Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Sketching out a strategic vision for Greece

Below is an interesting article from the Jerusalem Post I came across today that suggests Israel, spurned by Turkey, is now looking to build strategic relationships with Cyprus, Bulgaria and Romania. There's no mention of Greece, or any effort by Athens to exploit the latest developments, which is a pity since I was interested – though not completely convinced – by the argument put forward by Giorgos Karambelias in the video above against Greek thinkers like Christos Yiannaras who, motivated by a Byzantine distrust of the West, believe Greece should collaborate with a resurgent neo-Ottoman Turkey, and suggesting as an alternative that Greece turns towards the Balkans and forms strategic partnerships with Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia and, ultimately, Russia – all countries with which Greece shares certain cultural characteristics. Of course, Karambelias, still unable to liberate himself from his obsession with the Palestinians, makes no mention of including Israel in this new dynamic, but if Greece shows itself too slow in recognising the potential to thwart Turkey's ambitions in the region by building alliances that stretch from the Eastern Mediterranean to the Balkans, then Israel will not and, again, Greece will be left as a peripheral player.

'Relations with Cyprus never better'

One positive ricochet from the recent tension with Turkey has been an improvement in Israel’s ties with Cyprus, something one senior diplomatic official said has been very helpful in dealing with the issue of boats setting sail for Gaza.

Cyprus could not have “been better” in the aftermath of the Gaza flotilla incident on May 31, when nine people were killed after the IDF stopped a Turkish-flagged boat from breaking the naval blockade of Gaza.

“We would have had many more problems” without the cooperation of Cyprus, the senior official said.

For instance, a week after the incident, the Cyprus-based Free Gaza Movement announced it was leaving for London after the Cyprus government refused to let the organization use its ports as staging points for the Gaza-bound boats.

“Cyprus is not happy to have us here. They are cooperating with the Israelis and we don’t like this,” one of the movement’s heads, Greta Berlin, told the Chinese Xinhua press agency. “It is time for us to go.”

Xinhua quoted the Cyprus government as saying its decision had been taken to protect what it called “vital national interests.” Cyprus has not yet made an official comment on whether it would allow Lebanese boats destined for Gaza to stop there first.

Another diplomatic official said Cypriot cooperation with Israel was less out of a love for Israel than a hatred of Turkey, which has occupied part of the Mediterranean island since 1974.

In January, immediately following Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon’s dressing down of the Turkish ambassador for an anti-Semitic television program, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman went to Cyprus. Since then, there have been a number of high-level visits back and forth, including one here last month by the Cypriot foreign minister.

The senior diplomatic official said the breakdown of relations with Turkey had also led to a strengthening of Israel’s ties with Turkey’s northern neighbor, Bulgaria, as well as with Romania. Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolai Mladenov, who has been characterized in Jerusalem as one of Israel’s best friends among EU foreign ministers, is scheduled to visit here next week.

According to government officials, as Turkey no longer allows the Israel Air Force to train in Turkish airspace, maneuvers may in the future take place over Romania.

Likewise, as tens of thousands of Israeli tourists who in years past have gone to Turkey are now looking for other venues, Israeli travel agents – according to Israeli government officials – are looking to Cyprus, Bulgaria and Romania as possible alternatives, and are eagerly being courted by tourist professionals there.

Another possibility is Malta, to where Lieberman is scheduled to travel on Wednesday. Malta is a small country inside the 27-member EU that has not been known for its sympathies toward Israel, but which Jerusalem is increasingly trying to neutralize as an antagonistic player within various EU forums.


Anonymous said...


Turkey is a player in the area. It can not be ignored. The only way turkey can be stopped is by a combined effort of the orthodox balkans. Israel always fishes in troubled waters. We can not achieve any cooperation in military matters with them. They mind their own business, and play both sides of the field. One might as well make a pact with Lucifer than with the Israelis. Israel used to be turkeys best ally and friend. Now they have turned against them. Suddenly the israeli selective memory recalls the Armenian genocide ( not because they found their moral fountain or for any love of justice and humanity; but simply to poke a finger in turkey's eye). The israelis will ignite the caucasus to keep the turks busy; prod the kurds to distract the turks. Turkey has too many fronts to consider. This librador avigor is a loose cannon. He does not care about allies. He'll use his nukes to resolve any threat to the holy land. We shall be left on the periphery because we want to. Why are we giving the sovereignty of the Aegean away to turkey ? Because our politicians do not have a stomach for a fight. Cyprus is already in the orbit of israeli interests. There is massive financial interests in Greek Cyprus, which could almost qualify it as an israeli island. Greece will be a chess piece in the hands of the israelis. They may use Greece to badger the turks, until such time as they find their lost harmony with the turks.

Hermes said...

I have to somewhat agree with Anteas and to some extent with Karabelias. We should be very wary of Israel. There are sound strategic reasons why we should form strategic alliances with our Balkan neighbours. Bulgaria has a large Turkish minority which is not going to go away and will only cause problems. Serbia wants Kosovo back and there are lingering problems in Bosnia. Skopje is a joke and will come running eventually. Also, Russia has a somewhat restive Turkic minority. Despite the friendly chatter with Turkey, Russia will remain wary of the Mongols. However, the Zionist regime's position may change overnight depending on elections in Israel and Turkey. Of course, we should not close the door completely on the Zionist regime, but their move closer to our interests may only be tactical and may disappear as quickly as it appeared.

John Akritas said...

I, too, oppose any attempt to jump right into bed with the Israelis and reckon that the Turks and Israelis will eventually get back together again – but this is no reason not to try and take advantage while the opportunity exists. My main point was really regarding the speed with which Israel is reacting to events and diversifying its partners; whereas Greece seems enthral to this one (failed) policy of Greek-Turkish friendship within the EU. The Israelis are eyeing up partners in Greece's own backyard – where Greece should be much more active – while Papandreou is in Turkey again talking up the supposed shared future of the two countries, as if the Turkish navy weren't swanning around the Aegean like they already owned it.

And Anteas, there is no such place as 'Greek Cyprus' – unless you are a Turk (only Turks refer to 'Greek Cyprus' and 'Turkish Cyprus') – and what exactly are these 'massive Israeli financial interests' in the free areas of the island? Can you give some examples, otherwise I'd have to suggest you have no idea what you're talking about.

lastgreek said...

I see we're still discussing America's favourite butt whores--Israel and Turkey. :) One major setback with the Kurds, and the Turks will run right back to the Israelis. These two whores are a match made in Sodom and Gomorrah. Let's stay clear.

Excellent reminder, J, and let no Greek forget--there is no such thing as "Greek Cyprus" or "Turkish Cyprus." There is one Cyprus: The Republic of Cyprus--the only democracy in the Middle East!--with its northern territory under illegal, military occupation.

John Akritas said...

John Akritas said...
I would remind people that we are talking about developing strategic partnerships here – which are inherently cynical and transient, as well as being extremely important for a small and vulnerable country like Greece – and that the purpose is to advance Greek interests and fulfill as much as possible our desire to be a significant regional player. We're not talking about who we'd like to spend an evening with on the lash. All of which means that if Greece and Cyprus don't try and detach Israel from Turkey, then we need better reasons for inaction than Israel is a 'whore'.

Hermes said...

I agree, foreign relations should not be based on reflexive prejudices or affinities. Any student of Thucydides-Kondylis knows this. Foreign relations should be based on pure strategic and tactical calculation. Cultural affinities should only enhance interests but not be the basis of a relationship. We should also not make the mistake of taking other nation's neuroses and prejudices i.e. if Americans have an aversion to Russia for whatever reason then that is their problem, not ours.

Hermes said...

The following article by Dr Konstantinos Grivas is very thoughtful. Basically, it says, that in response to some calls for a Greek-Israeli alliance against an increasingly Islamic Turkey, Greece should lay low and not be identified with Turkey (as a US-Turkey divergence is a possibility) and with Israel (as it would mean ruining relations in the Arabic world and domestic sympathy for the Palestinians). There is a possibility that Turkey will be isolated by its own actions, which we will be beneficiaries, whilst retaining the support of the Arabic world. He also highlights the potential for domestic change in Turkey and Israel and how it can impact relations with Greece. Unfortunately, he does not mention our unredeemed island, Cyprus and the impact of it on our strategic and tactical calculations.

Hermes said...

Good website. Give him your support.

John Akritas said...

No-one's seriously arguing, are they, that Greece should abruptly shift its foreign policy and become a close or subordinate ally of the Israelis. That would be absurd and counter-productive, both for Greece and, as Grivas says, for Israel – since Greece's most useful role could be as a go-between between the Arabs and Israelis. It's this role as a go-between that Greece should cultivate, and cultivate quickly before the Turks realise they're being stupid turning towards Iran. Indeed, only the other day I read this article ( in which Turks were complaining about Iran not paying Turkey back on Cyprus for supporting them on the nuclear weapons issue. The article also makes the point that the Arabs aren't exactly enamoured with the Turks for backing the Iranians.

Also, events – such as changes in governments – may well conspire to bring Turkey and Israel back together again, but they may also conspire to make matters worse. Who could have predicted the flotilla fiasco? Hamas and Hezbollah aren't going away either, neither is the Iranian nuclear issue – all of which will continue to bedevil Israeli-Turkish relations.

Then, there's this issue of massive gas deposits found between Israel and Cyprus. The company involved in exploring both Cypriot and Israeli deposits – Noble Energy – is a US-Israeli concern. The Turks have, typically, made threats to Cyprus if it goes ahead with exploration, but in the current climate the Israelis might not take kindly to their firms and their exploration vessels being threatened by Turkish gunboats. A shame Greece doesn't have a naval presence in the Eastern Mediterranean around Cyprus. I'm not an expert on this, and I might be wrong, but my impression is that the Greek navy rarely calls into Cyprus. Surely, the biggest lesson to Greece from this whole flotilla fiasco is that the Turks are largely bluster and threats and you have to face them down. Wouldn't it be something if the Hellenic Navy decided to offer some protection to Cyprus, realising that in doing so it was protecting Greece?

Hermes said...

John, you know as well as I, Greece has ceased to behave like a nation-state. In my perfect world Cyprus would be brimming with Greek navy ships docked at her lovely harbours, thousands of Greek agents lying low in Cyprus by working as civilians until the moment arrives, billions of euro of business being conducted with Greeks from around the world transported by the Greek merchant marine (with arms being clandestinely moved into Cyprus) and so on. But Greece is a neuter these days. In fact, we are inviting Mongols back to reclaim their so called "properties".

lastgreek said...

Ok, I want to be the first one here to officially call bullshit on the so-called break in relations between the two criminal whores Israel and Turkey :-)

I think it's hilarious how the Turks are demanding an apology from the Israelis. The head of the Mongol government Erdogan even spent all of his time at the recent G20 meeting in Toronto lobbying member countries to push Israel to apologise.

A simple apology is all the supreme Mongol wants. Can you believe that? (Not!) Why doesn't the supreme mongol cancel the impending purchase of airplane drones from Israel? Oh, that's right--we're dealing with sophisticated military technology here. Can't screw that up, can we? No, of course not. How silly of me to even bring it up. Sorry :-( I mean how else are the Mongols going to continue their aggresive behaviour against Greece, their illegal occupation of northern Cyprus, and their brutal campaign against the Kurds.

Moreover, not only is Israel an indispensable source of military technology, it also provides pro bono--PRO BONO!--the services of one of the most powerful lobbies in the United States--AIPAC. How powerful is this Zionist lobby? Well, let's just say that no American politician can ever aspire to the highest office in the land without first obsequiously bending over, spreading both ass cheeks, and saying "ahh" to this political action committee. We're talking bareback here. That powerful!

As I said before (and please excuse the cliche), Turkey is trying to have its cake and eat it too. It sees that Israel is isolated not only in the Middle East but by the rest of the world. (Except for the US, some ruling dictatorships like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and a few micro states in the Pacific, Israel is all alone.) So why not play along and keep all the important stuff like arms sales etc. with Israel under the radar. The benefits are clearly tangible: increased domestic and international support, and increased trade.

Btw, there were reports today that Turkey now forbids Israeli military overflights over its territory, and how this means that Israel-Turkey rift is widenning. Big whoopty-doo. Like Israel can't get overflight permission from Saudi Arabia. The bullshit cup runneth over, folks.

PS: I hope I am completely off here and that the Americans punish Turkey. I just don't see that happening unfortunately.

lastgreek said...

If anyone is interested, the supreme Mongol Erdogan was interviewed at the G-20 summit in Toronto by Charlie Rose.