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17 September, 2019
 
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Seizing opportunities

Alexis Papachelas

Alexis Papachelas

Greece needs to play its cards right if it wants to profit from the opportunities arising on the international stage, but also to keep in mind that all of the big players are unpredictable and the game at hand incredibly complex.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appears to have finally understood that he needs to start closing some of his many open fronts. He is trying to restore relations with the European Union, mainly relying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who supported Ankara through the tough times and appears to be the only steady hand in this age of Twitter diplomacy. If Ankara remains committed to its European overture, this means new opportunities for Greece, beyond the return of the two soldiers last week.

In the meantime, of course, relations between Turkey and the United States are at a definite nadir, though opinions are divided over how deep the rift runs. US President Donald Trump has been extremely tough on Erdogan. America’s “deep state,” meanwhile, has been in doubt for some time now over how far Washington can rely on Ankara as an ally and has been putting together an alternate plan.

The Turkish president is looking for new allies, but no one can say how Ankara’s relationship with Washington will turn out. After all, neither Trump nor Erdogan are what we would call stable and predictable leaders. In that respect, this is no time for hasty decisions and assumptions.

Nevertheless, Athens can take advantage of the situation by seeking significant exchanges from the West, while also closing the front it has opened with Moscow, as Ankara’s new relationship with Brussels has to take Greek interests into account.

As regards Washington, Athens needs to set ambitious goals, as Greek interests have significant support in the United States also because of the country’s relationship with Israel.

For example, the presence of American warships in areas of the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean that are of vital importance to Greece would be incredibly significant, as would their berthing at one of the country’s border islands. This is something that had been prevented by the principal of equal distance and avoided as a goal in the past, but does not seem too unlikely anymore.

Either way, it is time for Greece to see tangible strategic benefits, beyond positive efforts to attract American investments.

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Diplomacy  |  Defense  |  opinion  |  Greece  |  Knews

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