Elias Maglinis ELIAS MAGLINIS

Allies and fantasies

COMMENT

TAGS: Politics, History

Some Greeks have this persisting fantasy that Orthodox Russia will always be on Greece’s side. It is a very convenient fantasy that is exclusively based on the two countries’ shared religious tradition. It is, of course, a fallacy. 

Even Turkey’s decision to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque did not seem to move officials in Moscow. President Vladimir Putin might have said that the move had sparked an outcry in his country, but the official reaction, in the words of Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin, was that “this is Turkey’s domestic matter, which neither us nor anyone else should meddle in.” The Russians, in other words, chose to duck the issue.

In the inevitably wild world of geopolitical interests, religious dogmas and ideological credos go out of the window.

The current alignment between Turkey and Russia in the Mediterranean crisis appears to have catapulted old alliances back into the limelight. The agreement between Mustafa Kemal and the Russian Bolsheviks in the midst of the Greek-Turkish war in 1919-22, ensuring weapons and other supplies for Kemal’s army, was one of the factors that led to the Greek defeat. (To be sure, the Greeks did everything they could to lose the war, or at least did so after 1921.)

Another example was cooperation between the Soviet Union and Kemalist Turkey in the fragmentation of Armenia. Fast-forward to today – it feels like we are watching the same story as “fierce clashes” between Armenia and Azerbaijan inside the ethnic Armenian mountain enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh have (according to Kathimerini’s report) “fueled international concerns about the prospect of an open war in the southern Caucasus, with the involvement of Turkey and Russia.” 

When in 1917 the numerous testimonies about the Armenian genocide started reaching the United States of Woodrow Wilson, the then president under strong pressure from the shocked American public mulled the prospect of a military intervention in Turkey in order to halt the atrocities or, even, a punitive campaign (after all, the crime had already been committed). 

Absolutely nothing happened, of course. Kemal’s rise to power in 1922 and, more importantly, the question of oil control in the Middle East, led to a complete policy change on the part of the West. Armenia was left to its fate. 

We have said it many times before: Greece has a hostile neighbor which is superior in terms of military force. However, Greece has its own strong alliances – which have nothing to do with religious dogmas. Enough with these fantasies.

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