Ex-PM Karamanlis says EU must take initiative for swift end to Ukraine war

Ex-PM Karamanlis says EU must take initiative for swift end to Ukraine war

In a rare public speech Wednesday, former Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis denounced the Russian aggression in Ukraine, as well as Turkey’s aggressive regional posture.

Speaking at an event organized by women’s NGO Panathinaiki on the theme “Greece and Europe in the vortex of great changes,” the former (2004-9) PM said Turkey has chosen to play the regional troublemaker and chided those who continue to treat Greece and Turkey the same. Everyone understood he was referring to the EU and the US. 

Karamanlis also said that compromising with Turkey and admitting to debate its demands should not be on the cards, although he hastened to note that this was not a dig at anyone’s patriotism.

Karamanlis said the only differences to be discussed with Turkey and taken to the International Court in Hague concern the delimitation of exclusive economic zones and the continental shelf. 

Karamanlis said Turkey is a revisionist country, trying to overlook international treaties in order to become the hegemonic power in the region. He cited as proof Turkey’s military involvement in Iraq, Syria, the Caucasus and Libya, its meddling into the internal affairs of Balkan countries with Muslim populations and its questioning of longstanding treaties defining borders as well as the Law of the Sea.

In light of these actions, Karamanlis said, it is unacceptable to hold that somehow Greece and Turkey share responsibility for present tensions.

On Ukraine, Karamanlis said Russia’s invasion is an “illegal, unacceptable and condemnable” action that tramples on international law and noted parallels with Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus, which was never condemned in a similarly strong fashion. But he cautioned that a long war risked pitting the west against an anti-western coalition, that, besides Russia and China, could include countries such as India and other “middle [powers] or rising actors… Such a convergence…would be an enormous challenge for the West and would portend tectonic changing in the currently acceptable rules of the game and unfathomable consequences,” he warned.

Karamanlis focused quite a bit on the many economic consequences of the Ukraine war, noting, for example, that Egypt is dependent on Ukraine for a lot of its staple foods. He also argued for a longer-term process of weaning off from Russian oil and natural gas.

Karamanlis said the EU should take the initiative to conclude the war in Ukraine the soonest possible, noting that he doubted the US has equally strong incentives to do so. 

Karamanlis called for a faster political and defensive European unification to deal with geopolitical challenges and overcome the “weaknesses bequeathed by the untimely and hasty” 2004 expansion, when eight Eastern European countries, along with Malta and Cyprus, joined the EU.

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