Saturday, 23 June 2012

Will Greece follow the Syrian example?

I’m sure we’re all thinking the same thing after Syria shot down a Turkish plane violating its airspace, which has so far provoked the usual Turkish belligerence and bluster about a ‘decisive response’ and the ‘necessary steps’.

We’re thinking why doesn’t Greece do the same. Why doesn’t Greece, when Turkey violates Greek airspace, which it does hundreds of times a year, or shows disregard for Greek territorial waters, which it did, for example, earlier this year by sailing its frigates around Kythnos, an island just south of Athens, why doesn’t Greece blast the Turks out of the sky or send them to the bottom of the sea?

Greece has every right to do so, as Syria had every right to despatch the Turkish aircraft in its airspace. Perhaps the Turks sent the plane into Syrian airspace thinking that the Syrians would do what Greece does – scramble its aircraft to chase the intruder away – but clearly the Syrians don’t want to play the same game Turkey plays with Greece.

Not for the Syrians, Greece’s impotent rebukes to Turkey’s mockery and insults, which is what its violations of Greek sovereignty amount to; taunts and slights it feels it can direct at Greece for failing to pick up the gauntlet that it repeatedly throws down, a backing away that also has the effect of reinforcing Turkey’s perception of its strength and status and Greece’s view that it is vulnerable.

Much of Turkey’s conceit and Greece’s hesitancy derives, of course, from the way Greece abandoned Cyprus in 1974, when Turkey seized half the island after not one but two military operations, neither of which was met with an adequate response from Greece, despite the likelihood that even a modest Greek engagement would not have threatened a full-blown Greco-Turkish war, which is what Athens feared, but rather forced the USA and NATO to intervene to stop the conflict getting out of control.

But what now for Turkey’s affrontery, with Antonis Samaras as prime minister, a man who has differentiated himself from his predecessors by his nationalist rhetoric and, more recently, by his declared determination to press ahead, regardless of Turkish objections and threats of war, with the delineation of Greece’s Exclusive Economic Zones in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean.

We note two of the very first things Samaras did on assuming power this week:

1. He took a ‘congratulatory’ telephone call from Turkey’s PM Recip Tayyip Erdogan in which the two agreed to revive Giorgos Papandreou’s idea of joint cabinet meetings between Greece and Turkey.

2. He appointed as Greece's foreign minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, a man known for his mollification of Turkey, his long-standing friendships with that country’s leadership and who recently declared: ‘I believe in the convergence of Greek and Turkish societies.’


Hermes said...

And Samaras replaced the extremely well respected former Chief of General Staff, Frangis from the defence ministry with a former journalist, Panagiotopulos.

To be fair, the Syrians and Turks were conducting these type of meaningless gestures like high level contacts and silly statements like Avramapoulos about two years ago. Often these are diplomatic niceties

John Akritas said...

I wouldn't expect or even think smart Greece taking the Turkish bait and shooting down their planes; but I was rather hoping, with Samaras, that we would change our diplomatic strategy, somewhat in line with Markezinis, realising that this attempt to Europeanise/civilise Turkey is not going to work; that Turkey is not going to give up its ambitions in the Aegean, Balkans and Eastern Mediterranean; that Greece cannot extend its EEZ without a breach with Turkey; and that there is a strong possibility of armed conflict between us to resolve these issues one way or another.

Hermes said...

This is a great speech by General Frangos.

Hermes said...

The photo of the week, MHP "Grey Wolves" leader making the sign of the Grey Wolves in Xanthi this past week:

Where is the Tsipras and Papariga crowd in regards to this Fascist?

John Akritas said...

I've been following this story with Bahceli in Thraki and Macedonia. How stupid are we? I'm pessimistic about Thraki. After all, it's very far from Kifissia.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for eloquently disseminating the truth for Hellenes in the Anglosphere.