Costas Iordanidis COSTAS IORDANIDIS

An important visit

COMMENT

TAGS: Diplomacy, Turkey, Politics

It is clear in the thorough and extremely interesting interview of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Skai television and in Kathimerini that Ankara’s positions on the substantial issues dividing the two countries have not changed and for this reason no progress is expected.

Erdogan’s talk about the need for the Lausanne Treaty to be “updated” will trigger reactions, even though the fact that the agreement was signed by a host of countries renders this unfeasible.

This so-called “update” of certain parts of the treaty would only be possible if Turkey becomes a member of the European Union and it would have to be based on European law. But we are a long way from that yet.

This does not mean that the Turkish president’s visit to Athens on Thursday has no importance attached to it. Far from it.

Given the current situation and the blazing region of the eastern Mediterranean where unorthodox convergences are being promoted, the visit should and must contribute to the stability and security of the two countries.

It’s interesting that Erdogan referred to the constant violations of Greek air space by Turkish jets and thought it necessary to say during the interview he gave to Alexis Papachelas that “the pilots are young and excited” and that their commanding officers warned them to “be careful.”

Of course it remains to be seen if the wish he made that from now on we won’t have to live through such violations of the national air space actually materializes.

The decision by Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos to invite his Turkish counterpart was correct and appropriate.

There are of course those who cite the crisis in European-Turkish relations to express reservations about the purpose of Erdogan’s presence in Athens. Others have put forward the need for Greece to secure something in exchange as it gives the Turkish president a European stage at a time during which he is, diplomatically speaking, completely isolated. Everyone has differing opinions.

The European Union and its accomplishments are, of course, marvelous. But when the Imia crisis erupted in 1996, the absence of the EU and the Commission, which by default of the system has a position on all matters, was glaring and the situation was only defused thanks to the intervention of the United States.

Greece has the same interests to protect and for this reason the Turkish president’s visit is welcome.

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