There are – there must be – limits to patience with the Turks. Not just for reasons of national dignity – which is more than enough in itself – but also to ensure, if there is space for achieving it, peace. For, as we know from not-so-ancient history, giving in to outrageous demands from unpredictable, anachronistic and undemocratic adversaries has the opposite effect from that intended.
The leadership of the Greek Coast Guard vessel did well, therefore, to fire warning shots, in the air, against a Turkish vessel that was performing “dangerous maneuvers aimed at ramming” it, according to a statement from the Coast Guard headquarters.
The fact that a Greek warship fired shots – even in the air – against a Turkish vessel is an event of major importance.
It is a further deterioration in relations between the two states that could even had lead to a hot incident if the Turkish side returned fire.
At the same time, however, it is the most convincing indication of Greece’s determination, confidence and trust in its armed forces.
Obviously, the orders that the Turkish naval forces have are different from those of the Greek naval forces. That is why the Turkish vessel did not return fire, even in the air, as the Greek vessel did.
And, in any case, based on this fact, the Turkish Defense Minister’s response to the incident does not correspond to reality. “We will not,” he said, “leave any provocation unanswered. We have given this instruction to every unit of the Armed Forces. We are not going to harass, we are not going to violate, but we are not going to tolerate any provocation against us.”
Apparently the Turkish vessel that harassed the Greek vessel, to a dangerous degree, had not received the order to which the Turkish Minister refers. Otherwise they would have had to be shot.
The Turkish side is obliged to react for reasons of political expediency.
It will be difficult for their public opinion to let this go unnoticed.
Meanwhile, the Greek Prime Minister chose to visit the island of Gavdos –south of Crete- and the President of the Hellenic Republic visited the island of Lemnos –in the northern Aegean- sending another strong message to Ankara about Athens’ determination to defend its national sovereignty.
It has been said many times – and in this column – that a hot incident between Greece and Turkey could be caused by an accident. The downing of an airplane by a young pilot on the edge, the sinking of a boat, or an exchange of fire leaving behind dead bodies on the Evros border.
It’s therefore time for the President of Turkey to put an end to his unacceptable rhetoric as well as to the violations of Greece’s sovereignty.
Otherwise it’s only a question of time before a war breaks out between Greece and Turkey.