Turkey-Greece: two steps forward, one step back February 1, 2011Posted by Yilan in Turkey, Yunanistan.
Tags: Greece, Turkey
|The relationship between Greece and Turkey has always been “sensible.” This sensibility is not the result of the peoples’ mutual dislike of each other but because of the nature of relations between the concerned states. However, if the channels of communication between the peoples weren’t blocked, the governments would not be able to pursue this policy of tension.|
|In the past, the conflict surrounding the Aegean and Cyprus issues affected Turkey’s relations with the Western world and the USSR. In fact, this conflict was used to keep Turkey “in between.” Because of this conflict, Turkey could never totally become part of the Western world, but it was never allowed to break off with the West, either. This issue also helped regulate the conflict between Turkey and the USSR, allowing Turkey to maintain tension with the USSR.
Let’s take a look at the domestic side of the story. The truth is, neither Greek nor Turkish authorities have considered this conflict as a problem to be solved. Instead, they have used it as a way of reinforcing their power within their respective countries. However, one thing is quite difficult to understand: A quick glance at the map is enough to prove that it is indeed possible to frighten Greeks by telling them, “The Turks will come”; however, it remains a mystery how governments were able to frighten Turks through the “Greek danger.” Nevertheless, this vivid antagonism has helped the peoples to accept the purchase of large amounts of weapons and to make them more docile toward their armed forces, making things easier for those who claim they defend the nation through arms to preserve their influence over their countries’ domestic political lives.
Scenarios about possible clashes with Greece in the Aegean Sea figure in coup d’état plans elaborated in Turkey. That’s supplementary proof that the conflict with Greece is one of the tools that maintain the regime of military tutelage. Can these scenarios still be possible if Greece announces that Turkey is definitely not an enemy? However, who knows, perhaps there are people in Greece who would be pleased with a coup in Turkey. What is interesting is to notice that, despite civilian efforts, the military never misses an opportunity to refresh the existing crisis. Following the Kardak crisis, the two countries’ foreign ministers, İsmail Cem and George Papandreou, made great efforts to build peace between the two neighbors. These efforts have been pursued since then. The prime ministers of the two countries met four times last year. They were recently in Erzurum together to assist the opening ceremony of the 25th Winter World University Games. It was obvious that a political meeting attached to a sporting event could only bring messages of peace.
Nonetheless, three of the four meetings held by the prime ministers were overshadowed by warplanes flying over islands in the Aegean. So, while politicians meet to deliver messages of reconciliation, the air forces were busy flexing their muscles. There can only be two possible explanations for this: Either the governments want to demonstrate their military capabilities as intimidation while negotiating, or the military and civilian authorities are pursuing divergent political purposes.
The series of problems in the Aegean Sea and in Cyprus are the problems of not only Greece and Turkey but also of the EU and NATO. Additionally, it is hard to believe that a government that constantly proclaims it wants to get along with its neighbors would ask the air forces to fly jets every time there is a bilateral meeting. What is more credible is that the deep state still pursues its ill-intentioned maneuvers. Let’s hope that our countries’ prime ministers will not fall into this trap.