Exploiting Turkey’s hostile diplomacy

The Greek governments of the last few years have shaped their relations with Turkey to a great extent on the basis of Ankara’s bid to join the European Union, expressing their support for accession negotiations. And this is quite logical as it follows the country’s official policy line in this area. However, certain circles maintain that Athens should not remain hostage to obsolete outlooks, claiming that it would be better for it to revise its policy as regards Ankara. This is an equally logical stance if we acknowledge the fact that the broader geopolitical area in which Turkey finds itself is rapidly transforming as established balances of power begin to shift. It is true that Turkey – despite facing several serious domestic problems, including the Kurdish and Cyprus problems as well as resurgent nationalism – has been carefully modifying its profile. Its goal is to establish itself as a key regional power that is seeking EU accession with Eastern passion while also pursuing mediating initiatives in the region with British refinement. It is hardly coincidental that on the day after a European Commission report called for candidate state Turkey to acknowledge its role in the Armenian genocide in World War I, Turkey’s Grand National Assembly ignored the anti-Israeli and anti-US domestic climate and approved the mobilization of 1,000 Turkish troops to Lebanon. This was indeed an ambiguous move. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan appeared ready to settle unpaid debts to the EU on the one hand and remind Washington on the other that it was willing to undertake a role of mediation between Lebanon, Syria and Israel. Aggressive diplomacy is one of Turkey’s established techniques that it uses when seeking to make gains on several fronts. It is Greece’s responsibility to observe the activities of its neighbor and use the conclusions it draws to modify its negotiating stance in its favor.