OPINION

Editorial

Determining the status of the potential operations of a planned EU military force has proved to be an extremely thorny issue for Greece in terms of its national interests. The government has embarked on a hard battle to scotch agreements which are not only provocatively in favor of Turkey but which could also become a source of serious danger to Greek interests in the Aegean Sea and Cyprus. Complex though clear wording, as well as combinations of clauses that are open to conflicting interpretations effectively grant Ankara the right to veto EU operations near Turkish territory or operations which it deems encroach on Turkish interests. This can be deduced from Clause 12 of Turkey’s agreement with the USA and Britain, taken together with clauses 1 and 2. Clause 2 bans the use of the European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP) to stop Turkey if it should have designs on Greece, as it says that under no circumstances and in no type of crisis will the ESDP be used against any ally. Turkey’s excessive demands and Europe’s compliance can both be explained by the nature of the EU force. In fact, this force is not designed to defend EU territory. It is rather a rapid reaction force which can undertake prolonged military operations outside European territory so as to promote European foreign policy via military means. The Middle East is, of course, the most crucial area for this type of operation. However, given the absence of any other European bases there, Turkey is the only pro-Western country in the region which can provide military assets and facilities. This explains Europe’s willingness to satisfy Turkey’s demands despite the fact that Turkey is neither an EU member nor is it expected to become one in the foreseeable future. The situation is further complicated by the fact that the USA perceives Europe’s attempts to form an independent defense force as being against American interests, and is therefore seeking to subordinate the EU force to NATO where US predominance is unchallenged. Hence Washington is using Turkey as a lever to put pressure on the EU, encouraging Ankara’s demands. Greece is therefore faced with a daunting task; nevertheless, it still has to safeguard its sovereign rights within its alliances with other countries.