Playing a risky game with Turkey

Greece has been offering its wholehearted support to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. This gives rise to a very interesting, but unanswerable, question: Why should Greece decide to support one side or another during Turkey’s pre-electoral countdown? First of all, Athens is effectively legitimizing a reciprocal move: Ankara will no doubt make its stance clear in the runup to Greek elections, as it did when Germans went to the polls. Moreover, by positioning itself alongside Erdogan – without having secured anything in return – Greece is essentially placing itself opposite the «other side» – which not only includes the so-called «deep state» but also several million Turks who have been thronging the streets over the past few weeks to defend the secularism of the modern Turkish state. Why should Greece be «Erdogan’s friend» in all these people’s eyes? If tomorrow, these secular forces are in power – or even to all intents and purposes – how will they evaluate Greece’s current stance? And if the deep state ends up being what it is purported to be, namely the real power in Turkey, then surely the advancement of Greek-Turkish relations lies in its hands? If this is indeed the case, then a possible conflict between Greece and Turkey would not be in Erdogan’s power to either provoke or avert. One must also consider the most recent developments. Turkey’s foreign ministry last week questioned the historic veracity of the World War One massacre of Pontic Greeks. In view of this, one can only be fearful of developments if Erdogan’s government were to take full power in Turkey. Are we not satisfied with him being prime minister? Do we want him to have responsibility for Turkey’s arms too? Perhaps we are supporting Erdogan because he is the most «European» power in Turkey? But it appears increasingly unlikely that Turkey will join the European Union. However much Athens may persist, this prospect basically ended in Paris, and not just there. But why has Erdogan not railed against French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his opposition to Turkey joining the EU? Perhaps he realized that tough talking would in no way influence developments. Or perhaps his only interest in Ankara’s EU bid was to undermine the country’s internal political system for his own benefit. But even if one accepts that Erdogan does not have a secret Muslim agenda for Turkey, what is more likely: Turkey becoming a new Iran while it is still secular or something much worse if the Islamists get the upper hand? Perhaps we should not be taking sides at all. From total passivity, we have now decided to become involved in an extremely dangerous international game, when we don’t even know what we want. Shouldn’t we just leave well enough alone?