Threat of war and the EU

Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis’s meeting with her Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul and the confidence-building measures they signed last Saturday naturally had no immediate effects. On Tuesday Turkish fighters planes violated Greek air space over the Aegean 12 times and the Turkish coast guard approached the island of Imia. Yesterday in Ankara Foreign Ministry official Namik Tan said Turkey was considering asking Greece for compensation for the crash of the Turkish plane in the Aegean which led to the death of Greek pilot Costas Iliakis. Nobody wants to criticize Bakoyannis for signing some agreements with her counterpart in Istanbul. But it would be wise if, in addition to the smiles, the illusion of high diplomacy and the advice to journalists to avoid exaggeration, there was also a serious evaluation of the outcome of Greek policy on Turkey. The Greek government’s decisions should be re-examined at the European Union level. Greek interventions at the EU are usually confined to the support Athens offers Nicosia, though recently there have been some cracks in Greece-Cyprus collaboration. The Republic of Cyprus keeps reminding its unwilling partners how absurd it is that Turkey is negotiating its accession to the EU without recognizing one of its members. Greece seems unperturbed that it is fully supporting Turkey’s EU prospects when the latter has not retracted the threat of war if Greece exercises its legal right to extend its territorial waters. It is very bad for Greek prestige if Turkey maintains the threat of war and the Greek government does not even broach with the EU the subject of Ankara’s unacceptable behavior, which is also a slur on the entire organization.

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