OPINION

Beyond the EU remit

Turkey’s recent provocative behavior in the Aegean was hardly a surprise. On the contrary, it was to be anticipated as there is no way that Ankara would want to create the impression that the forthcoming launch of accession talks with the European Union means that it is abandoning its ongoing claims against Greece. Irrespective of certain public claims, Greek politicians are not so naive as to believe that Turkey’s course toward Europe would provoke radical changes in the country’s policy toward Greece. But it was regarded as necessary to explain to the public that Greece’s two main political parties had deemed it wise to support Turkey’s European orientation, either due to strong pressure from the USA and other EU states or because the parties themselves were convinced that it was in Greece’s long-term benefit to take this course of action. The government came under strong criticism for agreeing to grant a date for EU accession talks to Turkey without Ankara having withdrawn its threat of war in the case of Greece extending its territorial waters and without having obliged Turkey to agree upon a time frame for solving their differences… Essentially, however, the chief problem in Greek-Turkish relations lies beyond the remit of the EU and has to do with the fact that the strategic significance of this Muslim country is regarded by international powers as overwhelmingly superior to that of Greece…