Rhetoric between Greece and Turkey heats up

by omouggos

Don’t let the roses fool you, the relationship between Greece and Turkey is not rosy. (image from hurriyet.com)

Under the best of times the relationship between Greece and Turkey is rocky to say the least, but as of late the situation appears to be worsening. In an attempt to deal with the problems facing both countries, the Prime Ministers of Greece and Turkey, Alexis Tsipras and Ahmet Davutoğlu, met on March 8 in the Turkish city of İzmir, once known as Smyrna.[1]

Apparently this meeting was unsuccessful in reducing tensions between the two countries as it has spawned some strident rhetoric especially from Greek politicians. For example the Greek Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Dimitris Mardas was not overly impressed by Davutoğlu’s stance with respect to repeated Turkish incursions of Greek airspace.

During a radio interview pertaining to this matter Mardas surprisingly said “We do not accept those specific Turkish positions. Diplomatically, just like we are proceeding and we can’t see any other way…Otherwise, war![2]

Then there was the outburst of Eleftherios Synadinos during a session of the European Parliament.[3] Synadinos, a Greek MEP representing the ultra-nationalist, some may say neo-nazi, Golden Dawn party (Χρυσή Αυγή) said the following:

“As it has been expressed in scientific literature, the Turks are dirty and polluted. Turks are like wild dogs when they play but when they have to fight against their enemies they run away. The only effective way to deal with the Turks is with decisive and resolute attitudes.”

For such disparaging remarks towards Turks, Synadinos was expelled from the European Parliament by its President Martin Schulz.

To ensure that controversial statements were not limited to Greek politicians, the Turkish Finance Minister Naci Ağbal recited an inflammatory poem before the Turkish Parliament. One of the verses was “No prayer is heard anymore, the cross on the pulpit. The infidel Greek placed his flag all over the mosques. Come brother, hand in hand to bomb and silence the bells [i.e. Greek church bells]. The bells are silent.[4]

Maybe we are dealing with bluster and empty rhetoric, but one wonders where such sentiments will lead. Is it possible that Turkey and Greece may actually have a military conflict with one another?

From a certain perspective such an eventuality seems unlikely. Greece is experiencing a sustained economic crisis, which is likely to only intensify, and it is becoming overwhelmed by migrants who are trapped in Greece due to the closure of borders by other European countries. Turkey, is preoccupied with a low grade counter insurgency war against the Kurdish PKK and has the very real prospects of militarily intervening in Syria and potentially going to war with Russia.

With such problems besetting both Greece and Turkey it would appear to be inopportune for the two to fight each other any time in the near future. However, the timing of war is seldom rationally chosen. The mutual animosity both countries have for each other is intense enough to override any rational considerations and cause the outbreak of armed conflict.

With this in mind, it is still seems unlikely that Greece and Turkey will go to war with each other in the near future and it especially seems unlikely that Tsipras, notwithstanding the comments of his deputy minister Mardas, would seriously consider war with Turkey. Yet, as Greek society becomes further destabilized by the economic and migrant crises, and as Turkey continues its provocative violations of Greek airspace, it is possible, under such societal conditions, for Golden Dawn to rise to power in Greece (just re-study 1930’s Germany and Hitler’s rise to power).

If such a political scenario were to unfold in Greece, then with Golden Dawn at the helm, war with Turkey would be much more likely.

O Mouggos


[1] http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/greek-pm-tsipras-in-izmir-for-talks-with-davutoglu.aspx?pageID=238&nID=96181&NewsCatID=510

[2] http://en.protothema.gr/if-diplomacy-fails-with-turkey-then-war-is-an-option-says-greek-minister-mardas/

[3] http://en.protothema.gr/eu-president-schulz-expels-golden-dawn-mep-for-racist-rhetoric/ , http://shoebat.com/2016/03/11/german-european-parliament-president-martin-schulz-throws-greek-eu-parliament-representative-without-debate-calls-racist-said-turkey-untrustworthy-needs-trea/

[4] http://en.protothema.gr/turkish-finance-minister-agbal-recites-hate-filled-poem-against-greeks-in-turkish-parliament/