Erdoğan’s chat with Greece’s PM: Is Athens waving the white flag? - MEHMET ACET

Erdoğan’s chat with Greece’s PM: Is Athens waving the white flag?

28 June 2020, 12.18

Could it be said that Greece’s threatening tone is being replaced by a discourse of negotiation? Looking at the statements made and certain developments in recent days, this seems to be the case.

As is known, Athens was incredibly perturbed by Turkey’s pursuit of its sovereignty rights in the Mediterranean and the subsequent serious steps taken to this end. As a matter of fact, at one point, they went as far as considering this situation as a “reason for war.”

Allow us to reiterate the words articulated by Greek Minister for Defense Nikos Panagiotopoulos: “We are preparing for any likely scenario. Of course, these include military intervention as well. We do not want to do this, but we want to make sure it is understood that we will do everything possible to protect our sovereignty rights at the maximum degree.”

This statement was made in early June – not even a month ago. So, it is still quite recent.

When asked about the Greek minister of defense’s threatening words, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had responded with the following statement, which set off a greater reaction in Greek media than in Turkish media:

“Greece is keeping itself busy with bluffs. How dare you diss Turkey? Do not cross the line. If you do, Turkey’s response is obvious.”

In a sense, Erdoğan was warning Greece to “back off.”

Note again that this statement occupied Greek media more than our own. In other words, it seems that those words were not taken lightly.

In the following days, we started seeing signs from Athens that they would not dare attempt to start a conflict with Turkey.

First, Alexis Tsipras spoke, addressing Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis: “Do as I did during my term as prime minister and start holding meetings with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.” Immediately after, the Greek administration shortly made a “U-turn” and changed both its tone and attitude.

Speaking at a fair held in Athens, Prime Minister Mitsotakis said during the second week of June: “Greece is always open to dialogue with Turkey regarding the determination of maritime zones. We can speak honestly and if, in the end, we agree not to agree, there is always the option to take the matter upon joint consent to the International Court, to The Hague – however, completely respectful to international law. It is not the time for Gambot diplomacy, such understandings belong to other centuries.”

“Let us sit down and chat, and if we cannot reach an agreement, we will go to court and let the court decide.”

This is the summary of what Mitsotakis said, which is an indication that the previous “defense” has been abandoned – at least for now.

A development occurred the day before, which is a physical reflection of this new approach presented by Greece.

President Erdoğan and the Greek prime minister spoke over the phone. What tangible results could a phone call really yield? However, a contact of this sort at least, is significant as it shows that Greece has had to change its harsh attitude (even if it was for tactical purposes) toward Turkey with respect to the East Mediterranean.

-It could be said that they realized attacking Turkey verbally with a tone that increases the risk of clash will have heavy consequences.

-It could be said that they ascertained Ankara would not hesitate in such a case (see President Erdoğan’s statement above).

-It could also be said that it seems a counterattack attitude against Greece is more effective than taking up defense.

Years ago, a scholar specializing in Greek matters and working in Turkey had said: “Though nobody here really cares, there is an unalterable attitude towards Turkey in everybody in Greece, from the president to the garbage man. We call this stance, ‘Turkeyphobia.’”

There are some periods where their minds are completely occupied with Turkey – which is the case recently as well. Could the reason underlying this be the sentiment mentioned above? It is possible.

As a result of these developments, we are faced with the need to further mull under what conditions and how Greece’s position against Turkey formed. Based on the information history provides us with, it can be discerned:

They are normally terror-stricken in the face of Turkey, of Anatolia. This is very clear. As in the East Mediterranean issue, they do not really ever have the courage to stand against Turkey.

Mitsotakis held a meeting with French President Emanuel Macron the other day too. It seems that they determined the agenda of the meeting with Erdoğan together. It is clear that Greece took heart from France and it was on these grounds that they dared to articulate such grandiloquent statements. Let us see what will follow.

  • Greece
  • Erdoğan
  • Turkey
  • Mediterranean