Letters to the Editor

There are three points that should be stressed with regard to Turkish expansionism and Greek policies that, to the best of my knowledge, have not been mentioned by analysts: First, the inability of Greece to respond to the invasion of Cyprus in 1974 led the Turks to conclude that Greece was unable to defend its interests by using force. Today, this is still an issue, especially since there is a deep rift in Greek attitudes that evolved from the profound damage that the military junta had on the national psyche. On the one hand, there is rampant internationalism which is misapplied to Greece’s foreign policy and has paralyzing effects, as demonstrated in Greece’s response to the 1996 Imia crisis. On the other hand, there are «hawkish» voices that tend to disregard geostrategic power balances in the region and which tend to favor Turkish policies. In short, geostrategically the southern flank of NATO is considered a single entity. Therefore the presence of two states in this «real estate» inevitably leads to a clash of interests. So far – in foreign eyes – Greece appears unwilling or unable to exercise sovereignty over its territory. Slowly yielding to Turkish demands is appeasement brought to new heights. This, in my opinion, is a critical issue since NATO will tend to favor the party perceived to be stronger. Moreover, the confused reactions of Greek politicians following the recent incident in the Aegean – its pinnacle being [ex-president Costis] Stephanopoulos’s letter, which, astonishingly, lacks clarity and logical cohesion – is proof that Turkey’s tactics work and not Greece’s. The constant appeal by Greek politicians to «good-neighborly» relations only adds to the erosion of credibility of Greece as a serious state. Instead of begging for «good-neighborly behavior,» next time Greece should enforce international law. Chasing Turkish jets works against Greek interests in the long term. The proverbial carrot is now eaten by Turkey (its claims are perceived as legitimate disputes in the Aegean) and there is no (strategic) stick (how can Greece back Ankara’s EU bid while complaining about Turkish aggression?). NIKOS PAPANIKOLAOU, New York. I am curious about the legalities of Turkey’s contention that Greece’s continental shelf should end halfway across the Aegean, placing Greek islands in the eastern Aegean under Turkish jurisdiction. If this concept were to be legitimized by the world court, it could mean that many island nations around the world might be considered the property of other nations merely because of geographic location – without regard to ethnicity, culture and history. Also, using this same standard, would this mean that half of Istanbul and all the Turkish territory to the Evros should be under Greek control, as this is clearly on the European continental shelf? DUANE WARREN, Seattle, Washington. Mr S. Anil, a Turk who takes time to read Kathimerini English Edition on the Internet, very wisely advises against overblowing the recent air incident over the Aegean Sea (Careless reports on jet collision, May 31) The vast majority of both Turks and Greeks wish to live together in neighborly peace and friendship. Mr Anil, however, does not examine the root of the perennially tense situation in the Aegean. Turkey refuses to abide with the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) international rules of notifying the country to which the particular air space has been allocated whenever it intends to make use of this air space. Turkey for many years now refuses to accept any international law when it applies to the sea and air space of the Aegean. It accepts international law when it applies to Turkish boundaries but disputes it when it applies to Greece! To avoid embarrassment, Turkey says it advises NATO, but NATO does not and cannot regulate traffic over the Aegean! Turkey’s attitude is «We have equal rights over the Aegean. Why should we notify FIR Athens?» But sending armed war planes on a daily basis, without a flight plan, in a space densely criss-crossed by commercial flights can strain anyone’s patience. I.A. KANELLIDES, Kifissia, Athens.