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Editorial

Dramatic Movements in U.S.-Turkish Relations

Unprecedented changes are taking place in the U.S.-Turkish relations. Changes so dramatic that for decades they seemed like an illusory dream to Greek-Americans and others who struggled to convince U.S. governments that they could not rely on Turkey.

There is a lot of evidence to support this, but no article has made this change clearer than the one that appeared this week in the New York Times.

In the impressive report on Washington’s current review of U.S. relations with Turkey, an opinion of a "senior official" – he is not named, but it is probably Pompeo – is included in the context of the recent mooring of an American warship in Souda. The unnamed official says that, “last month’s basing of a U.S. Navy expeditionary ship at Souda Bay, off the Greek coast, signaled that Turkey was no longer the key U.S. ally in the Eastern Mediterranean,” implying that it is now Greece.

In another key paragraph of the article we see the following: “No longer restrained by President Trump’s affection for Turkey’s authoritarian leader, U.S. officials and Congress are using the waning days of his presidency to ready sanctions and strike a strident tone against the strategic but unreliable ally.”

These are extremely serious words. Of course, we must not take the policy of the new government for granted, despite Biden's close relationship with our Community.

Now, at the beginning of Biden’s tenure, his relations with Turkey will probably be tested, setting the tone for the next four years. That's why the first few months are so important.

Few are in a better position to assess the current international circumstances and opportunities – and challenges – that Greece faces than Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

A cosmopolitan man educated in America and with substantial experience in the private sector – in London – Mr. Mitsotakis is able to understand the international political currents and to formulate the right policy.

It is this competitive advantage that he has, not only within Greece – but also against his Turkish counterpart – that creates additional opportunities for him.

So he is following a two-pronged policy: Greater cooperation with America and seeking solidarity from his partners in the European Union. Otherwise what is the point of the EU if it does not support its members?

But he also knows that in the European Union, national interests of countries such as Germany take precedence over the interests of members like Greece and Cyprus. Nevertheless, he must exhaust all the options for putting as much pressure as possible on the EU regarding Turkey. Even if only weak sanctions are passed, making some noise at the expense of Turkey is something.
But the Prime Minister knows that the ‘game’ is really played in the United States of America.

That is where the power of armaments and espionage weigh most heavily. And economic and commercial power.

The real power of sanctions – in the extreme cases where they have been imposed, like Iran and North Korea – is that they brought those economies to their knees. That is what the balance of power still depends upon. And that is what determines whether we will see a negotiated solution or a possible military conflict.

So, now with the departure of Trump, the way is wide open for Greece.

But the window of opportunity is not inexhaustibly large.

 

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