Turkish officials, and analysts as well, all too often claim that the United States and Europe show too much support for Greece, often at Turkey’s expense, and that their biased stance stokes Greece’s provocative attitude. With persistence and insistence, they have managed to sway Turkish public opinion to this argument, cultivating feelings of injury and injustice.
This is an argument, however, that is built on a deliberate campaign of misinformation. Greece is a full and equal member of the European Union and is, therefore, entitled to the support of its peers. In fact, it has often complained – quite rightly – of not receiving the support it expects, such as when countries like Germany try to maintain a policy of equal distances. It is a stance that may make sense from a negotiation perspective in that it can help make any mediation efforts from Berlin more acceptable to Ankara and, therefore, more effective, yet it undermines the principles of European solidarity.
At the same time, Greece is a reliable ally in a sensitive area for America and this is something given due attention in US power centers. Having gone through a period of vacillation in the early phase after the restoration of democracy, which created some friction with Washington, Athens – across almost the entire political spectrum – has matured geopolitically and maintains a relatively steady approach to its US ties.
This is the case at the purely bilateral level, chiefly centered on defense cooperation, and is augmented by the right partnerships and alliances Greece has built with other countries in the area which have their own strategic ties to the US. The puzzle is completed by the bond traditionally shared between the two countries and the role of the Greek diaspora, whose presence in Congress – which many wish was greater but is nonetheless important – and influence in the US economic and business life bring Greece the corresponding benefits.
Taken in this prism, the Turkish argument of supposed European and American “excessive” support for Greece loses all force. What Ankara simply needs to understand is that when it talks to, argues with or confronts Greece, it is up against a complex equation with many parameters.
Greece has its own distinct economic and political presence and it has its military force, but it also has institutional partnerships and alliances that form a powerful shield and cannot be dismissed by Turkey. It’s as simple as that.
And, of course, Greece is a country that does not cause problems or have expansionist ambitions that could stir trouble in its neighborhood. In this sense, the understanding that it represents a pillar of stability in the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean is no exaggeration; it is simply the factual truth.