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.
On December 7, 2021, Presidents Biden and Putin had a two-hour video conference.
According to the White House readout of the meeting, “President Biden focused on what he described as “threatening” movements of Russian troops near the Ukrainian border and outlined the sanctions the United States and its allies would be ready to impose should the situation escalate any further.”
Kremlin readout of the virtual summit said, “In response, Vladimir Putin warned against shifting the responsibility on Russia since it was NATO that was undertaking dangerous attempts to gain a foothold on Ukrainian territory and building up its military capabilities along the Russian border. It is for this reason that Russia is eager to obtain reliable, legally binding guarantees ruling out the eventuality of NATO’s eastward expansion and the deployment of offensive weapons systems in the countries neighboring Russia.” (Emphasis added)
Most of world’s conflicts, some armed others luckily not, are among neighbors. They are about territory, borders, economic and political interests, power, threat perceptions. Some have an ideological dimension. If neighbors in conflict are located in unstable strategic regions, involvement of other neighbors is likely; involvement of major powers is a certainty. Over time some turn into frozen conflicts. All conflicts, particularly armed ones come at a price. They result in loss of life, displacement of peoples, undermine economic and political development. Their impact transcends borders.
Last week, fires destroyed Greece’s largest migrant camp on the island of Lesbos, leaving more than 12,000 people without shelter. It was a tragedy, a stark reminder of West’s misguided interventions in Libya and Syria, and Europe’s second major problem after Covid-19, the refugee issue.
The following is from “OECD Economic Surveys, Greece” of July 2020:
“Greece has responded swiftly to the pandemic and has effectively limited infections, but the economy has been hit hard… Before the pandemic hit, the Greek economy had been expanding for over three years at just below 2% average annual growth…
“The COVID-19 shock risks exacerbating Greece’s long-standing labor market challenges. The employment rate has increased over the past six years but is still one of the lowest among OECD countries. Women and the young continue suffering from low employment rates. The lack of prospects has pushed many talented young people to emigrate, lowering the country’s entrepreneurial and innovation potential. Poverty and material deprivation, while improving, are high, especially among the young and families.”[i]Okumaya devam et →