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Letter from Athens: The French Disconnection: Greece's, Cyprus' Ally Against Turkey

Αssociated Press

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is welcomed by French President Emmanuel Macron to a emergency summit in Porticcio, Corsica island, Thursday Sept.10, 2020. (Ludovic Marin/Pool Photo via AP)

Unless Popeye Doyle is thrown into the deal, France's aligning itself with Greece to keep Turkey from seizing the East Mediterranean, Aegean, and probably the Atlantic Ocean isn't the big deal it's being made out to be, but we'll take it.

Turkey has Russia and Greece has France, which already backed down to Turkey when a French frigate that was part of a NATO operation in the Mediterranean turned tail after a Turkish warship illuminated the French ship with targeting radar.

The frigate, the Courbet, wanted to see if a cargo ship the Turkish war boat was escorting was carrying arms to Libya, Turkey having made a maritime deal with that country to divide the seas between them and claim waters around Greek islands.

Turkey backs a Useless Nations-recognized government in Libya while Greece supports a rebel faction in another part of the country, and just to muddy the waters a bit more, France, Greece, and Turkey belong to NATO, which should be changed to ZERO because it has done nothing to stop Turkish provocations in the seas.

ZERO Secretary-General Jens ‘Jello’ Stoltenberg stood frozen when Turkey bought S-400 missile systems from Russia – the prime enemy of the defenseless alliance – which could undermine its own weapons and be used against Greece.

Apart from the noble heroism of its resistance fighters in World War II – much like those in Greece against the Nazis – France isn't exactly known for walking tall in a conflict, preferring to say, “table for 100,000?” when challenged.

But since the Eunuch Union is afraid of Turkish Sultan Recep Tie-them-Up Erdogan and exempted him from soft sanctions for sending ships to drill off Cyprus and doing nothing about Turkish ships off the Greek island of Kastellorizo, Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis turned his eyes toward Paris.

French President Emmanuel Macron doesn't want Turkey to become a member of the EU, which it has been trying to do since 2005, that prospect over after Erdogan purged civil society, the military, judiciary, and education system and has jailed dozens of journalists since a failed 2016 coup attempt against him.

Greece and Cyprus still mistakenly support Turkey's bid, believing it will appease Erdogan. How's that worked out?

He's reacted by letting human traffickers keep sending refugees and migrants to Greece during an essentially suspended 2016 swap deal with the bloc and mocked EU leaders who should be required to carry pudding in their wallets for identification.

Let's hope the French are made of better stuff and that Macron is up to the task and won't disconnect from Greece if the hot waters of the East Med bring a conflict or Greece will be on its own.

The EU has no military and a policy of “soft power,” a contradiction in terms. NATO will play war games on computers in Brussels and look the other way while two alleged allies duke it out.

The UN will hold a conference about the battle in a couple of years at a swell dinner session in New York with some fava beans and a nice chianti. The United States will either do nothing or back Turkey because Erdogan is President Psycho's idol.

The French may not be willing to use their weapons and you can still get a great deal online on French WWII rifles that have never been used and only dropped once, but they can sell them to Greece, which is looking to buy up to 20 Dassault-built Rafale jets that cost about 74 million euros ($87.52 million) each so that could wind up costing Greece, which is struggling to deal with the economic aftermath of COVID-19, as much as much as 1.48 billion euros ($1.75 billion.)

Greece in December, 2019 entered into a $279.7 million deal with the US' Lockheed-Martin to upgrade its aging F-16 fighter jets but still has only 620 aircraft compared to Turkey's 1,351 although Erdogan's military purge deprived him of pilots and Greek fighter jet pilots are probably the best in NATO so the 2-1 margin could be neutralized.

Besides the jets, Greece also wants to buy more warships, including French frigates (France can keep the Courbet which can, however, turn around fast and flee) and is trying to work out the budget in the defense sector that was hammered during a near decade-long economic and austerity crisis.

The French have offered diplomatic help too and everyone knows they're great talkers, even if it's limited to love songs, but so far they are backing Mitsotakis' call for the EU to get tough with sanctions unless Turkey pulls back its ships before a Sept. 24-25 showdown with the bloc's alleged leaders.

France said the stretch leading up is the best chance to avoid a conflict. “It’s up to the Turks to show that this matter ... can be discussed,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told France Inter radio.

“If so, we can create a virtuous circle for all the problems on the table,” he said, adding that EU leaders have already discussed “the range of reprisals we could take with regards to Turkey” if the Turks don't pull back their ships. And concluded by noting, “we are not short of options, and he knows that,” in reference to Erdogan. Now let's just hope Turkey doesn't turn on the targeting radar.