A review of the country’s economy by the quartet of lenders, beginning negotiations on restructuring the Greek debt, a horrible internal conflict and the overall decomposition of Greece’s political life are clearly of major importance. Nevertheless this has been more or less the case for the last six years and is now being reinforced.
Adding to the gloom is the major geopolitical instability, which is not exclusively due to Russian military activity in Syria. For decades, the Soviet Union’s presence in the Middle East had been discreet, at times strong, with the Arab-Israeli conflict taking on the form of an unofficial battle between the two world superpowers.
Now the major difference is that developing realignments in the region could prove fatal for Turkey. For the first time since the country was incorporated into the North Atlantic alliance, there is a sense of the incompatibility of Ankara’s own interests with the priorities of the West – at least on the tactical level.
The treatment of “Kurdish guerrilla groups” as “allies” by countries implicated in the broadening civil strife in Syria, along with Turkey’s forced abstention from ground operations in Syria, is driving Ankara to the edge.
Domestically, the Kurdish uprising has taken on an unprecedented dimension and is the first time since the fall of the Ottoman Empire that the country is facing such a sharp problem of inner cohesion and security.
On a purely practical level, it is of no importance whether the crisis plaguing countries to the south of Turkey’s borders is due to senseless initiatives by Western countries which would like to redesign the political character of Arab countries in the Middle East. The same applies to unwise moves by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in local and foreign policy. The point is Turkey has never before been so isolated on the international front and faced with such major turmoil on the home front.
The principal danger in this case is the crisis spreading toward Greece. It’s insane to believe that a deepening of the crisis in Turkey would help Greece. Not even NATO would be able to intervene successfully if Turkey ended up losing the plot.
NATO’s involvement in the Aegean is a positive development, as it could prevent a deterioration of Greek-Turkish relations in the face of the refugee issue. But it is not enough. Communication channels with Ankara must be developed or reinforced. Controlled tension in the Aegean should not be exacerbated because of circumstances created by others acting in their own interest. Beyond a broader set of interests, all countries in the region have their own specific interests as well.