OPINION

Spoiling the beast

Greece has been entangled in a fundamental contradiction for a long time. Its tame-the-beast policy, counting on the transformative impact of Turkey’s European Union ambitions, has been adopted by the mainstream political parties. That explains the repeated official confirmations of Greek support for Ankara’s EU bid, even after the recent deadly midair collision off Karpathos. Champions of this strategy hold that Ankara will inevitably be trapped in the process of accession negotiations and will therefore be forced to abandon its expansionist posturing. So far, expectations have not been met, even if Ankara’s stubborn refusal to sign the EU protocol has raised many a European eyebrow. It’s an open secret that some member states, led by France and Austria, have used Ankara’s refusal as a pretext for derailing its membership into a still-to-be-defined special relationship. Athens fears that removing the full-member carrot will alter Turkey’s attitude and downgrade Greek-Turkish disputes on a bilateral level. Athens has so far failed to exploit the good timing to pressure Ankara on issues such as the protocol, let alone the threat of casus belli. Greek concessions to Turkey are dictated by Greece’s phobia of Turkey and willingness to keep Turkey’s EU ambitions alive. However, it is not Greece’s but Turkey’s behavior which will decide its future. Athens has failed to get something in return for its successive concessions. Rather than taming the beast, Greece is actually spoiling it, making it more insolent. The special-relationship scenario has started gaining ground even among Turks. Unlike Athens, Nicosia is already trying to take advantage of the timing to secure the customs union, i.e. de facto recognition.