The looming crisis in relations between Greece and Turkey is now official following the Sept. 5 historic meeting at the NATO summit meeting. It has broken out at the highest possible level: Between the top authorities of the two countries.
This is a major development in Greek-Turkish relations. But it could not have turned out differently.
The question now is what will Greece’ s strategy be from here on ? What next steps will it take?
Summit talks between countries facing problems are helpful as long as prepared well in advance and the participants have the will to solve them.
But they can also lead to – dangerous – deadlocks in relations, as seems to have occurred at the meeting between the Prime Minister of Greece Antonis Samaras and the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Recent statements by Erdogan on a visit to occupied part of Cyprus revealed his strategy. Erdogan made it clear that there is just one solution to the Cyprus problem: the division of Cyprus into two states.
In addition, he called the Moslem minority in Thrace “Turks,” and asked – not unreasonably in this regard – that Greece repair a mosque in Athens, where for better or worse, hundreds of thousands of Muslims live.
In my September 3 editorial which is titled, Let’s Pay Attention to Erdogan’s Statements, I concluded that the two countries are on a “collision course.”
When it was announced that Erdogan requested a meeting with Samaras, I expressed my concern and, unfortunately, I have been vindicated.
It is therefore clear that we are witnessing an attempt to exploit the financial crisis of Greece to “solve” its problems with Turkey, and it is very interesting that Turkey chose to officially show its teeth at a NATO summit.
The meeting went badly. Very badly. Think about it. They did not even spoke to the media nor issue a statement after the meeting.
Even after the 1986 meeting in Switzerland between Greek Premier Andreas Papandreou and Turkish Premier Turgut Ozal, where Andreas accepted things he should not have, they issued a joint communiqué.
This time, however, the Greek Prime Minister, Samaras, position honored the history of the country. And I say as someone that has not hesitated to criticize him. I have called a spade a spade.
His words to Erdogan that, “We are facing a real problem, real differences” on the Turkish President’s position on a two state solution is a bold, perhaps historic declaration.
That is how a Greek Prime Minister should respond. He could not do otherwise, no matter how much his statement complicates the situation.
And it does complicates the situation, a lot. Bravo Antoni!