From deep state to deeper state?

When Turkey’s Islamist-rooted Recep Tayyip Erdogan became prime minister in 2003, many in Greece believed that a new era had dawned for Greek-Turkish relations. The stereotypes which often govern people’s consciousness had, once again, done their job well; they had convinced us that the «good guy» had come along and would change everything for the better, eventually putting the «bad guys» in their place – namely Turkey’s military establishment. Of course all this seems so long ago, almost as if it never happened. Turkey’s Islamic-rooted government has often shown itself to be far more rigid than the so-called «deep state» of the Turkish military. This is reminiscent of something that would be expedient to keep in mind: Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus was not orchestrated by a right-wing general of the deep state but by the late Socialist prime minister Bulent Ecevit. Let’s not kid ourselves. A nation’s actions and bilateral relations are not based on moral principles or domestic democratic considerations but on a range of interests. So now, shortly before the election of a new Turkish president and with tension rising along Turkey’s border with Iraq, we should start thinking seriously – and without resorting to stereotypes – about whether Greece would in fact be better off next to a Turkey in which the traditional deep state is supplanted by an even deeper state. If the so-called Kemalist pashas are gradually replaced by real Islamist pashas who bow to Allah and no one else, would this boost Greek-Turkish relations and security in the region or not? This is the most crucial question for Athens at the present time. Moreover, we often have problems with a Turkey that enjoys American support. But we should prepare ourselves for the contingency of Turkey finding itself positioned opposite the USA one day in the near future. Once upon a time, when our hopes and fears were greater, such an eventuality may have fueled certain ambitions in Athens. But those days are well and truly in the past. Which is probably for the best. Those who believe Greece would gain from a Turkey in which most power – political and military – was in the hands of the «children of Allah,» should reconsider their stance. Particularly as recent developments have shown that the Turkish chief of general staff (the much-maligned General Yasar Buyukanit, who is visiting Greece) is currently Turkey’s most serious and credible interlocutor. If nothing else, Buyukanit has at least kept his word. He pledged to reduce tension in bilateral relations and during the past few months this has indeed been the case. Also, he does not threaten to raise hell if Turkey fails to join the European Union, as the government has constantly done. In view of developments in Turkey’s interior and on its border with Iraq, a new balance of power is clearly forming. The question is: Can we see this or are we blinded by stereotypes?

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