By Orhan Coskun, Dominic Evans
ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey risks military confrontation in the eastern Mediterranean because it prizes power over diplomacy, a former prime minister who championed a less confrontational policy in the first decade of President Tayyip Erdogan’s rule told Reuters.
Ahmet Davutoglu, whose “zero problems with neighbors” mantra was a hallmark of Erdogan’s early dealings with Europe and the Middle East, broke with the president’s ruling AK Party last year to set up the rival Gelecek (Future) Party.
He criticized what he described as a lurch toward authoritarianism under Turkey’s new executive presidency, and accused the government of mishandling a series of challenges including the economy, the coronavirus outbreak and the growing tensions in the eastern Mediterranean.
Last month Turkey sent a survey vessel, escorted by frigates, to explore for oil and gas in waters claimed by Greece, a move Athens said was illegal. The two NATO allies are locked in a dispute over the extent of their continental shelves and maritime economic zones.