Tom Ellis TOM ELLIS

No time for petty politics

COMMENT

TAGS: Politics, Defense

When it comes to issues of national security, a country needs to present a united front, and right now this is seriously lacking here in Greece.

In the face of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s increasingly belligerent behavior, Greece’s political leadership needs to talk and reach some form of consensus.

We simply cannot have an opposition MP say that he believes the Turkish president more than he does the Greek prime minister, whoever the latter may be.

We cannot have a Greek politician saying that the premier does not sincerely care about getting the two Greek soldiers currently detained in Turkey back home. 

When you have the unpredictable autocratic leader of the neighboring country saying that the Greeks jumped into the sea to escape being salted like fish in the Asia Minor Disaster, when his bellicose adviser threatens to break the legs of anyone who dares set foot on the Imia islets and describes Greece as a fly, then the Greek political leaders cannot be at war with each other regarding relations with Turkey.

They just don’t have that luxury.

Obviously there have been mistakes, and there have been some unfortunate statements and moves, most notably by Defense Minister Panos Kammenos.

There is also the government’s wrong approach on the name issue with Skopje, aimed mainly at driving a wedge into the ranks of the main opposition party, conservative New Democracy, when what it should be doing instead is trying to create a solid and indivisible national front in support of a solution that will safeguard the nation’s long-term interests, not the party’s short-term ambitions. 

In this regard, Monday’s meeting between Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and centrist To Potami chief Stavros Theodorakis – where, among other issues, they discussed the latter’s proposal for the creation of a national security council, something that ND has already argued in favor of – was long overdue.

Of course To Potami had submitted a legislative proposal to this end back in December 2016, but the prime minister didn’t pay any attention then. Now he appears open to the proposal because of all the different fronts he’s battling. Even so, the council is something that needs to happen. 

Greece’s relationship with Turkey is taking on existential characteristics and beyond politicians keeping a cool head and improving the country’s defense capabilities, what is needed is a long-term strategy that goes beyond different parties and governments, and draws on expertise and wisdom from across the political spectrum. 

Both the government and the opposition have a responsibility here and they should step up and do what’s needed.

They can disagree on social security contributions and tax rates, or on the roles of the public and private sectors, but they cannot disagree on Greece’s stance toward Turkey.

It’s as simple as that.

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