Where Is the NATO Unity?

It is shouted in many ways and at every opportunity that one of the great positives that emerged from the Russian invasion of Ukraine is the forging of greater unity among the countries that make up NATO.

Indeed, in general, NATO countries appear to be united in the greatest crisis that has gripped Europe since World War II.

It should be noted, however, that it was NATO’s expansion to the border with Russia and the risk, for Russia, that Ukraine would be included in that body that provided the justification for the current crisis.

Moreover, the umbrella of protection offered by NATO through paragraph 5 of the Atlantic Charter is so attractive – where it is emphasized that an attack against one member is an attack on all its members – that now even countries that have traditionally maintained neutrality towards the Western alliance and Russia are said to be considering applying for membership.

And while that is happening, and while there is evidence that the war is spreading, and while the use of nuclear weapons no longer seems to be taboo, as it once was, Turkey, a NATO member, is increasingly and aggressively violating the sovereignty of another member of NATO, Greece. I am referring, of course, to the dozens of overflights of Turkish warplanes over Greek territory in recent days. Violations that were both larger and more aggressive than before.

What is NATO doing about this?

Of course, Greece treats the whole situation with the seriousness that befits it. The Greek Prime Minister contacted the Secretary General of NATO and demanded an immediate end to the encroachment on Greek sovereignty.

The relevant ministries of foreign affairs and defense did the same.

However, as necessary as those actions are, they do not solve the problem, for the simple reason that the Turks do not consider that they are violating the sovereignty of Greece.

And while they may stop for a while, as they have often done for years now, they will come back even harder, as they did just a few days ago.

I repeat that they are doing this, according to Erdogan’s declarations, because they claim that they are acting within the framework of the agreements between the two countries and ‘International Law’ – matters he cites selectively, oversimplifies, and even distorts.

In the meantime, overflights have another cost for Greece: Their repetition creates a sense of acquiescence by Greece, a kind of acceptance by NATO, even a precedent that although it is not recognized by anyone but themselves, is not without its practical and rhetorical value, weakening Greece’s diplomatic force. These tactics are repeated with Cyprus. What is illegal today in the eyes of tomorrow will be a bargaining chip in Ankara’s hand to secure something else.

On top of that, Turkey is asking to buy new F-16s and upgrade what they already have, which, if that happens, will upset the balance of power between the two countries.

One really wonders how much longer this situation can continue before it leads to a conflict between the two countries.

So if NATO really wants to be united and effective in the face of the Russian threat, let it start by putting its own house in order.

The constant retreats of the Turkish President after unacceptable actions against the sovereign rights of Greece may postpone the day of the crisis, but it now seems almost certain that it cannot be avoided forever.


To the Editor: As the year comes to a close with more prayers for things like peace and health and prosperity than usual, I think this is a good time to note the good things that happened in 2022.

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