Alexis Papachelas ALEXIS PAPACHELAS

An insecure West and Turkey

COMMENT

TAGS: Defense, Diplomacy

In Washington, Berlin and Brussels, you can’t helping sensing the fear of losing Turkey as an ally and partner of the West. President Recep Tayyip Ergodan is doing everything in his power to enhance that fear and to project the image of a powerful yet unpredictable leader. His meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, his outbursts against the Europeans and his tough stance on the issue of Mosul are all part of this strategy.

The Americans have lost their traditional footholds in the Turkish military and foreign ministry. They no longer have anyone in Ankara with whom to talk and are having trouble interpreting Erdogan’s actions. The Europeans, meanwhile, are terrified that Turkey will turn the refugees staying in its borders loose on the bloc’s shores.

“We don’t want to be sitting around a table in a few years arguing over who’s to blame for losing Turkey,” one top European official said.

Greek interests are not being well-served by all this insecurity surrounding Turkey. The country’s geopolitical hand may be stronger, but we are not yet in a position where either the American or the Europeans would intervene decisively in the event of a confrontation with Turkey. In the best case, they would resort to their usual tactic of trying to meet both sides in the middle.

There are those who believe that Turkey could collapse or that Erdogan could be overthrown in the next few years, when the imprisoned establishment decides to exact its revenge. Nothing is out of the question. The Turkish economy is dealing with its own challenges and there are a number of open fronts for the country, many of them quite explosive.

Erdogan and Turkey are in a state of instability and no one can forge policy on the basis of pipe dreams. Athens no longer has the Russian card, and while it can be fairly confident that the Americans and the Europeans will not allow Greece to become a failed state, that’s as far as they can rely on their support.

The US could supply it with the hardware that would help the country to safeguard itself from an unpredictable Turkey and enhance its regional role, but Washington is not ready to make such a move, mainly because it doesn’t want to offend Ankara.

These are the broad brushstrokes we need to bear in mind as a difficult winter approaches, with challenges looming on the Cyprus issue and over the Eastern Mediterranean energy map. Let us hope that Turkey will not intensify its efforts to establish a fait accomplis in the Aegean.

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