Contending with an aggressive neighbor

Tuesday’s was a tragic accident which could almost be described as inevitable. However much we may have feared it, we all knew that it would happen some day. The successive flights over the Aegean by Turkish fighter jets, and the subsequently compulsory interceptions by Greek jets, increase the risk of such accidents and, unfortunately, also of an armed confrontation. And Turkey’s persistent military activity along its western border creates the impression that incidents such as Tuesday’s collision will happen again. Our country has proved itself to be a good neighbor. It uses every opportunity to promote Turkey’s bid to join the European Union. In contrast, Turkey makes it clear on a daily basis that it is a dangerous neighbor. Irrespective of the language it may use, the virtually constant sorties by Turkish jets (often armed) are throwing bilateral relations into turmoil. It may be true that these tactics are the product of Turkey’s domestic crisis but this cannot serve as a permanent pretext for Turkey exporting its problems. Turkey’s policy in this area is not only resulting in the loss of lives. It has also resulted in a permanent economic haemorrhage to pay for defense procurements; funds which could have been invested in productive investments on both sides of the Aegean are being wasted on energies that have long been disclaimed by Europe. As a result, we are witnessing a strange phenomenon. As Greece attempts to pull Turkey toward Western Europe, Ankara’s policy – and the drain on economic reserves that it provokes – is dragging both countries toward the backward East. Turkey should realize that Europe is made up of prudent neighbors, countries that are working toward a more productive future. This is Europe’s culture and must be acquired by Turkey if it wants to become a member of the EU.