Swagger and gamesmanship


In the fluid period we live in, with an increasingly aggressive and unpredictable neighbor, one would expect the government to function carefully, to work out where the country stands in terms of strengths and alliances in the current balance. We would expect it to exhaust every method of diplomacy to show that it remains calm but ready, that its political parties are in unison, that its leadership is determined and in control. Turkey is in the whirlwind of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s referendum (on April 16), which has created so many dangerous variables that any neighbor would be wise to avoid becoming part of the problem – while preparing for all possibilities.

The pompous statements, the swagger against Turkey, the clever predictions of what may occur, are no use. All they achieve is to unite (to the degree that this is still possible) our deeply divided neighbor. When the aggressive eruptions are from people who devoted themselves like few others to creating division in Greece, it is clear that the situation becomes more dangerous. The answer to President Erdogan and the Grey Wolves is to isolate Turkey by example, not become tangled in the dispute. Because it is Turkey which has the opportunity and the motive to embroil Greece in dangerous adventures. But when politicians have built their careers on hyperbole, it is unnatural to expect them to handle issues that are complicated and dangerous.

Past victories encourage all kinds of irresponsible people who think that these were granted to the Greeks because they were better, more beautiful, more deserving than their enemies – just as these politicians see themselves. They don’t recall that the same good, beautiful and deserving nation suffered defeats when its leaders misread the international balance of power and overestimated the country’s strengths, when they were swept away by the flow of things rather than making the necessary preparations – or, simply, when luck was against them.

Whoever is in a position of great responsibility ought to respect those who depend on his actions and words – whether this be the people or the armed forces or a friendly country. Cyprus, for example, which is recovering from a serious economic crisis caused by Greece and is at a critical point in settlement talks, cannot afford to be caught up in such rhetoric. When Athens’s moves are not devoted to showing the international community and Ankara that Greece will not be tricked into playing Turkey’s game, it will be led to a battlefield that it does not control, where the slightest trouble will benefit only Turkey.

Turkey has Erdogan and the Grey Wolves. We need not try to emulate them. Greece must show in every way, every day, that it is serious, organized, European. The prime minister, however, must ask himself: After the economic deluge that followed Varoufakis’s game theory, can we afford more games and irresponsibility?