I have been observing – from the moment Turkish President Erdogan opened his “border gates” with Greece to migrants/refugees in late February – former Prime Minister and opposition leader Alexis Tsipras, and have noted that he has remained silent.
He has not been indulging in his usual attacks on the government.
And not only that. In his interview with the Mega channel, he took a big step in the right direction: he supported the government, saying Mitsotakis did well to close the border.
It was his latest somersault – but a welcome one.
My reaction to this encouraging development included remembering an earlier commentary of mine, made in late February, when I said that given the serious challenges facing the country, what matters most is unity of the home front, a priceless good, which seems to be secure so far.
So, in the face of the greatest crisis Greece has faced, at least since the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, here, the Greek people are standing united. And that is an important national achievement. The patriotic decisions of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis played a decisive role in producing this national achievement.
For example, his decision to close the border was nationally necessary. And effective. And of course, we believe it was designed in a way that it both safeguards the human rights of the migrants and honors the civilized character of the Greek and his brilliant history.
That is why we believe that the March 10 New York Times’ article – two whole pages – if true, which unfortunately is supported by video and photographic footage, represents few, isolated and undisciplined actions from the members of the Greek defense forces.
However, the vital internal unity could not have been achieved without the positive role played by the official opposition. Without it, of course, we wouldn’t even be able to talk about unity.
Specifically, with his recent statements, Tsipras went even further than in his interview with Mega. Judge for yourself:
“(Erdogan) talks about our country everywhere with extreme language. He compares us to the Nazis and tries to paint an image of a lawbreaker country that does not respect international law.”
And he goes on to say: “I do not know if he is doing this to prepare public opinion in his country for aggressive actions against Greece or is simply bargaining for more support from the European leadership. What I do know is that he goes too far given that Turkey illegally occupies northern Cyprus and part of Syria, and is constantly violating international law in the region, and has leaders who commit human rights violations on a daily basis, and yet he plays the honorable one and attempts to look down on Greece regarding Human Rights and International Law.”
And here’s the essence of the matter: “Whatever mistakes the current government has made in managing the refugee crisis, the attitude of Turkey and Erdogan can be described in a single phrase: ‘shameful audacity,’ and our country must respond in a coordinated and decisive way to this audacity. Without nationalistic crowns and spasms, but with patriotic responsibility.”
“No challenge” of Erdogan, “will achieve its goal, no violation of our sovereign rights should be left unanswered. Greece has been and will remain a synonym for freedom, solidarity, and democracy. It was and will remain on the right side of History.”
With its home front united, Greece is now able to meet any challenge the Turkish President is preparing. And that is an important national achievement.