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The relevance of EU-NATO in Greece-Turkey relations
by Christos Mouzeviris
2018-03-15 08:31:26
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It seems that EU hopefull and NATO member Turkey is on down-spiraling course, regarding its relationship with its neighbors, as well with USA and EU.

On Feb. 11, Cyprus announced that the Turkish military was holding exercises that blocked a ship operated by Italian oil and gas company Eni. Cyprus had hired the company to drill in its waters, which Turkey claims as its own. 

turk01_400Then on Feb. 12, a Turkish patrol boat ran into a Greek coast guard ship that was anchored off the islands of Imia/Kardak, claimed by both Greece and Turkey. In response to both events, the European Union issued a statement asking Turkey to "refrain from any actions that might damage good neighborly" ties.

Seeming to acknowledge the EU request, both Greece and Turkey on Feb. 14 withdrew their ships from the Imia islets region in an effort to ease tensions. But the dispute between Cyprus and Turkey over the drilling blocks remains in play.
(Stratfor Worldview)

Turkey's volatile relations with Greece and Cyprus is not anything new, but there is an oxymoron in this story. Both Greece and Turkey are technically allies in NATO. If two allied countries are hostile to each other, then what can be said about the legitimacy of this alliance? 

And while in the past Turkey has only been showing its hostility towards Greece, recently it has grown its confidence so much, that is even challenging the USA itself, as the recent developments in Syria show. 

Turkey’s current fight, against U.S.-backed Kurdish troops in the northwestern Syria territory of Afrin, is destabilizing enough. But the real risk will come if Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan follows through on his repeated promises to press further east toward the Kurdish-controlled and U.S.-patrolled city of Manbij. (Politico Magazine)

With his megalomania, plus because for years Turkey's actions were tolerated and supported by its US allies, Mr. Erdogan is turning against anyone, even America itself. Inspired by President Putin, who in fact he has become closer in recent years, Erdogan is jeopardizing Turkey's relationship with all its allies and has already shuttered the country's hopes for EU membership. 

Until now, it was Greece and Cyprus that had to bear the cost of Turkey's erratic behavior. Greece, in particular, had to spend millions of its budget in defense, to protect itself from Turkey, its ally in NATO! 

Something that, of course, suited other big players of the alliance, like USA, France and the United Kingdom, all which were selling arms to Greece, enhancing their economies, while the Greek one suffered. The Greek-Turkish hostilities were being continued for decades, in order to perpetuate a situation that served the local elites, as well their international allies. 

By keeping the two countries in constant fear and competition with each other, international arms industries profited, while the nationalistic elements in both nations were satisfied, diverging the public opinion towards this constant threat, while other issues were being pushed under the carpet. 

And so we reached a stage that both countries are financially, politically and socially unstable, but while Greece is an EU member and gains some security and stability, Turkey, on the other hand, is going rogue at every direction. 

Here is a proof that Turkey's EU membership would be good, not for any other reason, but to bring the country under the control of Europe. NATO has been proven to be insufficient to keep Turkey in check, mainly because of America's foreign policy and interests in the region, which are not always for the benefit of Greece or Europe.

A strong and stable, united Europe with Turkey as a member, would be the only way to safeguard stability in the region and relief Greece and Cyprus from the burden of constant Turkish threats and insults. 

Yet, as Europe is evolving and hopefully with continue to evolve towards a more federal formation, the prospect of the Euro Army gives hope to Greece and Cyprus. As both countries have signed the PESCO Defence Cooperation, they have now an enhanced protection against Turkey's threats.

Ideally, Cyprus would be better in NATO, to gain some protection from Turkey. But as this is highly unlikely since Turkey does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus as a state, nor the Cypriot public opinion favors such move, then PESCO gives the small island nation access to European and NATO protection in the future. 

Since the European Army will be allied to NATO, it is a Cypriot entry into the alliance through the back door. The two allied armies will strengthen both Greece's and Cyprus' security and defense, something that perhaps annoys Turkey, thus it is acting up now, in order to make a point and remain relevant.

Turkey knows that on its western front things have changed and will continue to change. Bulgaria has also joined the EU and NATO ranks, while the rest of the Balkans are poised to do so in the next decade. 

Thus Turkey's elites are looking elsewhere to throw their weight around and satisfy their internal nationalistic elements. Europe and in fact NATO itself, if it wants to stay relevant in the European continent, must stand by Greece and Cyprus, trying in addition to bring Turkey back in their ranks. 

It is absurd for two allied nations to have such a bad relationship. It looks bad for NATO and diminishes its role and prestige. But in the end, if NATO fails, Europe can always rely on itself and PESCO, as it should have for years now. 

Hopefully, Mr. Erdogan and Turkey will realize where their interests are better served and reconcile their differences with their EU and NATO neighbors soon. It is ridiculous to thrive in old hatred, nationalism and expansionist views, that not only are not realistic in today's interconnected world, but are holding back generations of young Turks due to lack of full access in European institutions and programmes. 

It is in Europe's interests to have a stable and prosperous Turkey, either as a neighbor or a member. Thus it can not rely solely on America and NATO to achieve this, since America's interests are not totally synchronised with Europe's. Thus our continent must assert itself and form its own policies towards its neighbors and implement them.

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Nikos Laios2018-03-16 15:53:42
Aah yes...a vision of a federalist Europe that will auger a in new utopia Of milk and honey.

A fantasty usually espoused by Northern Europeans and Greeks living outside of Greece.

What do the hungry and unemployed Greeks, Italians and Spaniards on the streets have to say about this I wonder?

The evereyday person in the street feels that they have been duped; their autonomy and democracy has been taken away, their livelihood, and the price of everyday goods skyrocketed in price.

....and more Europe to bring more of this shock therapy and poverty?...and a unity on foreign policy?

I don’t this so....

While this vision of a federalist Europe might be espoused by the pseudony-intellectuals of Northern Europe in their comfortable living rooms, the man in the street knows better; and they think fondly of the days before the EU.

The EU as it is must die, and a new loose decentralised model needs to take shape, for the current model is untenable on both a fiscal, economic, cultural, social and political basis.

As it stands, the current EU is impotent, sclerotic, Byzantine and undemocratic and will fail, and when the day does comes, all sensible people will throw their handful of dirt in its grave and exclaim , ‘Kyrie Eleison”, at last we are free.

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