Greece and Turkey Playing Nice?
BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
So, a Turk walks into a bar…
Oh wait, I’m not telling a joke. Rather, I’m writing an article. But that’s difficult to remember when the Turk in question is Erdoğan and the “bar” is Greece.
A friend recently sent me a BBC news item reporting on an historic visit by a Turkish president to Greece, the first in 65 years. You won’t be surprised to learn that Erdoğan played the boorish guest almost as soon as he arrived. Fortunately, he was put in his place. Too bad he wasn’t shown the door right back out of the “bar”!
On the first day of his visit, Erdoğan was whining about insufficient “support … in terms of investments” for and “discrimination” against Turks in Greece. He also asserted that some points of the Treaty of Lausanne lacked clarity.
The temerity and unmitigated shameless brazenness of this latter day wanna-be Sultan is more breathtaking then a kick in the gut. Supposedly, Athens appointed a mufti (leader, Islamic expert) for the Turks living in the country rather than allowing them to choose their own. I don’t know what the rules are regarding the filling of this position, but for the purposes of this discussion, they are not relevant.
Aside from the fact that this probably only means the guy Erdoğan wanted didn’t get the job, the hypocrisy manifested is astounding. Does Erdoğan have multiple personalities? Is one of those unaware that the other is jerking around Turkey’s Armenian community around, preventing the election of a new Patriarch of Bolis? And, in this case, there are well established rules dating back to the adoption of the constitution governing such procedures back in 1863.
The discrimination complaint is equally hypocritical. I suppose there’s yet another Erdoğan personality in charge of jailing and murdering Kurds, one more for mistreating Alevis, a fifth for discriminating against Jews…
The funniest Erdoğan “plaint” is the one about the lack of clarity in the Treaty of Lausanne. He wants to rejigger it to make it even more favorable to Turkey, I suppose. Perhaps we, along with other signatories, should propose a deal, the mother of all deals (to make President Trump happy). We’ll agree to reopen the Lausanne Treaty if Turkey first accepts and re-signs the Treaty of Sèvres (I would bet the Greeks would jump at the opportunity to sign, which they refused to do at the time, since they would do much better territorially). Then, it would only make sense to rework Lausanne. How about it, Mr. Erdoğan? Let’s trade treaties.
Luckily, Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, who is also one of Greece’s foremost law experts, shut down his visiting counterpart’s absurd proposal, saying: “This treaty, to us, is not negotiable, this treaty does not have any gaps, does not need a review nor an update. This treaty is valid as it is.”
Clearly, despite the view of analysts that Erdoğan and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras share a warm relationship, there is no spillover of “warmth” into the overall relationship between the two countries. Nor, rightly, should there be, for so long as Turkey continues to violate Greek air and sea space, oppress the few thousand Greeks remaining in Turkey, continuing its occupation of Cyprus, and generally being a bad neighbor and destabilizing force in the region.
Perhaps we Armenians must take it upon ourselves to remind Greece that making nice with Turkey under these circumstances will only lead to more losses. Should we start a campaign to write letters to Greek ambassadors worldwide? Maybe by taking them to a bar…