Can Hellas Help Assemble a Mediterranean League to Reign-In the Turkish Rogue?

Twice this year, Turkey has pushed Greece to the brink. The weaponized trafficking of migrants in Evros back in March is now being followed by Turkish “piracy” inside Greece’s continental shelf and Exclusive Economic Zone. Both times, Turkey’s aggressive moves were checked by the determination of the Hellenic armed forces, and undoubtedly the Theotokos – Hellenism’s Champion General – whose major feasts are celebrated in March and August.

Throughout the centuries, Hellenes have dedicated the quintessence of their immense cultural treasure to magnifying the Mother of God, devoting hundreds of epithets and paeans of praise to her, along with churches and flower crowned icons dedicated to the “only hope of the hopeless” and the “succor of those under attack.” In turn, our collective history and empirical knowledge assures us that she has responded with her unfailing intercessions to her Son and miraculous aid during the bleakest of times.

All signs indicate an ultimate showdown with Turkey is beginning to seem increasingly unavoidable. Ankara’s decades-old policy of systematically challenging the status quo has reached new heights with its neo-Ottoman visions of regional hegemony. While the Mediterranean’s hydrocarbon-rich sea bed appears to motivate Turkey’s latest acts of piracy, it’s likely that its leader’s current delusional megalomania, as well as the free pass being issued by the West for much of the past century, is only increasing its appetite further.

Even if Greece’s political establishment – who are certainly not renowned for driving a hard bargain– were to try and appease Turkey by agreeing to a revenue share of the newfound energy resources or an EEZ that runs contrary to the clear-cut formula prescribed by the Law of the Sea entitling Greece to an EEZ that borders with Cyprus’, the only thing they would achieve would be to delay Ankara’s ultimate plans – at a very heavy cost. Make no mistake, Turkey wants Greece and Cyprus’ share of hydrocarbons, but it won’t stop there. It wants to turn these sovereign nations into vassals at best, or at worst into extensions of its own territory, with its 21st century version of the Nazi concept of “Lebensraum,” just like it is trying to do with Syria and Libya.

Hence, even Greece’s politicians, who have unsuccessfully enacted a policy of appeasement since at least 1996 – following the Imia showdown (but essentially earlier, when Greece failed to extend in territorial waters and air space to the new international standard in the face of Turkish threats) – will be hard pressed to kowtow any further, because they can’t even be assured of running the cronyist system that has proven so profitable to the ruling class in the post-WWII years.

Sadly, there are still those who will try to spin the Turkish threat to their advantage, but their motives will increasingly start coming into question. Even the most hardheaded ideologue who sees nationalism (the left’s forbidden word, as if it were any more dangerous than globalism) behind any reference to patriotism would be hard pressed to argue that Greece is facing a hybrid war and must defend its sovereignty or cease existing as a free state. And even the staunchest pro-EU neo-liberal internationalist will be forced to admit that in today’s German-dominated EU the sense that Greece will be left to fend for itself in the event of an episode is eerily widespread. German diplomatic ties with Turkey run deep and its financial interests there would at best secure a wobbly seat for Athens on an uneven negotiating table with Ankara, where it would have to perpetually lease peace in exchange for its sovereign rights. Brussels won’t waste any bullets to defend its most vulnerable member states, nor will it risk jeopardizing the financial interests of the banks and industries that this bloc truly represents.

The only European power that seems interested in checking the advances of the Turkish rogue state is France, which sees its own interests in the Mediterranean being threatened. This is fortunate, because France represents the EU’s largest military and the third-biggest in NATO. It possesses the military and political weight to make its voice heard in the EU, but also in NATO, which plays the role of Pontius Pilate in Greek-Turkish showdowns. This is an important lesson for Greece to remember, especially after it capitulated to longstanding pressure to allow Skopje to join NATO, in exchange for nothing. A repetition of the same mistake now will only exacerbate its problems and make it more vulnerable.

Over a century ago, Greece was able to secure Macedonia, Epirus, portions of Thrace and the islands of the northern Aegean by joining an alliance against the Ottoman Empire and the Young Turks who had already began exterminating other ethnicities. Although it was not considered the most powerful nation in the Balkan League, it came out as the biggest victor of the Balkan Wars, doubling in size and settling important territorial issues that would have inevitably arisen in the coming years.

The time is ripe for a revival of such a league, focusing this time on the Mediterranean region. By cooperating militarily with nations like France, Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Syria, and partnering with groups like the LNA and the Kurds, Greece can turn the tables on Turkey and direct the collective might of the alliance to thwart Erdogan’s neo-Ottoman visions.

The risks arising from calling Turkey’s bluff are far outweighed by those associated with appeasement and allowing other world powers to dictate the negotiating terms.

Follow me on Twitter @CTripoulas


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