GR US

Letter from Athens: Turkey Pours Hard Rain on Greece's French Umbrella

Αssociated Press

French President Emmanuel Macron, left, welcomes Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021 at the Elysee Palace in Paris. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

Relying on the French to back you up in a conflict is like counting on President Thump to watch your back in a street fight because both will be gone like the wind before you can say “conspiracy theory.”

That discounts the bravery of the French Resistance during World War II, but you know how myths persist and resist reason – just try talking to any of the single-cell troglodyte acolytes of the former President Psycho.

But Greece feels a lot safer today after a 2.9-billion euro ($3.36 billion) agreement with France to buy three frigate warships and an option for a fourth, after an earlier 2.5-billion euro ($2.9 billion) deal for 18 Rafale fighter jets.

That's12 used and six new – as part of a burgeoning arms program to counter Turkish imperialist ambitions.

But the key part of the deal that has Turkish Sultan Recep Tayyip Erdogan shivering almost as much as he was laughing is a mutual defense pact that requires France and Greece to come to each other's aid if attacked.

No one had the guts to say it was over Turkey, but maybe Greece should be prepared if the Faroe Islands tries to invade France, who should keep watch on the shores of Normandy for Vikings too. Don't worry, Greece will respond.

This charade that Turkey isn't the reason for the deal is part of the continuing ruse by diplomats and politicians who don't want to irk the volatile Erdogan. He thinks he's a reincarnation of Sultan Mehmet II, who conquered Constantinople in 1453. It's now Istanbul but Greeks still call it Constantinople.

Adding to the timidity of the Eunuch Union, which quakes when thinking of confronting Erdogan, the deal scared a number of countries whose leaders hid under a rock when hearing about it.

Germany, home to 2.774 million people of Turkish heritage and a major arms supplier to Turkey, said France can't be an arms supplier to Greece. But maybe the Germans are sore they didn't think of selling more weapons to Greece.

Critics of the deal – led by Turkey, of course – said that it also undermines NATO, the Non-Defense Alliance to which Greece, Turkey, and France belong. But there was no mention of Turkey buying an S-400 missile defense system from Russia – NATO's ideological enemy.

That compromises NATO alleged defenses and can be used against Greece in a conflict, so this deal is a real brain teaser for countries whose competing permanent interests clash because none have any permanent friends.

Political leaders are just like professional athletes who would change uniforms during a game and play for the other side if offered more money, and Germany would be happy to play Yojimbo and work for both sides.

French President Emmanuel Macron and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, deflecting any talk of Turkey – which fooled no one – said the EU should think about having a military capability. That maybe makes sense because NATO doesn't as it's a political alliance which refused to intervene over repeated Turkish violations of Greek air space and waters and is led by an invertebrate, former Norwegian premier Jens ‘Jello’ Stoltenberg.

“When we are under pressure from powers, which at times harden, we need to react and show that we have the power and capacity to defend ourselves. Not escalating things, but protecting ourselves,” Macron told a news conference alongside Mitsotakis.

“This isn’t an alternative to the United States alliance. It’s not a substitute, but to take responsibility for the European pillar within NATO and draw the conclusions that we are asked to take care of our own protection,” Macron said.

Just who the EU has to worry about is a dark horse of another color because Turkey has fruitlessly been trying to join since 2005 and will never get in although it's just as corrupt as Montenegro, which is closer to being accepted.

A complication over the deal is that while France's Naval Group won the bid, America's Lockheed lost, despite sweetening the pot, and the agreement came just before the re-signing of a U.S.-Greece mutual defense agreement too.

Greek Defense Minister Nikos Dendias said, “our agreement with France is a purely defensive agreement. It is not aimed at anyone,” adding that Greece signed a similar agreement last year with the United Arab Emirates.

“Turkish objections are totally unacceptable,” he said, finally raising the specter no one wanted to talk about, and it didn't take long for Turkey to respond with its usual verbal belligerence that's so trite it's almost novel.

Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic denounced what he called “Greece’s maximalist maritime jurisdiction and air space claims.”

He said the French-Greek deal is a bilateral military alliance formed against fellow NATO member Turkey “in a way that harms the NATO alliance,” showing that it's Turkey that's the target of the deal that Greece and France wouldn't admit.

“Greece’s policy of armament, isolating, and alienating Turkey is a problematic policy which will cause harm to itself and the European Union, and threaten regional peace and stability,” Bilgic said.

That rather misses the point, because it's Turkey that has brought a near conflict and raising the likelihood again with plans to hunt for energy off Greek islands while claiming the seas like pirates.

Don't worry, Greece. France has your back.