulted in the demise of the Ottoman empire and the purging of the Turkish and Muslim presence in Greece. Turkey has been seeking to revenge itself against Greece ever since and the construction of a mosque in Athens would be a significant symbol of Turkey rolling back the Greek national liberation struggle and reasserting Ottoman ascendancy.