Dan­ger­ous times

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY ALEXIS PAPACHELAS

the re­sponse from Wash­ing­ton would be: some kind of in­ter­ven­tion to pre­vent an es­ca­la­tion from both sides. Things are very dif­fer­ent to­day, as no­body knows what US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump thinks on the big is­sues or who might in­flu­ence him if he de­cided to pick up the phone to speak to Tsipras or Er­do­gan. The of­fi­cials who held these port­fo­lios are no longer in their posts and the “ma­chine” does not work as it did in the past. I can­not stress how strongly I feel about the need for cau­tion. Greece has al­ready suf­fered from mis­taken or gar­bled mes­sages from Wash­ing­ton. Right now, ev­ery Greek Amer­i­can and his cousin sud­denly ap­pear to be speak­ing for Trump, say­ing crazy things like, “Of course he’ll side with Greece if there’s a con­flict be­cause it’s a Chris­tian coun­try.” Then there’s the is­sue of the gov­ern­ment’s poor track record in read­ing in­ter­na­tional sig­nals, but the stakes are much higher than ne­go­ti­at­ing the con­clu­sion of an­other re­view here. The sec­ond fac­tor is Europe’s weak­ness in cri­sis man­age­ment. Ber­lin is try­ing to play a lead­ing role as a prob­lem solver from the Kosovo to the Cyprus is­sue, but it hasn’t been tested in a big cri­sis that needs quick re­flexes. More im­por­tantly, be­cause of the mi­gra­tion cri­sis, Er­do­gan has lever­age he didn’t pos­sess be­fore. He knows that he can de­liver a se­ri­ous blow to the Ger­man chan­cel­lor and other Euro­pean Union lead­ers by open­ing the bor­ders. I’ve left Er­do­gan for last. He’s not Tansu Ciller or even Turgut Ozal. He feels almighty – al­beit ephemer­ally – and un­der a lot of pres­sure, and there is noth­ing stand­ing be­tween him and the mil­i­tary lead­er­ship any­more; the buf­fer be­tween pol­i­tics and any tac­ti­cal de­ci­sion has been re­moved. The only ob­sta­cle is the weak­en­ing of the armed forces and the re­moval of well-trained of­fi­cers, pilots and other per­son­nel. In other words, this is ab­so­lutely not the time for an in­ci­dent be­tween Greece and Turkey.

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