Turkey, Greece and the West

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY ALEXIS PA­PACHELAS

Turkey is in the grips of an ex­tremely com­plex cri­sis. For starters, it’s ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to fig­ure out what ex­actly hap­pened and what is cur­rently at stake. There is a lot go­ing on be­hind the scenes, in the dark. It will take some time, for in­stance, to dis­cover who or­ga­nized the failed coup and how Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan found out about it. Even darker and mys­te­ri­ous is the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Er­do­gan and Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin. It seems that the two pow­er­ful lead­ers have de­vel­oped a new mo­dus vivendi for some time now and that smoother ties with Moscow ap­pear to have a played a role in the Turk­ish mil­i­tary’s re­ac­tion. Ru­mor has it that Rus­sian in­tel­li­gence ser­vices warned Erdo- gan of move­ment in the Turk­ish mil­i­tary. It will be in­ter­est­ing to see whether or not this re­la­tion­ship will be­come closer in the near fu­ture. The rift with the United States, which is ma­jor fac­tor, will not be eas­ily mended. Ties with Europe will also go through a rough patch, with un­fore­seen con­se­quences in re­gards to the mi­grant re­lo­ca­tion deal. The Turk­ish pres­i­dent rightly be­lieves that Ber­lin and the rest of Europe no longer have much room to play hard­ball. Turkey, mean­while, is look­ing at new se­cu­rity and eco­nomic chal­lenges. Sea­soned ob­servers es­ti­mate that the back­bone of Turkey’s armed forces and se­cret ser­vices has been bro­ken and that it will take three to four years to re­pair the dam­age. Ex­peri- enced, for­eign-ed­u­cated of­fi­cers have been re­lieved of their du­ties. Those close to Er­do­gan trust no one in these sec­tors and this will in­evitably lead to paral­y­sis on sev­eral lev­els. Prob­lems will also es­ca­late in the econ­omy due to un­cer­tainty, par­tic­u­larly in tourism and the in­vest­ment cli­mate. Greece has the op­por­tu­nity to be­come an im­por­tant player in the Eastern Mediter­ranean. Al­ways think­ing in prac­ti­cal and geopo­lit­i­cal terms, the Amer­i­cans are not hid­ing their in­ten­tion to broaden their strate­gic col­lab­o­ra­tion with Greece. The Euro­peans, who see the need for im­me­di­ate as­sis­tance but are not al­ways that prac­ti­cal, took a long time to re­al­ize the geopo­lit­i­cal di­men­sions of Greece’s case. Ties with Is­rael and Egypt, mean­while, have been con­sol­i­dated and ev­ery­one is talk­ing about a strate­gic tri­an­gle. The dan­ger now is a pos­si­ble knee-jerk re­ac­tion from Ankara in the Aegean or Thrace. It would be wise for those in charge and know-it-all ex­perts to stop cry­ing wolf all the time be­cause if some­thing se­ri­ous does hap­pen we may not even re­al­ize it. What is needed right now is good sense and cau­tion. Al­though we all hope that there are no signs of ag­gres­sion from our neigh­bor, we also hope that in such an even­tu­al­ity Europe and the US would re­act swiftly, ra­tio­nally and suc­cess­fully. Re­as­sur­ances are fine but they only mat­ter when the mo­ment of truth comes and per­haps this is not as far away as we may think in Greek-West ties.

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