Greece under pressure as Turkey tensions add to travails

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Sadly, this is a difficult time for Greece, and a journalist does not need to label it as such to be understood.

Greece is once again on the verge of an international incident, if not full-on conflict, with Turkey at the same time as there is an uncontrollable outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic which will test the population and our public health infrastructure. All this under the shadow of the destruction which ravaged the island of Evia last weekend.

If we also consider the economic problems which will become widely felt in early autumn, it becomes clear what kind of conjuncture of events the country is facing. That is, to be under the threat of war, while facing a pandemic and an imminent economic downturn.

That is the new reality for Greece, and it remains to be seen how prepared we are to withstand these pressures. Firstly, we do not know how heated the tensions with Turkey will get. Second, the predictions regarding the pandemic are not hopeful as the behaviour of parts of the population – both here and in other Western nations – is not helping. Finally, on the domestic level there appears to be no consensus, but rather the opposite.

In essence, there is an observable lack of consensus and unity during these difficult times. Syriza-supporting media and party executives are not even attempting to hide their joy at the reports of increasing coronavirus cases, while the party leaders also expressed their intention to criticise the maritime boundaries demarcation agreement with Egypt before even reading the full text (there is, however, an internal disagreement on this issue brought by the so-called Group of 53), and the criticism of the Pissarides report was borderline ridiculous. It is now clear that Syriza exudes a spirit of immediate revanchism.

On the other hand, the truth is that in Greece the opposition was never known for its restraint, and as such we should not expect any miracles from Syriza.

The hardest thing in this situation is for there to be a correct assessment of Greek-Turkish developments, which currently pose the main threat. The Greek-Egyptian agreement took Ankara by surprise and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan returned to using power politics against Greece – something which he never really abandoned, notwithstanding the intervention of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The conflicting statements by Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavuşoğlu, who claims that the Greco-Egyptian agreement assists Turkey and at the same time that the islands do not have a continental shelf, shows that Turkish foreign policy is not grounded in logic, and that is extremely dangerous.

(A version of this article was originally published by Kathimerini and reproduced by permission.)

Ahval

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