Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Reason Greece Could Lose the Aegean Dispute



Part I



A lot has been written in the last few days about the Greek Prime Minister’s response to the letter he received from Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan. Depending on the source of the article, or more specifically the political orientation of the writer, the comments on PM Papandreou’s response are neutral to extremely critical. We would hereby like to focus on why some responses are so critical and the dangers that are inherent to a policy of appeasement towards Turkey. The point here is not to go into every detail of every issue but to highlight the dangerous and slippery slope Greece is being dragged to.

To take things from the beginning, several weeks ago the Greek PM received a letter from his Turkish counterpart regarding the relations between the two countries. In true Turkish political fashion, the usual list of Turkish claims made their appearance. The Greek side carefully studied the letter and has now finally come with a response. Media sources which are politically and ideologically close to the government have described the Greek response as one which tells Turkey to first and foremost respect Greek territorial sovereignty (we’re sort of past that but anyhow) and International Law (the ultimate expression of Greek wishful thinking). Sources closer to the opposition are quick to point out that this is the first time a Greek Prime Minister agrees to the Turkish demand of negotiating all issues of the Aegean from scratch and as a whole. The Greek response can be read in several ways; however, even when trying to keep the utmost neutrality from a Greek political standpoint, it is clear that Greece is opening the door to discuss issues that were once off limits. The reason these issues are off limits are because they all had to do with Greek sovereignty. In international relations sovereignty is the essence of that which is not negotiable.

The Greek PM’s response to Turkish PM Erdogan accepts that all issues between the two sides must be negotiated at a high level. If a settlement cannot be found then the issues should be referred to the International Court of Justice in The Hague. And this is exactly the slippery slope we’re talking about.

When discussing Aegean issues with other Europeans a question often heard is why Greece is against negotiating on all issues. The answer is simple. Negotiations are an issue of give and take. When it comes to Turkish claims in the Aegean the only one who stands to lose something is Greece. The only one who stands to gain something is Turkey. That is not a negotiation, it is extortion, and in the case of the Aegean it is one accompanied by the threat of war as officially sanctioned by the Turkish Parliament. To draw a silly parallel in this case, imagine a burglar breaking into your home and then claiming your home is actually his. In the spirit of “give and take” negotiations shouldn’t the burglar get half your home? If the burglar claims half your home, should he get a quarter? Of course not, this is exactly why we have laws and police and courts and such. Ownership is a given. In the arena of international politics there is international law and there are treaties but let’s face it, for the most part things are settled in terms of power.

Part II coming soon

5 comments:

  1. Upon receipt of the letter from the turk the correct course of action would be to state no negotiations only following the rules of law and treaties.
    Or don't respond at all. Plain and simple.
    George thinks he will be written in the history books as the guy that brought peace to the Greeks and turks. Let's negotiate what is ours.
    I guess this is what you get for putting in power political family dynasties who have set up Greece for its destruction.
    In Ancient Greece there was a way of getting rid of traitors....maybe we wouldn't have so many traitors if they knew what was in store.

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  2. The following are true:

    1. The sovereignty of Greece is not negotiable. Any Greek citizen will agree with this. Mr. Papandreou however may feel differently in the name of the non-existent and imaginary Greek-Turkish friendship. I just hope that he does not jeopardize Greek national interests with all this nonsense before the Greeks have a chance to vote him out of office.

    2. If you want to succeed, you negotiate from a position of strength and not from a position of weakness. This is not a good time for Greece to be entering into any kind of negotiations with the Turks.

    3. If you want strength and to be able to negotiate from a position of power, if you want to be respected in international forums and not laughed at, you must support your industry, starting with your defense industry. The Greek politicians of both major political parties have criminal liability in this area. They kept buying weapons for decades from foreign suppliers and purposely downgraded the Greek defense industry, the Greek engineers and the Greek industry in general. This leads to economic weakness, military weakness, bankruptcy and capitulation.

    4. If you want a vibrant economy, you do not allow every moron farmer that so decides to block the roads. You use the police to enforce the law.

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  3. "The sovereignty of Greece is not negotiable."

    It actually is. Try sleeping with the fear that a 2 million strong (counting reserves) and extremely well equipped army will at any time just walk all over you! Oh, and you know them very well. Virtually every weapon the Turks have is assembled and manufactured in Turkey and they can ask for that, because they buy so much.

    2. Greece has seen its better days. Do I need to remind you of the dirt poor Greece pre-EU? If /by the time when Greece turns its economy around Turkey will be a $ Trillion+ economy that can sustain a massive army and lots of international clout.

    Greece already has a very high GDP/PP and it's virtually assured not to increase for at least a decade, let alone double or triple. Turkey on the other hand hasn't even started yet and it's 80 million strong nation has plenty of young people to work. Turks are not stupid to settle now, Greece with its 1.2 kids per couple is only getting weaker, Turks can wait. Say goodbye to half of the islands and in a sense Cyprus, for the Turks will get a much better deal and little by little stamps of Greekness from Cyprus.

    Why shouldn't Turkey want as much as it can get in islands and shelf? Greece is doing the same, and it has done in the past.

    3. I have ZERO sympathy for Greece, nor does 90% of Europe. Greece has burned all its good will with the lies and cheating *and* blackmailed FYROM and last year Albania over EU (Greece wanted 300 km2 of sea and a traitor agreed only to be turned down by the Albanian Supreme Court!) So Greece is using EU money and EU power to blackmail it's weaker neighbors. Live by the sword, die by the sword. In fact if war broke out tomorrow, Greece is completely surrounded by enemies and at best a neutral Bulgaria. Who will start a war with Turks to help the trouble-making, lying and cheating Greeks ? That's your reputation, like it or not. Your foreign policy hidden behind the EU veto has been merciless, and plenty of people are waiting and wishing for your fall.

    4. Turkey knows it ill never get in EU so Greece lost its only weapon, an EU veto. Germany and France want a special relationship and Greece doesn't dare say no or the "You are in Turkish airspace, please leave immediately or you will be shot down" warning start coming to your planes near...Crete.

    Why should the world care enough to start a war if Turkey takes half of the Aegean islands and maybe Thrace? They will not, they will just ask that Turks don't advance too much. They are already in Europe so nothing will change geo-strategically, and the islands were theirs for 600 years. As you know, there was no such thing as 'Greece,' ever, just some Hellenic city states some 2500 years ago. Modern Greece is a an Orthodox nation made of Christian Balkans (and some Turks, like the Karamanli)

    So Greece might get a taste of their own medicine, finally. Having no friends in a time of need does suck, but friends are made and lost by your behaviour.

    Great blog by the way.

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  4. Anonymous what the hell you are talking about Germany and Italy got the ass kicked by an unarmed Greece in 1940.6 months took them and in Crete the only German paratrooper division 26000 men half got killed and the other half got wounded.Letme tell you one thing all the greek force is in macadonia and west Thrace. dont try there they will get to Istabula,most of the turkish army is on the asia side bad move. the Spartans stillalive dont wake them up you will suffer.lots of leopards 2 good luck.just cool down peace is better.

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  5. My dear friends, peace is of the outmost importance between neighbours. Friendship can be attained only if past problems are resolved. I am of Pontian descent and unfortunately I do not live in my beloved Pontus. A sincere apology of the genocide against my ancestors and against my race is urgently needed by your Prime Minister Mr.Ertogun. And by the way do not attempt to engage in a war with Greece, within a few hours your spiritual and historic capital of Adrianoupoli(Edirne)in your language will fall in Greek hands, and so will be Constantinople as far as your cities and infrastructure on the Aegean cost will soon be rubles and so will be your interior. Read the Greek history from the dawn of cicilization, you will see that whenever the Greeks were down psychologicaly, politicaly or economicaly that is when they were most dangerous, by the way from the beginning of time the Greek Navy has never lost a battle and believe me it's intantion is not to lose in the future. My Turkish friends let's be real frients and let's construct this friendship on the things that we have in common and on knowledge and acceptance of history.

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