The spring sun that covers Greece today cannot disperse the new threatening clouds that were added to the already-strained relations between Greece and Turkey after the public conflict of two so-called “friends,” the foreign ministers of the two countries.
The initial pride Greeks may have felt about Dendias' ‘lecturing’ of Cavusoglu has given way to second thoughts.
Many are wondering: What went wrong? How is it possible that a meeting for which they had been preparing for so long could turn into a public clash?
And what will be the consequences?
There is no dispute that Dendias did the right thing by clarifying the issue of the Turkish minority in Greece that was raised by Cavusoglu.
The real issue lies in the fact of just how much of the text Dendias wrote himself. It was obviously prepared prior to the meeting of the foreign ministers which creates questions.
If one wants to look at the substance of the matter, that is, whether the public conflict between the two Foreign Ministers was in the national interest, and how effective that move was, one must ask some questions:
What was the purpose of the meeting?
If the purpose of the meeting was to defuse the tension in relations between the two countries, then it can only be characterized as a great failure.
But if the purpose of the meeting was to highlight Dendias' political leadership profile, then, at least in the short term, it should be described as a major success. But one of the questions that remains is – at what national cost?
Today, the relations between the two countries are worse than they were.
Today, the international press and foreign governments are focused on the clash of the two ministers and the problems it caused, and not on the original purpose of the meeting.
Among other things, however, contrary to the atmosphere that was developing prior to the meeting of the foreign ministers, the style and tone of the conflict last week makes a meeting between the Greek Prime Minister and the Turkish President unlikely.
There may not be a precedent for a similar public conflict between the foreign ministers of two countries, such as the one between Dendias and Cavusoglu.
And if that was the goal, if that is government policy, then – no problem. But was it? Is this really the government's policy, and does it serve the national interest?
It is self-evident that every Greek representative will defend and promote our national interest and our national dignity in the best possible way.
But if Dendias' goal was to ‘squeeze’ his counterpart, to force him to publicly admit that the Turkish claims are unacceptable – which they certainly are – then he should change his advisors.
Because the opposite result was achieved: It gave Cavusoglu the opportunity, in fact, helped him to characterize as inadmissible the statements of the Greek Foreign Minister, further hardening the positions of the Turks.
In short, after the crisis last year between Greece and Turkey, which reached the brink of war and was avoided only thanks to the successful handling of it by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, dialogue – which is a permanent policy of friends and opponents – was agreed upon, and began at a time Greece considered most appropriate as a first attempt to solve some problems.
If the goal of the Greek government, however, was to increase the tension in relations, then why send Dendias to Ankara in the first place?
Because, of course, you do not enter into dialogue to intensify problems, but to relieve them.
So, after the public conflict between the two ministers, we have a new relationship between the two countries, one that is worse off than it was before.
The Turks with their unacceptable claims have deeply provoked the pride, dignity, and patriotism of the Greeks, with the result that today there is a general satisfaction with what Dendias told them.
Whether this is also smart diplomacy, if in this way the national interests were served, will be seen in the future. When the feeling of euphoria has faded.
As for Dendias, many in Athens believe he acted as a politician rather than as foreign minister.
The kind of theatre that, unfortunately, we have experienced in the past…