Greece must drop its delusions

Media reports about Turkey’s national security dogma underscore that Ankara will not yield an inch on its longstanding claims over the Aegean Sea and Cyprus. In fact, Turkish intransigence has intensified. The Turkish establishment refuses to tone down its rhetoric. The recent leaks allow the conclusion that certain circles are sending a message not only to Athens and Nicosia but also to the EU. A number of recent events have reinforced the feeling. National air-space violations have become more aggressive. So has pressure on the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul. The statements by Turkish officials on the occasion of the proclamation of the breakaway state on northern Cyprus were provocative. Everything seems to point to the fact that Ankara has decided to entrench itself in its fixed positions. Athens need to shed past illusions and take a sober look at events. So far, Greece’s active support for Turkey’s EU ambitions has yielded no positive results. The truth is, Ankara never kept its intentions secret. And it cannot be held responsible if the Greek politicians have for years nourished expectations that have not been borne out. Again, it is Greek politicians who are responsible for the fact that the country has failed to capitalize on the mammoth security spending to safeguard the nation or to hammer out a more effective foreign policy. These events forced Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to postpone his visit to the neighboring country. An official visit only makes sense if prior diplomatic preparations guarantee tangible progress. But there is no evidence to back this up – quite the opposite, actually. In light of current circumstances, Athens has no reason to take any initiative at the bilateral level. Greece should instead await developments in Ankara’s EU membership negotiations. During the process, Greece will have a chance to raise issues of interest to this country. That is the only way to make Turkey face up to its internal contradictions and prove in practice whether it is willing to observe good-neighborly relations with an existing member state. But these cannot just happen on their own. Greek foreign policy makers must hammer out a comprehensive action plan with clear goals and contingency plans – something which doesn’t seem to be the case right now.

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