RIEAS | Research Institute for 
European and American Studies

(Special Correspondent)
Copyright: www.rieas.gr

This page has never adopted the peculiar, almost servile, language of “Greek-Turkish rapprochement,” so widely practiced by politicians of all hues, “realist” diplomats, and so many others posing as “learned” in Greek-Turkish affairs. Truth of the matter is that this language, springing from the thinly-veiled attempt of its practitioners to give Turkey credit where none is due in the hope of making Ankara less belligerent and hostile, has critically contributed to the construction of a virtual reality environment in Greek-Turkish relations.

Rude awakenings though abound when one forgets the hard facts of everyday life – like illegal immigration – and continues to speak in PC-game, fantastical terms as in the case of the “Greek-Turkish rapprochement” lingo. Suddenly, this story (in Greek) relates, Greece is appealing to the European Union to make tackling illegal immigration one of the criteria Turkey is required to meet as part of its bid to join Europe. Greek authorities, this story says, have realized (!) that Turkey not only ignores a bilateral protocol with Greece for the return of illegals originating in Turkey to Turkish shores, when they're caught trying to cross to Greek islands, but it also routinely aids and abets the human traffickers pushing the wretched throngs of Asians onto Greek soil.

What a surprise! Now that this country faces its keenest domestic crisis since the aftermath of WW2 because of the uncontrollable inflow of undocumented aliens from some of the world's worst basket case states, the Greek government has discovered that, yes, Turkey is primarily to blame as the well-oiled conduit for this non-stop invasion which, during 2008, shot up by nearly 75 percent in comparison to the previous year.

Appeals to the EU to chastise the Turks won't correct the crisis of course. Even if Greece's belated moans and groans receive a favorable ear in Brussels, the “common” European approach to foreign affairs is so badly fragmented and ineffective as to leave little, if any, room to apply real pressure on Ankara. Indeed, the Turks operate from a position of almost unassailable strength: with the Europeans tripping over their own tongues, and with the US eager not to rock the Turkish boat lest its own strategic interests suffer, Ankara can continue using illegal immigrants, as a long-term strategic weapon to destabilize Greece and promote its expansionism in the Aegean, practically unmolested.

There are precious few things that Greece may begin to do immediately to react to this burgeoning Turkish challenge. The least of these is to abandon right away the “Greek-Turkish rapprochement” lingo. Although symbolism is hardly as effective as accurate cannon fire, it does still play an important role in re-defining strategies and shaping national attitudes. Greece needs to re-acquire her sense of self-defense she has long pushed aside and almost castrated as part of her self-inflicted “European” experiment. To put it in locker room terms, Greece needs to begin psyching herself up for the fight that is being imposed on her – now.

 

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