Italian Admiral: Greece is unwilling to find compromises with Turkey

Italian Admiral Ferdinando Sanfelice di Monteforte

Military expert and professor of strategic studies, Admiral Ferdinando Sanfelice di Monteforte, said Turkish President Recep Tayyip "Erdoğan is losing consensus internally and is putting the economy in crisis.

The Admiral also claimed that the S-400 missile defensive system is not competitive.

Is Greece calling for an arms embargo and suspension of the EU-Turkey customs union? There is no doubt that "in the absence of an agreement, measures of this kind will have to be taken".

In an interview with Formiche, Admiral Monteforte discussed the Greek-Turkish conflict in light of the energy dossier and the related reverberations within EU policies.

The Admiral highlighted the economic difficulties of Turkey which risks becoming, after Argentina, a failed state.

What will change in the crisis with Greece after the victory of the pro-Erdoğan Tatar in the presidential elections in northern Cyprus?

Italian Admiral Ferdinando Sanfelice di Monteforte
Italian Admiral Ferdinando Sanfelice di Monteforte.

Anything. Turkey's position in northern Cyprus is clear: it has not signed the Montego Bay Convention, does not believe that islands should have a continental shelf or even an exclusive economic zone, and indicates the possible delimitation of a small island within a 12 mile continental shelf. It will change only when the two sides understand that it is better for them to get along.

This morning, the Turkish fleet left the Dardanelles, while the Oruç Reis ship is back in Kastellorizo, causing the consequent mobilization of the Greek Navy. Are diplomatic efforts in danger of being thwarted by Ankara's posture?

Of course, the risk is alongside that of an accident. Some hotheads could fire some cannon shots and hit a target. At that point there would be a paradoxical situation, because it would no longer be Turkey against Greece, but against the EU. The Lisbon Treaty is clear and Greece has already alerted Europe to this.

Greece calls for an arms embargo and the suspension of the EU-Turkey customs union: what do you think?

There is no doubt that in the absence of an agreement, such measures will have to be taken. The only thing that is holding back Europe right now is Greece's unwillingness to find honorable compromises. As long as Athens remains on intractable positions, the EU will have difficulty in supporting it.

Syria, Libya and now the Aegean: why has the EU not responded to Erdoğan's strategic depth with a common foreign policy, given that Paris and Berlin are on opposite positions?

The EU is ready to do a certain number of things agreed with everyone, it is not ready to support a country's intransigence.

How important will the relations being built on the Paris-Athens axis weigh, after Greece has reached an agreement to buy 16 French Rafales?

Everyone is very open-minded towards Greece, because they have a number of reasons and there are not a few. The problem is that the negotiations are based, as is well known, on a do ut des: reciprocity is the highest law of the diplomatic world, so Greece would have to give up a little to gain something else.

At this juncture, the Euro-Mediterranean side is seething with conflicts: not only Syria and Libya, but also the Armenian-Azerbaijani dossier and precisely in the Aegean. What could be the Russian variable in Ankara's choices?

Russia is slowly getting closer to Europe: so its support for the Shi'ite component and for Turkey becomes conditional on what happened a year ago. A second aspect concerns Ankara, which presents appalling internal problems. The three main components, namely fundamentalists, secularists and Kurds, who do not find a modus vivendi. So those in power try to go over the top, to win support and maintain control. Erdoğan, however, is losing consensus internally, putting the economy in crisis with the risk of Turkey becoming, after Argentina, a failed state. This is why he makes a big voice: he needs resources, money and he has to give something as a guarantee.

Meanwhile, Turkey failed to successfully test an S-400 missile system because it refused to hire Russian specialists, as reported by Avia, which specializes in military affairs: just a technical problem?

Seen from the outside, all the missiles are good, but then the flaws are discovered inside. We must not forget that thank goodness there is a technological gap between the West and Russia. So Turkey bought the S-400 but found itself with a system that does not work and therefore is not competitive with its western counterpart, due to defects and poor reliability. I remember during the Cold War we saw Russian ships trying to get their very busy systems working. No wonder today that the S-400 creates problems for the Turks.

Admiral Ferdinando Sanfelice di Monteforte is a professor of History of Military Institutions at the Catholic University of Milan and of Strategy at the University of Trieste - Polo di Gorizia. Admiral Monteforte was Military Representative for Italy at the NATO and EU Military Committees and Commander of the NATO naval operation Active Endeavor. The Admiral is also the author of several books.

The views of the publisher and the Admiral do not necessarily reflect those of Greek City Times.

Guest Contributor

This piece was written for Greek City Times by a Guest Contributor