Nonchalance or passivity?

A series of Turkish provocations off the Imia islets and elsewhere in the Aegean Sea (two formations of six Turkish jets entered a navy firing range off Andros island) during the recent visit by Greece’s foreign minister to Ankara was an insult to our country and to Petros Molyviatis personally. This space has often praised the low-profile and deft diplomatic tactics of Molyviatis, an experienced diplomat who has always steered clear of sensationalist public relations exercises like dancing to traditional zeibekiko tunes. However, it was stunning to see Molyviatis’s apathy toward Ankara’s violation of Greece’s sovereign and operational rights. An excessive show of nonchalance in politics is invariably taken or assessed as a blatant admission of one’s inability to stand one’s ground. Worse, passivity fuels aggressive behavior in the provocator. If the foreign minister believes that provocations such as the stream of air space violations by Turkish aircraft on Tuesday are not worth mentioning to the press, then it’s hard to see the point of Athens ever lodging complaints with NATO, Washington or the European Union. How can we expect international organizations or foreign governments to protect our national interests when Greece itself does not make the effort? It makes one wonder why Molyviatis consented to barring journalists from asking questions during the joint briefing with Abdullah Gul, thus protecting his Turkish counterpart from inconvenient questions by Greek reporters. These would at least raise crucial bilateral issues and demand an explanation of Ankara’s bad habits. The insult against our country cannot be offset by confidence-building measures (such as cooperation between the two countries’ military disaster response units, holding sports competitions between their military establishments, joint exercises, participation of Turkish and Greek personnel in language courses in military institutions, and the establishment of a hotline between air force command centers). These have secondary political importance. Molyviatis’s was an unfortunate and poorly prepared visit that yielded few results. The country has nothing to gain from anxious efforts to prove its dexterity in foreign affairs.

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