- Rory O'Keeffe
Greece should 'be bridge for Turkey' - Kathimerini
Greek daily Kathimerini has this morning run an examination of the difficulties surrounding the planned visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Greece (which is now expected to happen next month), in which the publication calls on Greece to act as a ‘bridge’ for Turkey; not ‘appeasing’ it (it says) but enabling it not to be or feel cut-off, and certainly not behaving as a ‘launch-pad’ for attacks on Turkey.
It is a reasonable and sensible piece, but one thing it touches upon deserves to be drawn out far more here – the vast majority of Erdogan’s very public arguments, against states and organisations which now include (in the past five years alone) Syria; Israel; Russia; Iran; Saudi Arabia; Egypt; Greece; Germany; the US; the Netherlands; Norway; NATO; the EU; Belgium (we should note that Erdogan has not been wrong in every single one of these disagreements, though he has been in many, and in all of the most recent ones) are in fact for the ‘benefit’ of Turkish citizens within Turkey and outside of it.
That is, as we have noted here on a number of occasions, the Turkish government, and most particularly its President, have in the main (as above, not every stance Erdogan has taken has been incorrect) been attempting to show three things to Turkish people, wherever they are:
That the world is ‘against’ Turkey and Turkish people, and that only the strength of Erdogan ‘defends’ Turkey and its people from such attacks (the irony – not lost on Erdogan – is that in most cases these ‘attacks’ are in fact objections to Erdogan’s unreasonable, undemocratic and in some cases downright tyrannical behaviour).
That Turkish people should not think to ‘stand against’ Erdogan and his AKP party, because to do so is to stand against Turkey, and Turkish people, and with those who wish to harm them.
That Turkish people cannot stand against Erdogan and his government, because even states believed to be far more powerful than Turkey cannot do so.
That Erdogan’s failures (most notably, his failure to gain Turkey membership of the EU, which has been his major – and repeatedly stated – international aim since before he took power, and his failure to gain Turkey greater regard as an international powerhouse) are in fact the fault of others, who are therefore enemies of Turkey – the classic ‘bunker mentality’ position most often (though not exclusively) played by dictators whose policies backfire, and who cannot be seen to fail because their personal; ‘prestige’ relies not on their ability to govern, but on their strength, their ‘correctness’ and their ability to lead and rule.
None of this in itself makes Erdogan a bad man (though arguably some other things do) and certainly does not make Turkish people, who are bombarded with this by their government every day, bad people, (Kathimerini notes this well, saying: ‘What is at issue is de-escalating provocations and putting a stop to the provocative behaviour of certain circles in Ankara who are destabilizing Greece as well as Turkey’).
But we need to remember that Turkey’s ‘outward’ attitude is in fact at least as much, and probably more, aimed at Turkish citizens than at the world around it