Turkey in crisis

Turkey is embroiled in a crisis that will inevitably impact on Greek interests. In the past, most Greeks rather simplistically believed that the worse things were for Turkey, the better for Greece. We finally exchanged this zero-sum game principle for a more cool-headed outlook although we never really got on with Ankara. Ice might melt and freeze again but even relatively simple issues like the opening of an Orthodox seminary in Chalki or permission for building a Greek embassy in Ankara remain unresolved. Turkey is going through its own 1965 or its own 1985. One scenario is that the army will do the same as King Constantine in July 1965, triggering a fierce tug-of-war over who controls the state. They could actually win, sending Recep Tayyip Erdogan home or to jail. But they stand to lose in the long term, for the Turkish public is increasingly disinclined toward military interference. Perhaps the military is weaker than we think and they’re going through their own 1985. What happened then? Andreas Papandreou, prime minister at the time, pulled the rug from under the feet of then-president Constantine Karamanlis, sending the very clear message: «I’m in control of the state.» Turkey’s deep state, looking very much like the monarchy in 1960s Greece, is waging a battle for survival. Defeat would mark the end of its special privileges. Victory would simply prolong Turkey’s crisis. There is very little Greece can do apart from not succumbing to the first Turkish provocation. The more cynical and experienced argue that it’s better to talk to a military man who knows what war really means than to a politician seeking to score points. Whoever is dreaming of a great compromise should visit the psychiatrist called history, just as many other Greeks wishing to come to terms with Turkey did in the past.