Babis Papadimitriou BABIS PAPADIMITRIOU

Kammenos needs to go

COMMENT

TAGS: Turkey, Diplomacy, Politics

There will be no war with Turkey. There is no objective reason for this. Only an error in the handling of the constantly changing but always high diplomatic tension between Turkey and (virtually all) its neighbors could lead to an incident similar to the Imia standoff of 1996.

In the meantime, however, Turkey is at war. There’s the domestic one, as, after surviving the coup attempt staged by his former political allies in July 2016, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched a purge of the public administration, the armed forces and the judiciary. At the same time, the Turkish strongman has sent thousands of journalists and businesspeople to jail.

Meanwhile, a civil war rages against Turkey’s Kurdish population – a campaign which is of course related to the so-called war on terror. Using the war on terror as a pretext, Erdogan is engaged in a regional war beyond the country’s borders. Turkey has bombed what it says are Kurdish militia targets inside Iraq while continuing its military operations inside Syria.

In the case of Greece, the Turkish establishment is waging a war of words. Erdogan has also embarked on a war of words with Israel. He labeled Benjamin Netanyahu a “terrorist” over the Israeli army’s killing of Palestinian protesters in Gaza, to which the Israeli prime minister responded by rejecting Ankara’s “moral lessons.” “Someone who occupies northern Cyprus, invades the Kurdish regions, and slaughters civilians in Afrin should not preach to us about values and ethics,” Netanyahu said.

The real danger is that with every passing day, because of poor government handling, Greece’s fate is increasingly linked to what happens to Erdogan and his establishment. It began with the Turkish president’s official visit to Athens. His meeting with Prokopis Pavlopoulos at the Presidential Mansion marked the beginning of a verbal spat which continued at the prime minister’s office.

The Tsipras administration bears huge political responsibility for the dire state of diplomatic ties with Turkey. Athens ought to have ensured serious trade-offs before inviting the Turkish president to visit the only European capital willing to host him.

Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, also leader of the junior coalition party Independent Greeks, had admittedly read the risk. However, he himself soon became the No 1 threat to the country. During Erdogan’s visit, Kammenos turned into a human bomb ready to explode in the hands of the prime minister. In light of ensuing developments, it is a matter of national responsibility that Tsipras rids the administration of his unacceptable partner.

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