With the opening of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly, world attention turned to New York. But what made the headlines during the past two days was the September 21 Kremlin address by President Putin announcing the partial mobilization of the Russian Federation and emphasizing that “only military reservists, primarily those who served in the armed forces and have specific military occupational specialties and corresponding experience, will be called up.” Moreover, Mr. Putin declared, “I would like to remind those who make such statements regarding Russia that our country has different types of weapons as well, and some of them are more modern than the weapons NATO countries have. In the event of a threat to the territorial integrity of our country and to defend Russia and our people, we will certainly make use of all weapon systems available to us. This is not a bluff.”[i]
In December 2009, the communique issued at the end of the Damascus meeting of the “Turkish-Syrian High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council” referred to a “strategic partnership”, at the time a fashionable label for Türkiye’s relationships with other nations. It mentioned common threats and challenges confronting the two countries. A year later, Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu, in remarks to the press with his Syrian counterpart in Latakia, underlined that the exemplary relations between Syria and Türkiye were serving as a model for regional partnerships and that the two countries were aiming at total economic integration with neighbors.
For decades, since the days of Atatürk and Venizelos, Greek-Turkish relations have been characterized by a roller coaster pattern. Between the years 1997 and 2001, I was the Turkish ambassador in Athens. For a Turkish diplomat serving in Greece has always been a privilege. As I said in an interview before my departure, I not only enjoyed my stay there but I also happened to be the lucky one. Because, after a brief storm, my years there turned out to be a long sunny season.
Clouds have always fascinated people. White clouds turning dark remind people of the coming rain or storm, sometimes inspiring hope, at other times fear. Cloud colors at sunrise or sunset captivate them. Regardless of one’s vantage point, be it on the ground or high up from a plane window, clouds are nature’s constantly changing work of art, untouchable by man. Without clouds, the sky is an empty canvas.
The Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said, “You cannot step into the same river twice, for other waters are continually flowing on.” He was referring to a constantly changing world. Perhaps, this is even more true for clouds because as we bitterly see now, water can stop flowing in rivers, but clouds never stop moving and they decide whether rivers would resume flowing, if at all.