Thaw with Turkey always the priority for Greece
The Greek government’s decision to call a halt to the dialogue with Turkey regarding confidence building measures in response to a barrage of airspace violations by Turkish fighter jets over the Greek islands was a knee-jerk reaction intended to send a message of condemnation. Unfortunately, it was also without result.
The fact is that since the CBMs were established in 1984, they have often been halted for one reason or another, only to be reinitiated as a result of pressure being exerted for a Greek-Turkish thaw by the United States and NATO in the form of recommendations for a resumption of dialogue.
If there were some who rather naively expected the meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Istanbul on March 13 to lead to a period of calm in bilateral relations as a result of the escalating tensions between the West and Moscow, they were sadly mistaken. People would also have to be naive to expect the American administration to back Greece against Turkey if Athens toed Washington’s line on the Ukraine war. Indeed, no one in Washington, or in NATO or the European Union has come out to officially rap Turkey for its recent transgressions.
The United States will not allow tension between Greece and Turkey to escalate into a military confrontation, but nor will it risk a serious deterioration in its own relationship with Ankara. For our partners, the constant crises between the two neighbours are an oriental idiosyncrasy and a nuisance – and especially now that they have extremely serious problems to deal with.
This does not mean, of course, that Greece has been abandoned by its Western allies to Turkey’s whims, but Athens does need to realise at some point that going on and on about Greece being a “strategic partner” and other such bombast is simply an ego booster for whoever is in the prime minister’s chair.
What the West wants at the end of the day is for us to get along with our neighbours, even Turkey, regardless of how difficult this may be. Yet there are still those who appear to believe that “there’s always someone suitable around,” to quote C.P. Cavafy.
(A version of this article was originally published by the Kathimerini newspaper and is reproduced by permission.)