Costas Iordanidis COSTAS IORDANIDIS

Turkey not to be toyed with

COMMENT

TAGS: Diplomacy, Turkey

The escalating tension between Germany and Turkey is an extremely dangerous development that could lead to regional destabilization. In this context, Greece needs to steer clear of the fray, because if we continue to persist with the delusion that the European Union constitutes a guarantee of security, then the country may soon be in the soup. NATO is Greece’s only guarantee of security.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on the thousands of his compatriots living in Germany to vote against the Christian Democrats, the Social Democrats and the Greens, saying that all three parties are “enemies” of Turkey. This initiative was a clear intervention in domestic developments of a third country, but also a kind of response to Berlin’s stance on the referendum last April for a review of the Turkish Constitution.

Erdogan’s action was obviously tactless and in violation of the spirit of diplomacy. But German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel’s statement that Europe should support the “democratically minded” majority of Turks who oppose Erdogan was also defined by political primitivism. Given the fact that Turkey is not in a pre-election period, Gabriel’s comments may even be interpreted as a public invitation for an uprising against the president. The notion of moderation appears to continue to elude certain German politicians.

Eager to back Berlin, the European Union’s commissioner for enlargement, Johannes Hahn, an Austrian, basically called on member-states to alter their position on Turkey after Erdogan’s intervention in the German pre-election campaign. The issue here is that Turkey being completely blocked out of the European system would be entirely against Greece’s national interest, as it is this country that would have to deal with that massive country should it distance itself from the West.

From Austria especially, we have been hearing ideas that are extremely difficult to interpret for some years now. In April 2016, for example, Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz argued that Europe does not need Turkey in order to deal with the influx of refugees. Espousing the ideas of the early 19th century diplomat and statesman Klemens von Metternich, Kurz obviously believes that “Asia begins at the Landstrasse” – the royal highway at what was then the southern edge of Vienna leading east into Hungary. Some political neophytes in Vienna and veterans in Berlin are hunting for votes with games on issues that shouldn't be toyed with – we shouldn’t pay the price for their foolishness.

Online