The EU card is no more

Greece and Turkey are currently spinning in different orbits. Athens has entered a phase of navel-gazing, flirting with political instability. Confidence is running at a low. Turkey, on the other hand, is behaving as a middle-sized, if not big, power as it tries to resolve a number of long-standing problems, such as the Armenia and Kurdish issues. Ahmet Davutoglu, its new foreign minister, is trying to transform Turkey into a key geopolitical player. Normally, all this should not be of immediate concern to Greece, as Turkey’s size and opportunities are on an entirely different level. On the other hand, historical experience suggests that a segment of the so-called «deep state» has sought to exploit political uncertainty in Greece to put pressure on Athens. It did so in 1955 with an ailing Alexandros Papagos, in 1974, and in 1996 during the power vacuum until Costas Simitis asserted full control. At the same time, the European card, so to speak, is losing its strength. The establishment in Ankara sees that, given the existing mood across Europe, any hopes of full EU membership are groundless. Greece’s foreign policy, which has so far been planned around the scenario of the EU «carrot,» is now up in the air. But it’s far from clear what other options are now available to put pressure on Turkey. Ankara believes that time in bilateral relations is on its side. It is organized and patient, putting forward its demands while, at the same time, trying to assert its hegemony in the Aegean Sea. An escalation of tension, so far manageable, should not be ruled out. Greece’s political parties must join hands to steer clear of the pitfalls. Above all, they must tackle the huge domestic issues that make us look small in the eyes of our rivals. Greece’s biggest challenges are domestic. We must put our own house in order before worrying about our neighbors.