The latest visit by Turkish prime minister Erdogan to Athens (October 22-23) -- the second in five months -- reconfirmed Turkey’s latest push to achieve an all-round bilateral pact that would establish the new state of affairs in the Aegean with Greece’s signature figuring prominently right above the dotted line.

Erdogan’s job is infinitely easier now that Greece groans under the combined effect of permanent economic collapse and the presence of George Papandreou in power. While bankruptcy makes Greece unable to conduct rudimentary tasks in many sectors, including defense and security, Papandreou’s well-established record of “internationalism” (often praised by Turkish columnists and NATO ‘allies’ to boot) not to mention his distinct eagerness to please re. Turkish demands for “even-handedness” in the Aegean, leave the gates wide open.

Turkey enjoys a new-found sense of purpose, based on a burgeoning economy and Erdogan's repeated successful blows upon the military establishment, and also the drive and sense of urgency of a country that re-discovers its imperial roots and its confidence in throwing its weight around in the presence of weak neighbors and indecisive “great powers” divided upon themselves.

Erdogan has artfully manipulated Turkey’s EU candidacy knowing full well that the European membership project is already dead. He continues though to use EU accession negotiations as leverage and, at the same time, taunts the European “partners” to tell Turkey straight out whether it wants the Muslim Turks as its citizens or not as the popularity of EU membership takes a nose dive inside Turkey.

In the face of this multifaceted, full-speed-ahead power strategy, George Papandreou, long dedicated to seeking “peace” through retreat, has very little to display other than offering more and more hours of “deliberation” with the Turks in search of a formula that would be “appropriate” in terms of presenting Greece’s electorate with a “good neighborly relations pact” that (a) will offer Turkey a free economic hand inside half of the Aegean replete as its is with Greek islands (b) will concur with Turkey on issues pertaining to the autonomy of the Muslim-”Turkish”minority populating Greece’s easternmost provinces and (c) will oblige Ankara with an open-ended agreement to undertake future “adjustments” according to the shift and whim of Turkish strategic interests.

Erdogan’s tactics are well rehearsed, doggedly pursued and very much aware of the opportunities presented by having Papandreou and his miniscule, but keenly positioned, “Greek-Turkish friendship” advocates as interlocutors. His latest Athens sojourn re-confirmed he is on the right path and that Papandreou, as always, on the wrong foot.

Economically exploiting the Aegean “jointly” with Turkey is tantamount to “relinquishing” the Archipelago to the Turks, Sir Basil Markesinis recently said . Such wise words though do not register at all with George Papandreou. His heart and his mind are otherwise occupied -- and this very simple fact will be producing more crippling mishaps for this country in its very strategic heart of the Aegean to add to Papandreou’s already august record as the one Greek prime minister who surrendered his country to foreign economic control without a shot being fired -- and who has been lauded for his earnest travails, in favor of those who wish to drain Greece’s full blood from its veins, as being “our man in Athens.

Our man in Athens, indeed.

Ankara listens.

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