Alexis Papachelas ALEXIS PAPACHELAS

A window of opportunity for Greece

COMMENT

TAGS: Politics, Diplomacy

It is far too early to draw any conclusions regarding how the crisis in Turkey following Friday’s failed coup by army factions will affect Greek interests. One thing is certain: Turkey’s army and security forces have suffered a tremendous blow. The erosion of the levels of professionalism and traditional discipline within the Turkish armed forces had begun some time ago. Appointments were made based on party, or other, interests and this took a significant toll, according to Greek officers who closely observe developments in the neighboring country.

The current purge being undertaken by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government, though, affects hundreds of high-ranking military personnel and public officials, many of whom belonged to the Turkish state’s elite. These are people who were educated or trained abroad and in whom Turkey had invested a lot of time. Their absence will be noticeable; it will be deeply felt. Also, we all know what happens in a pivotal organization when those in charge are “our guys” rather than the best available people for the jobs in question.

Personnel who held key positions are being rounded up and put in jail. This will cause serious damage and it will take years before some kind of balance can be restored. After all, the absence of trust between a paranoid, suspicious Sultan and the country’s security forces is not something that either side will be able to overcome easily. During this time, it might be considered too risky to conduct military exercises and operations. Perhaps this means that Athens will be able to sleep a little more easily in the short-term.

However, this is only one side of the coin. The other has to do with the constant danger that will emanate from a destabilized Turkey and an Erdogan who does not face any checks or balances to limit his powers. At the moment he is all-powerful but soon the terrorist attacks will resume, the economy will suffer and his ties with the European Union and the US will also be in question. When he finds himself in a difficult position, he will become unpredictable.

The recent developments have provided Greece with an opportunity because it has literally become the West’s last bulwark of security and stability next to a country that is becoming a great unknown. This does not mean that Greece should suddenly go around with its begging bowl but that it should find a way in which it can make a significant strategic exchange. These windows of opportunity open and close very quickly.

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