No sense of mission

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis last week to discuss Turkey’s EU prospects, ahead of the European Council meeting in December. No statement was made to the press. After all, the premier recently laid out Greece’s position on Turkey in Parliament. The Turkish side has been more eloquent. It was no coincidence that Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul visited the breakaway state, where he said, «We won’t give in to blackmail in the same way that we did not give in to blackmail in the past.» The Turkish reaction was to be expected. A month before the council meeting, some officials are worried over the repercussions of a possible derailment. They predict tension in the Aegean Sea, perhaps even a crisis, as if Turkey’s establishment comprises unwise people who will run for their guns if the new chapters on Turkey’s membership are held back for a year or so. Fortunately, Turkish generals are wiser than the concerned politicians, commentators and analysts in Greece, who hate to leave foreign policy issues unresolved and who act like that small-town tradesman who strives to close his books at the end of the year. The Turkish elite is in no rush for it has a sense of mission and continuity. Ankara has managed the unthinkable by starting negotiations with the club of the most advanced European states without having first recognized one of its full members, Cyprus. Ankara will dig in its heels and leave it to the Europeans to try and save the pretexts without alienating Turkey from the bloc. Many in Greece have lost the psychological war before even the first sign of tension. No surprise here. Foreign policy presupposes the existence of a ruling elite, an establishment with a sense of mission and continuity that Greece, unlike Turkey, no longer possesses.

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