With the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the U.S. Government via a formal statement from President Biden, Turkey sustained a symbolic, yet powerful blow that could signal the impending political downfall of ‘Sultan’ Tayyip Erdogan. The blow struck was in fact a combination punch, with the president making reference to “Constantinople,” not “Istanbul” in his statement.
In any event, this represents a remarkable shift by the U.S. political establishment, which began on the federal level in 2019, with Congress overwhelmingly passing a resolution recognizing the Genocide. Up until then, despite the wide success achieved by the Armenian lobby (recognition of the Armenian Genocide by a growing number of sovereign nations, U.S. states, international organization, and sensitization of public opinion through films, documentaries, media reports, and academic publications), recognition by the U.S. federal government always hit a snag, with Washington afraid of harming bilateral relations with Ankara.
This development must be capitalized upon, because it may trigger developments in the wider region of the Eastern Mediterranean. U.S. foreign policy continues to be designed on the mid-to-long range level by career officials in the State Department and Pentagon who guarantee continuity from administration to administration and handle affairs on a day-to-day basis. The tide already started turning in the U.S. following the coup(?) against President Erdogan in 2016, but the apparatus that shapes U.S. foreign policy resembles an oil tanker trying to make a turn, inasmuch as it needs a long time to reset its course.
It would appear that the decision to turn this oil tanker was taken some time ago, but is now finally being expressed at the highest level. The question that arises is what has sparked this decision? Is this a conscious reevaluation of geostrategic priorities for the U.S. or a reaction to the political emancipation of Mr. Erdogan, who seems determined not to return to the western fold?
The position taken by the U.S. in recent decades does not suggest the former, therefore, we must examine the latter. It looks as if the U.S. has decided to adopt a strategy of increased polarization with the Erdogan regime in order to dethrone the sultan.
Following the expulsion of Turkey from the joint production program for the F-35 aircraft and the inflation crisis currently ravaging the Turkish economy, this most recent blow has come to put the so-called regional power known as Turkey in check and personally humble the haughty Mr. Erdogan.
The apparent return to a Cold War climate with Russia and the rapidly growing geostrategic influence and power of China do not leave room for a Turkey that demands autonomy in the critical crossroads of the Mediterranean, Caucasus, and Middle East. The U.S. may have tolerated Turkish haggling so long as the final outcome was secure from the get-go, but this certainty seems to be a thing of the past.
Meanwhile, it has been proven beyond a shred of doubt that appeasement merely whets the voracious appetite of Mr. Erdogan and the bad company of Islamic fundamentalists and extreme nationalists that support him. Aside from this, it would be difficult for the West to take on Russia – especially on the Ukrainian front – with Moscow still benefitting from a strategic partnership with Ankara.
These developments must be studied by the formulators Greek foreign policy and the entities that express it in the Diaspora, because they bring both new opportunities, as well as new challenges. Firstly, this singular opportunity that presents itself to serve historic truth and inform the international community about the abominable crimes committed by Turkey against not only the Armenians, but also the Greeks and Assyrians, must not be lost. From the onset of the 20th century, Hellenism in Eastern Thrace, Pontus, and Asia Minor was systematically and methodically exterminated. The unspeakable massacres that were carried out, tearing out Hellenism from its ancient homes, and the heinous crimes associated with them constitute Genocide.
The recognition of these serial genocides committed by Turkey may also help Hellenism with current national issues (Cyprus, the Greek minority in Turkey and Albania, religious freedom for the Ecumenical Patriarchate) where Turkey is involved as an agent of oppression and an occupying force. Greece must not allow the political capital earned by Armenia to slip away, for historical as well as political reasons.
One obstacle toward the realization of this obvious goal is the obtuseness and ideological ankylosis of certain ethno-nihilistic circles that operate across the political spectrum in Greece. The refusal of some people to keep a moment of silence in Parliament some years ago in memory of the victims of the Pontian Genocide or to call the extermination of the Greeks of Anatolia a genocide is an affront to Hellenism worldwide and the memory of victims of (German inspired) Turkish barbarism.
Secondly, in the event that the West manages to remove Mr. Erdogan from power, we must ask ourselves precisely how it will sweeten the pot for the incoming administration and what baksheesh it will offer them to rejoin the Western sphere of influence. Especially if the issue of the formation of an independent Kurdish state is worked out, as expected, we must be on guard to ensure that a geopolitical consolation prize to appease Turkey is not sought in the form of the Aegean, Thrace, or Cyprus.
This demands an organized defense plan, as well as a multidimensional foreign policy. So long as relations between Washington and Moscow worsen, Greece must remain neutral, to the degree possible, in order to act as a bridge between the two powers and cash in on whatever diplomatic capital the trust mutually placed in her by these opposing heavyweights has to offer.
Nevertheless, the recognition of the Armenian Genocide must serve as a point of reference for Greek foreign policy, which must not waste this opportunity; because history, which does not forgive oversights, can be merciless.
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