Saturday, 23 June 2012
Will Greece follow the Syrian example?
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.’