Guest Viewpoints

The Stance of the West Is Crucial: The Greek World Is Confronting the Authoritarian Threat in the Mediterranean

August 14, 2020
By Dr. Polyvia Parara

These are critical moments: behind Turkey's arbitrariness, aggression, and violation of international law, one should not fail to see what is really at stake, and that is the integrity of the free man. The world is witnessing again the authoritarian threat challenging a democratic state.

Autocracy, expansionism, and intolerance have been revived in Turkey. Neo-Ottomanism implements a long-term plan on the grounds of religious fanaticism. If the plan of the new Xerxes continues to deploy, many dire events will follow to the detriment of humanity. Thucydides emphasizes that “History is an eternal possession.” Everyone has to read history very carefully.

The West should better understand what is at stake in a timely manner and take action immediately with a decisive and strong position by the side of Greece. Those who desecrate without any sense of awe universal symbols of piety for humanity are the same ones who treat human beings savagely. Turkey’s historical record includes genocides. Historical memory is fresh from the holocausts of the twentieth century. First, the Ottomans, then the Neo-Turks crucified and impaled the Armenians, then they exterminated the Greeks of Pontus, and finally, they burned Smyrna and crushed the Hellenism of the coasts of Asia Minor. This is how Christian martyrs were uprooted from Asia Minor by the Turks.

A few years later the Holocaust of the Jews by the authoritarian rule followed. The West cannot pretend today that it is not fully aware of these martyrdoms. During the interwar period, the West did not understand that the snake’s egg was being incubated. This lack of action by the West entailed the holocaust and the millions of dead.

The new Xerxes violates international law once more. The West must show solidarity to Greece by enforcing international law and pushing Turkey back to its maritime territories. The era of empires belongs to the past. Neo-Ottomanism has no place in the 21st century unless the Western powers wish to see a neo-Ottoman empire to be re-established next to their borders and interests. The West has to think twice about what is at stake since war is not waged anymore with swords and gunpowder. I do not want to believe that the West is so naive to believe that their financial interests will be enough to contain such an Islamic force if it grows.

The West has the power to stop the neo-Ottoman bigotry and arbitrariness immediately since the new Xerxes imagines himself as a neo-sultan by consolidating authoritarianism and his religion as an authority spreading to the world. The new Xerxes destroys every democratic voice in his country by executing, torturing, and imprisoning all his fellow citizens who articulate a word of humanity and democracy.

The West must understand that no trust can be invested in those who understand themselves as political-religious authorities by the means of violence and subjugation, arbitrarily and against the international law, by annihilating free man's integrity. For half a century now, Turkey has been allowed to violate international law in Cyprus and to destroy people. It was not a successful assessment from the part of the West tolerating Turkey in doing so because Turkey's arbitrariness grows bigger when is tolerated to violate.

Two worlds are facing each other again. On one hand, the anthropocentric democratic Greek world shared its values with the West and on the other hand, the authoritarian phenomenon of neo-Ottomanism with the new Xerxes's plan of arbitrary expansionism in the Mediterranean Sea. The Greek word is the vanguard again and the West must stand in solidarity by Hellenism.

The anthropocentric Greek world of bravery and freedom addressed to Xerxes, "Come and get it," through heroic Leonidas. And from antiquity until today, the Greek world has always phrased it during its long history, in order to defend citizens' integrity. The Greeks do not measure their actions by the one hundred years lifespan; they measure their actions by humanistic values. The Greeks are the mother of the democratic citizen and that's why they are always ready to fight to defend this ideal with self-denial. The West must also stand in solidarity by Hellenism to defend this ideal. The West owes it to Hellenism.

Polyvia Parara holds a PhD in Hellenic Studies and teaches at the University of Maryland College Park. [email protected]


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