As 2023 is a year of elections in Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, it is useful to remember that we are now experiencing the calm before the storm. However great the tension between parties in each of these countries may seem today, the rivalry will keep intensifying, without any indication that the result of the elections will lead to any kind of normalcy.
If Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan does not win, he will mobilize every means to void the result, as he has already done with national and municipal elections. He will try to repeat the elections while raising the heat on all fronts – domestically and in foreign affairs – in line with his tactic of presenting himself and his followers as perennial victims and at the same time almighty, able to impose their “justice” on any enemy. Recently, as Erdogan has had to overturn his policies towards Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Israel and others, and as his new invasion of Syria has been stymied by US and Russian objections, Greece and Cyprus have emerged as ideal targets for his belligerence.
Whether Erdogan wins or is defeated by the united opposition parties, extreme nationalists will be kingmakers, so the resulting government will continue to project its “patriotism.” With the possible difference that Erdogan’s rivals may not risk relations with the United States to the extent that he does.
In Greece we are shuffling towards a totally superfluous, high-risk political stress test. The “double elections” (first with a simple proportional electoral system, followed by an election providing a bonus for the leading party) will lead to at least a few weeks of uncertainty before a government can be formed. Whether these two elections precede the Turkish ones, coincide with them, or follow them, Greece will be facing an ever more aggressive Turkey at a time when its own political parties will be fighting for dominance or survival. On Cyprus, blessed inertia seems to have replaced any effort to find a viable solution to the island’s problem. And so, Cyprus will remain hostage to Erdogan’s actions, which are leading towards definitive division.
In the general geopolitical uncertainty, we have very little time before the elections to seek unity among ourselves. Unity which, along with vigilance and determination, serves our security.