Army and reformists

Those in Athens who, encouraged by the Turkish Parliament’s passing of a package of EU-minded reforms last week, rushed to express their backing for the bill, must have realized that the tug of war between the reformist Islamists and Turkey’s secular establishment has yet to be decided. Going against the tenor of the changes, which allow for the appointment of civilian officials to the post of secretary-general of the National Security Council, the Turkish military picked Sukru Sariisik, a senior general, and sacked 18 soldiers for pro-Islamic activities, in the face of opposition from Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul. Internal developments in Ankara will take their course. Whatever that may be, the Greek government must shed any illusions that it can encourage our eastern neighbor’s reformist tendencies. The fact that Athens’s policy lies within EU contours is no excuse, nor does it offer any security. The 1920 Sevres Treaty was a venerated instrument, but Eleftherios Venizelos’s unilateral attempts to implement it resulted in the reinforcement of Kemal Ataturk and Turkish nationalism, and in the uprooting of Greeks from Asia Minor. Foreign policy does not lend itself to the boosting of a politician’s popularity ratings – a practice which is common in Greece. Nor does Greece have the power to meddle in the domestic developments of a country as big as Turkey – what is more, a country with an establishment that sees itself as having a historical mission. Our national interest mandates self-restraint when it comes to comments on internal developments in Turkey, and more reservations regarding the settling of disputes with Ankara on the basis that Greece, as a member of an all-powerful European Union, has nothing to fear.