OPINION

Greece’s friendly overtures to Turkey and ‘carrot and stick’ tactics are not working

I would like to point out that – as the article by Mr Costas Iordanidis «An End to Our Illusions» (May 25) observes – there are more and more voices in Greek political circles catching on to the fact that the tactics of «tying up the beast» from the east with EU ropes is not working. They never have, in spite of the illusions of friendship; real friendship will emerge when there is parity in national power. I am one of those who pointed this out a long time ago when it was fashionable to label anyone who disagreed with the Greek elite’s illusions as an «Ellinara» (nationalist). Here’s why: First, the Greeks always gave their trust, so to speak, to Turkey (I guess out of perceived weakness) but trust offered free is never appreciated, either at the personal or broader political level; it is perceived as weakness. And perceptions are (almost) everything in international relations. Trust has to be earned. At the political level, this implies the existence of a power balance which is woefully lacking on the Greek side. I am not surprised by that: The Greeks expect to be rescued by the EU in some messianic way as they had previously expected from the Americans. This simply reflects the absence of vigor within Greek society. Moreover, Greeks have always mixed the «stick and carrot» concept. The carrot offered to Turkey is the «promised land» of the EU paradise. It turns out that the stick is Greece’s threat of withdrawing its support for Turkish rapprochement with the EU. The Turks must be laughing all the way to the EU with this. Plainly, the same thing cannot work as both stick and carrot. Turkish aggression and intransigence continue unabated, and I predict that the closer Turkey gets to the EU the tighter its pinch will be felt by Greece. The real issue is whether the Greeks will realize that there is war – albeit a cold war – over the Aegean and secondly whether they are willing to develop real strategic containment of the «barbarians» from the east. All else are pseudo-dilemmas that obfuscate the real issue, making the aggressor pay a bigger price than its gains by aggression. So far – and correct me if I am wrong – Greek policies have broadly failed. The proof? Well, I would like to know of one, just one, good-will gesture by Turkey for all the (freely) offered friendship. There are none. NIKOS PAPANIKOLAOU, New York.