OPINION

Learning not to take the bait

Anything that protects national interests in an effective way can be defined as being patriotic and this means that sometimes it is more patriotic to keep a low profile rather than to rant about «national rights.» The low-key approach is not impressive, it does not rally the masses, but there are moments when it is necessary. For some time now, a part of the Turkish military has been trying to stir up trouble in the Aegean and, if it succeeds, to establish yet another gray area. The question however is whether Greece will take the bait or face the challenge with cool-headedness and without itself causing tension to escalate. Turkish demands regarding Agathonisi and Farmakonisi are outrageous by any standards, but Greece should continue to regard these islands as it has always done, as though nothing has changed. It should not fall into the trap of heightening tension. For it is a great mistake when serious state officials and others who shape public opinion do precisely this. In recent history Greece almost went to war twice with Turkey because certain people, inside and outside the Greek government, decided to play it tough over the Aegean. The first crisis, in 1987, ended with an agreement according to which Greece could not conduct any exploration outside its territorial waters. The second crisis, over Imia, in 1996, actually led to Greek sovereignty of the islet being questioned. Some will argue that Greece was wrong not to respond with military force, but they should consider where Greece would be today if it had become embroiled in a war with Turkey. A portion of the media is also fanning the flames, even though the actual situation does not merit such hysteria. They would be well advised to better consider sensitive matters pertaining to national security. Greece must not relinquish any of its sovereign rights whatsoever. Right now the best way to defend national interests is by keeping a cool head, a steady tone and a firm stance when necessary behind the scenes.