Alexis Papachelas ALEXIS PAPACHELAS

Facts and scenarios

COMMENT

TAGS: Politics, Diplomacy

We look set to go through a bumpy and potentially perilous period as far as our ties with Turkey are concerned. Let us take a look at the facts. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is very powerful, but is facing serious dangers. The Cyprus issue risks coming to a dead end – perhaps this is the last chance to solve it.

The moment of truth has also arrived in the relationship between Europe and Turkey. The latter’s accession course will freeze and this could have some serious repercussions. The most obvious is the threat that the deal between Brussels and Ankara to manage the refugee and migrant crisis might collapse.

Up to now, Athens had displayed maturity and a far-sighted attitude toward Turkey’s relations with the European Union. But now it won’t be too long before a breakdown occurs, and Greece will be the first to feel it due to proximity.

Washington is going through a transitional phase – of the kind it has never experienced before. Such periods are full of dangers, because the hands of the outgoing president “are tied.” This is even more true in this case of complete regime change in the US capital, which has caused uncertainty and questions worldwide. Finally, President Erdogan seems to have forged strong ties with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin – another important factor.

Could this Turkey-under-pressure attempt to “export” its problems to the West? It’s best not to discard this kind of scenario as we have already entered a period in which the impossible might start to look possible – on an international scale.

Erdogan has overstepped the mark – but so far only in words. He could reopen the gates for the mass flow of refugees and migrants toward Greece and Europe to start up again. Absolutely no one – including our European partners – has a solution for this sort of scenario. Any solution emerging in this case would be the result of huge pressure at that particular moment.

Another scenario which is circulating – but which seems impossible under the current circumstances – is a Crimea-type annexation of the breakaway Turkish-Cypriot state in Cyprus by Turkey. This could be Erdogan’s next move if a death certificate is officially issued with regard to attempts to solve the Cyprus issue.

The situation must be handled with extra care to avoid tension. In any case, the worst possible scenario would be for Greece to be implicated in a crisis with Turkey primarily based on the worsening of ties between the latter and the EU. This is because we would take on the cost knowing that Europe’s geopolitical strength is currently not at its highest.

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