Business and war

The political turmoil touched off by former president Costis Stephanopoulos’s article in Kathimerini will not die down anytime soon. Just as in previous turning points in Greek foreign policy, supporters of a tougher or more conciliatory stance toward our neighbor to the east can be found in both mainstream parties. Some analysts are unjustifiably upbeat, drawing their optimism from two developments: first, the warming of bilateral economic ties foreshadowed by the purchase of Turkey’s Finansbank by Greece’s National Bank and, secondly, from Ankara’s European Union ambitions. Certainly, the «make business not war» argument is realistic but it does have its limits. Otherwise, the wars between France and Germany, Russia and Poland, India and Pakistan would not have occurred. Mercury (the god of commerce) and Mars (the god of war) both cherish good neighborly relations. A look at recent history shows that during WWII, Ford and Goodyear made business deals with the German military, while Siemens and IGFarben operated in the US. As for Greece’s support for Turkey’s European course, it’s far from certain that it will prove to be of any future use. Given the skeptical mood in most European countries, particularly Germany and France, it seems unlikely that Turkey will actually join the EU as a full member. The European Commission report on Turkey due for release in October will be a crucial turning point. If it is a cold shower for Turkey, Ankara might withdraw its application to join the bloc. What will Greece’s reaction be to such a development, which would make the so-called Helsinki strategy redundant? The political parties should thank Stephanopoulos for triggering an extremely timely and useful debate. But there is no reason to believe that the case will close anytime soon.

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