As the crisis in Greek-Turkish relations develops, so does the complete lack of strategy of the Kyriakos Mitsotakis government, its phobic syndrome towards Turkey and its attempt to deceive the Greek people by telling them shameless lies to hide its untruth. Even the conversation between Defense Minister Nikos Panayiotopoulos and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg revealed that top government officials who are supposed to handle the most delicate national security issues say something else to foreigners. Instead of Panagiotopoulos asking Stoltenberg for the immediate withdrawal of the Oruç Reis Turkish research vessel from the Greek continental shelf, because it is its presence that creates the major problem, he first asked him to withdraw… the Turkish warships, when Stoltenberg asked him about the Oruç Reis.
From the above it seems that the Greek Minister of Defense is in complete confusion and has not yet understood what is really happening in the East Mediterranean with the Turkish NAVTEX. Turkey has every legal right to send its warships anywhere in international waters. We can not blame it for how many warships it has, and for how long, in international waters. Our problem is the research vessel, not the warships. If there was no Oruç Reis in the middle of the Crete-Cyprus space, Greece would have absolutely no reason to worry about all the warships that the Turks gathered there. If I were in the position of Stoltenberg and listened to this from Panayiotopoulos I would concluded that the Greek government officials do not know what is happening and that they have literally lost the ball trying to communicate the case they have suffered, to fool their inner audience. And unfortunately, that seems to be the case.
The Mitsotakis government tried in August in every way to deceive Greek citizens, claiming that there was no violation of Greek sovereign rights by the Turkish research vessel, which remained on the Greek continental shelf for 34 consecutive days, completely undisturbed.
Unfortunately, this is a tangible and an indisputable fact, because it was publicly admitted by the Prime Minister’s Security Adviser, retired Vice Admiral Alexandros Diakopoulos, and that is why he was forced to resign. The bitter truth is that we have been tolerating for years the overflights of Turkish fighter jets and drones over our islands, and now we have been tolerating for weeks the conduct of seismic surveys by a Turkish research vessel within our continental shelf. Turkey has already managed to cause the collapse of the Greek deterrent strategy, tearing down our so-called “red lines.” This was the next to happen since the Greek side completely lacks the political will to use the armed forces as a lever for foreign policy. If one is hesitant or afraid to use military force at the right time, one can gain nothing afterwards in the diplomatic arena because one will negotiate from a disadvantaged position. And of course those who expect France, Israel or any other country to save us are in vain when we ourselves avoid fighting for our national rights. If we do not first gain our self-respect by showing our determination on the field in practice, we will not be respected and no ally will count on us. If Israel is considered by all to be a force to be reckoned with today, it is because it never hesitated to make any necessary sacrifices in order to defend its national interests. You gain international respect and peace – they are not given to you by anyone.
Greece’s first diplomatic defeat is already clearly on the horizon and is inevitable if we continue the current tactics. It is rumored that German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in order to appease Erdogan, to defuse the crisis in the Eastern Mediterranean and to avoid trouble in the six months of the German presidency, is considering “thawing” the EU-Turkey customs union agreement. That is, the Turks will not only not be punished for their aggression, but will also be rewarded from above, gaining significant financial benefits!
Greece’s second major diplomatic defeat will be under pressure from NATO and the EU to open bilateral negotiations with Turkey (because secret negotiations are already underway, as revealed in July at a meeting in Berlin), which as things stand, will not be limited to the definition of maritime zones but also to many other issues raised by Ankara. If Greece continues to set conditions to sit at the table of open dialogue, Erdogan will simply continue the military pressure and investigations of Oruç Reis until he humiliates the Mitsotakis government to such an extent that it drags it into negotiations based on his own agenda.
Whatever development there is from now on in Greek-Turkish relations, Turkey will win and Greece will lose, because the Turks are actively using the paper of military blackmail while Greece refuses to respond on the ground. Erdogan made it very clear the day before yesterday that he will either get what he wants with the signing of Greece through negotiations (that is, he seeks a repeat of the self-humiliation that our country suffered against the Skopjans with the Prespa agreement), or he will get them by force. Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar also stressed that Turkey “does not concede anything” from what it claims to the detriment of Greece. From the moment Greece sits at the negotiating table to cede to Turkey its continental shelf east of the 28th meridian (because that’s the case) the Republic of Cyprus will also be forced to negotiate with the Turks in order to cede to them the entire western, southwestern and southern part of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) that it has already declared. The Cypriot EEZ has no chance of escaping amputation from the moment it is first applied in the Greek EEZ with the official signature of Greece. So whatever we decide to do with the Turks will have immediate and dramatic consequences for the Cypriots as well.
Things are very clear. Like it or not, Greece is FORCED to use military force against Turkey if it wants to defend its sovereign rights but also its own national dignity and geopolitical integrity. Let us not harbor illusions – whatever we give to Turkey we are not going to appease it, nor make it love us. We will just whet her appetite more to make new unacceptable claims against us.
The delayed arms orders that the Mitsotakis government plans to make now will be of no use to us as long as there is no political will for a dynamic response to the orphaned military threats we receive. Mitsotakis has repeatedly stated in the most categorical way that he considers the use of military force an anachronistic practice and hates it. Even if 200 Rafael fighter jets re given to us by France or even 10 state-of-the-art destroyers are given to us by the Americans, will we ever dare to use them? It was not our fault for the lack of weapons that we were humiliated by the departure of Oruç Reis, but the lack of political will – and unfortunately the political will is not sold somewhere to buy it.
We can not escape the Turkish problem only through diplomatic moves because on the one hand Turkey has the same allies as us and on the other hand it also has very capable diplomacy. Our neighbors have been predators and barbarians for 1,000 years, they will not change now because we will surrender our sovereign rights and much of our mineral wealth. We must accept dialogue with Turkey ONLY after we have first given it a strong military lesson – in NO other case. We will either talk to Turkey from a position of power, or it will trample us and plunder us. As long as the rulers are slow to digest this, the damage that our country will suffer will gradually become irreparable.
Giving the Turks what they ask for without a single rifle falling.
The views expressed by the author in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Greek City Times.