Turks’ Trojan horse

Repeated violations, last week, of Greek air space and territorial waters by Turkish fighter jets and coast guard vessels (which sailed near the Imia islets) were a loud signal that Ankara’s policy is hardly influenced by the dictates of the political value system of the European Union – on whose door Ankara has been knocking for decades. Turkey’s aspirations in the Aegean, in violation of international law and past treaties, persist unaffected by the purported rapprochement of the past few years. Ankara’s unchanged provocative activity in the Aegean Sea and its military’s continued presence on the island of Cyprus appear to be solid pillars of Turkish foreign policy, regardless of government changeovers and geostrategic changes in the broader region. Turkey’s thirsty aggressiveness also seems to be founded on the knowledge that the EU has no intention of stepping into the Greco-Turkish feud over the Aegean Sea or the military occupation of the northern portion of Cyprus. Otherwise, Ankara would have no reason to undermine its path to Europe with actions that are so out of sync with the values and the principles of the 25-member bloc. However, encouraged by inaction on the part of the EU and driven by the conviction that its strategic role will be strengthened by the day, Turkey is behaving as a regional superpower, ignoring the clumsy tools of international law – or imposing its own awkward interpretation on it – thereby also annulling recent good-will gestures toward Greece. Greece’s overture to Turkey was met with a show of military force and thinly-veiled threats. It is obvious that the recent rapprochement between Greece and Turkey, a process that was warmly welcomed by the people on both sides of the Aegean, is being challenged and Greece is certainly not the side to blame. Athens’s overture to its neighbor to the east (note that Greek and Turkish leaders have gone as far as to establish personal ties) has not translated into peaceful coexistence in the Aegean. Moreover, Greece’s discreet, if not evident, backing of Turkey’s EU membership bid – which has become part of Athens’s policy in recent years – appears to be interpreted by Ankara as a sign of Greek weakness. For Athens, that should be a good enough reason to revise its strategy toward Turkey.