OPINION

Exploratory talks, support and objections

exploratory-talks-support-and-objections

In his recent interview with Kathimerini, former prime minister Antonis Samaras put forward a number of arguments concerning the exploratory contacts between Greece and Turkey and shed light on an important aspect of the issue by expressing the belief – shared by a part of Greek society and certainly by a large part of the ruling center-right party – that it is not in Greece’s interest to negotiate with Turkey, especially given the latter’s current behavior.

This should be seen as another piece of the complex puzzle of Greek-Turkish relations that needs to be heeded by the international community, which encourages dialogue – as it ought to – but also tends to take Greece somewhat for granted.

That there are reactions to such overtures inside Greece is something that the European Union especially must bear in mind, given its particular role in Greek-Turkish relations – mainly because Greece’s and Cyprus’ membership of the EU automatically transfers any problems into the Euro-Turkish arena at a point in time when Ankara is seeking closer economic and commercial ties with Brussels.

This writer does not agree with the former prime minister in this respect and is among those – the majority of opinion shapers – who support dialogue with Turkey, knowing that this perforce also entails compromise, on the condition, of course, that this is in accordance with international law. At the same time he agrees – as does almost everyone dealing with these issues in Greece – that Athens cannot discuss its sovereignty nor how it will protect its islands from an evidently real and escalating threat.

Lastly, even if someone disagrees with Samaras about the exploratory talks, they cannot but agree with his observation that the EU did not stand by its two member-states to the extent and with the forcefulness it should have against Turkish threats. After all, it is Brussels itself that has repeatedly demanded that Ankara desist.

And one can only agree that it is unconscionable that certain fellow EU member-states continue to arm Turkey when the latter is threatening two of their peers.

The Samaras interview highlighted the fact that there are reactions within Greece and opposition to efforts to find common ground with our neighbor. That said, successive Greek prime ministers, across the ideological spectrum, have for decades now chosen the path of prudence and moderation, have stated their support for a structured dialogue and have sincerely sought a peaceful coexistence with Turkey. And this is a reality that must be acknowledged by one and all.