This past weekend, Mr. Tsipras took two public, powerful symbolic actions, which were clearly planned to impact public opinion.
First, he suspended his re-election campaign and returned to his office in Athens, and second, he convened, on Sunday afternoon, the Governmental Council for Foreign Affairs and Defense (KYSEA).
It is clear that the country was facing a national crisis due to the commencement of drilling by Turkey, according to the Turkish Foreign Minister, in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Cyprus.
So we were anxious to hear about the measures they decided upon.
Indeed, the Prime Minister, after the conclusion of the meeting, made statements to the assembled journalists, the main point of them being: “The message we want to send today is, on the one hand, what I have already said, to assure the people that they are totally safe , and at the same time to send the message that anyone who violates the sovereign rights of Greece, or who violates the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus, a member state of the EU, or who violates International Law in the region, will have to face consequences (συνέπειες) .”
The threat that the actions of the Turks will have “consequences” is not as dramatic as Andreas Papandreou’s “Sink the Hora” (a reference to a Turkish research vessel that violated Greek territorial waters in the 1970s), but it did have a definite threatening tone.
So what will the consequences be?
The Prime Minister could have added that there will be “consequences” he could not disclose, hinting that they will be of a military nature.
But that was not the case.
Instead, he declared that the country will be supported through its multilateral partnerships, in particular, several new tripartite and multilateral partnerships of Greece and Cyprus in the Southeast Mediterranean region – that is to say that Israel will come to our defense.
He also assured that there will a strong response from Europe…in the form of statements condemning Turkey.
“We will move,” he said, “to prepare the ground next week for a Summit” … “to make the right decisions, including the adoption of sanctions if it is confirmed that drilling has taken place.”
Honestly, when I hear such words, I recoil from our inability to learn from the past.
Every time we are in danger, we wait for someone else to save us. I’m not saying that alliances are not very useful. They are.
However, it is delusional to believe, for example, that France will go to war with Turkey for our sake.
But since the problems are longstanding – dating back many decades – we should have made sure not only that the country did not go bankrupt, but that it had a strong economy, which is the only real foundation for strong national security. A country with Turkey as a neighbor should never have stumbled in its economic development and fiscal soundness.
And since the situation is well known, we should stay away from the issue of our oil and gas reserves, and not deceive ourselves that once we brought in foreign oil companies, the Turks would back off.
So what should we do?
The new government that will emerge from the July 7 elections will have an urgent national mission: to give a big boost to the economy at the earliest so that the country will be able to invest in its national defense.
Meanwhile, Turkey cannot be allowed to drill without some kind of a response.
The least that Greece can do is to resort to the UN Security Council.
Of course, Mr. Tsipras avoided confirming or denying that the Turks are now drilling because if he confirmed it, then we would be talking about another level of responsibilities and actions.
And, of course, he will go down in history as the Prime Minister that Turkey drilled on his watch.