The Turk­ish bub­ble

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY ALEXIS PAPACHELAS

Turkey is head­ing for yet another deep cri­sis. Fears for the Turk­ish econ­omy in in­ter­na­tional de­ci­sion-mak­ing cen­ters are run­ning very high and it’s only con­sid­ered a mat­ter of time now be­fore the bub­ble bursts. The fact that the Er­do­gan sys­tem is­sues its own loans out­side the in­sti­tu­tional bank­ing frame­work speaks vol­umes. This may prove to be the Turk­ish leader’s Achilles’ heel be­cause it could turn his own sup­port­ers against him. Those who know the neigh­bor­hood well wouldn’t be sur­prised at any sce­nario, even one of civil war or a sit­u­a­tion sim­i­lar to that in Venezuela. If some­thing like that were in­deed to hap­pen, then it would lead to an in­crease in para­noia, and risky be­hav­ior. There are also big ques­tions re­gard­ing Turkey’s geostrate­gic pol­icy and se­cu­rity. Of course the West does not want to lose Turkey. But the rift is deep and it’s only get­ting deeper. Ger­many has taken its forces out of In­cir­lik and moved them to Jor­dan. There’s solid in­for­ma­tion in­di­cat­ing the US is pre­par­ing to do the same and that it has se­cured some­where to set up a new base in the Kur­dish-ad­min­is­tered part of Iraq. There is un­cer­tainty and dis­trust when it comes to Turkey’s in­ten­tions. The failed ne­go­ti­a­tions be­fore the Gulf War, which forced the Amer­i­cans to ig­nore Turkey in their plans for this op­er­a­tion, have been regis- tered in Western in­sti­tu­tional mem­ory Here, then, is where the clas­sic ques­tion of whether Greece can and, if so is will­ing to fill a por­tion of the void left by Turkey. Words seem to sug­gest Greece can do this, as re­peated state­ments from the de­fense min­is­ter have in­di­cated. But do the prime min­is­ter and other re­spon­si­ble min­is­ters agree with this? The ex­ten­sion of the agree­ment for Souda seem to show that cer­tain dif­fi­cul­ties re­main. At some point de­ci­sions have to be made. The US sec­re­tary of de­fense may find him­self in Athens ask­ing for di­rect an­swers. At that point, the Greek side must have de­cided what it will ask for in ex­change and what it can of­fer. Pro­longed bar­gain­ing is com­mon in the East but is of­ten coun­ter­pro­duc­tive. In the mean­time, it would be good for us to be pre­pared be­cause if Turkey en­ters a mael­strom of in­ter­nal tur­moil, the risk of an in­ci­dent in the Aegean will in­crease. Turkey’s be­hav­ior has al­ready wors­ened in this re­spect and sug­gests it is openly seek­ing a skir­mish in the Aegean. Athens has carved out its red lines, which are in­deed more con­vinc­ing when they come via mil­i­tary chan­nels and not politi­cians’ state­ments. The mar­gin of er­ror is small and the risk of an ac­ci­dent is huge. Turkey’s man­age­ment struc­ture has col­lapsed and its po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship finds it­self con­stantly un­cer­tain and frus­trated.

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