A ‘linguistically dead’ Alliance?

A ‘linguistically dead’ Alliance?

No Greek takes any pleasure in listening to Jens Stoltenberg. It’s not his accent they object to, but his mollycoddling of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over, for example, Finland’s and Sweden’s accession to the Alliance. Just recently, the secretary-general of NATO referred to Turkey as a “reliable ally.” One can only wonder what else Turkey would get up to if it weren’t so reliable.

But what incenses the Greeks even more than that is the neutrality of the rhetoric concerning our turbulent relationship with our neighbor. As one of Greece’s former foreign ministers, Petros Molyviatis, recently commented in a letter to Kathimerini, such rhetoric is designed to ostensibly give the impression of maintaining an equal distance between the two sides, when, in fact, it is completely unacceptable because it favors “the aggressor to the detriment of the victim, and [is] ultimately detrimental to the Alliance.”

Of course, there is nothing new about such anger or reactions to NATO’s pro-Turkish neutrality. We’ve always been annoyed by the Alliance’s secretaries-general, especially at times of heightened tension with Turkey. Joseph Luns (1971-84) of the Netherlands was not spared Greek ire, nor was his British successor Peter Carrington (1984-88). Few remember the anger directed at Denmark’s Anders Fogh Rasmussen (2009-14) over certain defense plans in the Aegean, while Spain’s Javier Solana (1995-99) was treated to an incredibly vulgar nickname over his stance on the war in Yugoslavia.

We have been getting angry at the heads of NATO ever since 1974, but thankfully the craziness of the early Metapolitefsi years is over; just imagine what would happen if we left NATO and Turkey stayed. It was this anger that Molyviatis was expressing. The only problem was the premise of his argument for that anger. If, as the former minister wrote, the secretary-general of NATO is “an employee of the governments that appoint him and pay his salary from the money of their taxpayers… and does not express positions without their approval,” then Stoltenberg is equally an “employee” of Erdogan’s – if not even more so, given that Turkey is a “bigger boss” in the Alliance than Greece because of its size.

French President Emmanuel Macron recently accused NATO of being “brain dead.” Molyviatis asks that it becomes “linguistically dead” too, arguing that the best Stoltenberg could do is remain silent until his term comes to an end. But how would his staying silent serve us? After all, silence is the quintessential tactic of keeping equal distances. Would it enrage us less?

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Enter your information below to receive our weekly newsletters with the latest insights, opinion pieces and current events straight to your inbox.

By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.