In the last 47 years, there have been moments in the history of Greek-Turkish relations during which a decent and honest arrangement could have been made. This did not happen and the historians of the future will judge why. Today, however, resolving this Gordian knot is almost impossible. The relationship has been poisoned for good.
But something else has happened too. Turkey is constantly adding issues to the agenda or emphasizing others in a much more intense way than the past. A classic example is the so-called “gray zones” theory in the Aegean. Many believed that it was a negotiating card that the Turks had added at some point to remove it before the final negotiation. But the card remained on the table and today remains one of the biggest thorns in bilateral relations.
All these years Greek diplomacy has shown a “responsible” attitude, avoiding raising its own claims. “For God’s sake, do not show this map” and “No, let’s not irk them by raising this issue” were the phrases you heard when you asked the question, “Are we too prim and proper?” In some cases, proponents of this policy were right, because any claims would have to have a legal base and not appear ludicrous when presented in international forums.
Turkey, however, does not care much today how others see its escalating demands. And that is why it’s time to get over our self-reserve. I do not mean that we should switch to grandstanding and pompous statements that usually aim at self-promotion and not defense of the national interest. But our experts should sit down and comb through every bilateral issue, every treaty that concerns us, to find out what issues Greece can raise against Turkey and what unenforceable rights are made available in the international treaties. This should be done responsibly and systematically.