Tactful reactions?

“Some actions by the Turkish air force conflict with the aim of strengthening ties between Turkey and the European Union,» Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis remarked earlier this week at an EU meeting in Strasbourg. How tactful, Mr Yiannitsis, this reference to Turkish «actions» in the Aegean! However, as these «actions» are very dangerous, as they are being carried out with the full backing of Turkey’s defense minister and its armed forces chief, and as the good-natured, optimistic outlook of Greece’s Foreign Minister George Papandreou does little to dilute Turkey’s threat in the Aegean – for all these reasons, our Defense Ministry has put its air force on standby – in fact on a «high state of readiness» – all across the Aegean, in view of Turkish exercises currently under way. (It is no longer news, of course, that 38 Turkish fighter jets conducted 25 violations of Greek air space earlier this week, their «actions» provoking nine simulated dogfights.) Meanwhile reports say that Turkish forces are currently «upgrading» the Cypriot village of Strovilia – a UN-monitored site where Turkish-Cypriot forces started increasing their presence a couple of years ago, obliging the few remaining Greek Cypriots to leave. In Nicosia this is regarded as a serious development, but these Turkish «actions» in Strovilia have caused no waves in Athens. As we know, the priority of Simitis’s leadership is to avoid creating «tensions» with Turkey…

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