Turkey-EU relations: What is the Matter?

 

Throughout the years, Turkey’s relations with the European Union has had
fluctuations, and it has been the nature of all human-involved relationships. However, in the
last 24 years, it might be right to say that it is only getting worse. Özdem Sanberk (R.
Ambassador), in his online article, classified problems as tensions with Greece, the European
Union’s unnecessary attitude towards Turkey, and lack of empathy as well as a compromise
not coming from both sides. Even it is possible to widen the causes of decremental
characteristics of the relation between Turkey and the EU, this essay aims to stay in the
predetermined frame provided by former Ambassador Sanberk.
Turkey’s application to the Union is dating back to 40 years. Even though, the
membership application had been reflected as a progressive one, considering the long time
and rare improvements: This process is not an advancing one. On the one hand, Customs
Union is an achievement for both sides, belongs to the 24 years ago, and on the other,
promised membership status had never been acquired by Turkey.
Greek Cypriots’ application, many years after Turkey’s, was admitted despite “they
rejected the UN and EU peace proposals in a referendum” (Sanberk, 2020). Moreover, there
was not a made-agreement on the divided island accordingly. Since then, Greece has acquired
the full-member status and use its ‘veto right’ against Turkey continuously.
Whilst Greece membership creating one of the causes of tension between Turkey and
Greece, the second one is perceived as arbitrary map designs coming from Greece on the
issues such as seabed issue and exclusion of Turkey in energy agreements according to
Sanberk (2020). According to Greece-made maps, Turkey’s seabed rights are narrowed as if
it is a ‘narrow strip’ along the southern coasts, which is an unsubstantial design on the
Turkish side.
In addition to the former issue, exclusion of Turkey from energy trades taking part in
the eastern Mediterranean is no better for Turkey. This thought blockade towards Turkey is
quite hostile and not logical. Sanberk (2020) argues that gas line passing through Turkey “
would be the cheapest and most effective route” whereas the planned alternatives such as
‘EastMed’ -for gas- and ‘EuroAsia Interconnector’ -for electricity- would extract Turkey
from the route could be the “by far longest coastline” (Sanberk, 2020).
The bigger picture and the main issue here is the contribution of the European Union
on each topic. Neutral years of EU on the political developments between Turkey and Greece
were stated as the 1950s and ’60s. After Greece’s full membership on January 1st,1981
transformed the EU’s attitude towards Turkey negative and being against Turkey namely
every situation took place. Acting with the assumption of “community solidarity” and
presumed supremacy – as Merkel did in her latest statement about eastern Mediterranean-,
European Union provoked “consequences could be with us for centuries” (Sanberk, 2020).
As for the unimaginable seabed rights and blockade over energy issues, the EU again stood

up for Greece by denigrating Turkey’s noncompliance with given issues. This fairly “single-
sided exclusionary policy of EU” received Turkey’s angry reaction naturally.

What can be done is extracting tensions between Greece and Turkey by negotiating
in a peaceful and compromising attitude for both sides, and the Union should reward a
conciliatory manner while punishing otherwise (Sanberk, 2020). Trade negotiations and visa
conditions must be enhanced and practiced. Turkey’s criticized recent policies should be
rethought with an “act of empathy” and responded accordingly. Turkey also should not burn
the bridges between her and the EU, and continue to improve herself in every branch both
domestically and internationally, to become one of the developed countries.

 

This article is written by Ayça Süngü

Visits: 575

FPI PRESIDENT PROF. DR. HÜSEYİN BAĞCI IS LIVE ON HABERTURK TV

haberturk

Visits: 330

Note of the Month February 2019

Turkey – Russia: Developing Relations

For the last two decades Turkish-Russian relations were getting better every year. Of course there were major setbacks during that period. Hitting a Russian war plane in 2015 by Turkish air forces and assassination of  Russian Ambassador Andrey Karlov by a Turkish police officer were among those setbacks. Later, Turkey related those events by FETÖ (Fetullah Terrorist Organization) and tried its best to normalize the relations. With the developments taking place in Syria and similar views of Putin and Erdoğan relating to the world events, now it seems that Turkey and Russia are becoming close allies. Russia recently removed the strict ban on visas and allowed non- visa entrance for Turkish businessmen and truck drivers. The summit which is held at the midst of Febraury 2019 between Turkey, Russia and Iran also show signs of developing relations between those countries. According to the results of that summit Russia and Turkey have similar thoughts about the developments in Syria and a safe zone in Syria borders can be established. One can expect that, in this direction by the help of Russian government, Turkey-Syria relations can also develop in a positive way. Russia-Turkey trade volume is increasing continuously and it was around 25 billion USD in 2018.

 

Turkey –Greece Relations: Improving?

Tsipras has visited Turkey in February and welcomed by Turkish authorities and by President Erdoğan. Tsipras has also visited Halki Greek Orthodox Seminary being the first Prime Minister of Greece doing that. The Seminary is closed for 48 years and opening it is in the agenda of both nations and it has a major symbolic value for Greeks. The reason for that warm visit and welcome had two sides. Turkey is going to local elections and it is always important for President  Erdoğan to win the elections as an erosion of his votes may mean a lot to the opposition. Politically Turkey should be seen strong and good with its neighbors to gather the votes of masses. But, may be this visit is more significant for Tsipras as he recently signed an agreement with Macedonia after long debates and called traitor by some of the Greeks for signing such an agreement. Normalizing relations with Turkey and having the Seminary opened will bring a success to him in domestic politics.

Visits: 534

Turkish Stand on the Gulf Crisis, Middle East and Europe – TURGUT ÖZAL

Turkish Stand on the Gulf

Crisis, Middle East and

Europe (*)

TURGUT ÖZAL

Neither the European Community nor the Western European Union may reach their netural and logical boundaries without Turkish presence.

 

It is a great pleasure and honor for me to be with you  today in Paris. I wish to express my sincere thanks to President Robert Pontillon for inviting me to address one of Europe’s three most important international parliamentary plat­forms.

In his letter of invitation, President Pontillon indi­cated that, he and his colleagues were particularly impressed by the firmness of the Turkish stand throughout the Gulf Crisis and the War. He invited me to express my views on two sub­jects; first, on how to tackle the problem of establishing a just and durable peace in the Middle East and second how I see the new configuration of Europe in a profoundly modified inter­national environment.

The Middle East has always been a region of con­flict. The Arab-Israeli problem which has come to surface in the balances among the parties has tipped to one side or the other during the period in between. This conflict has given rise to other negative developments and tensions in the region as well as in the world. Terrorism is the foremost among them.

Differences among the Arabs have added to the gravity of the situation in the region. These differences made it very difficult, if not possible to achieve the Arab unity desired by many.

On the eve of the Gulf Crisis there were several Arab groupings.

The small but rich Arab countries of the Gulf had established the Gulf Cooperation Council. On the other hand Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Yemen came together in the Arab Cooperation Council.The third group consisted of the Maghreb countries. I also have to mention other Arab countries like Sudan and Somalia which had varying relations with each Arab group. Among these countries there are also those with large populations, high population growth rates and low incomes. I don’t think I need to name them.

The Iran-Iraq War brought new dimensions to this state of affairs. This war had both positive and negative effects on inter-Arab relations. All Arabs did not act in unison during this war. For example we all know that Syria was not among the Arab states supporting Iraq. There were also some North African countries like Libya which chose to stay neutral.

This war had as consequence low oil prices. It also led to the allocation of a substantial part of the oil income to war expenditures of Iraq through the financial assistance of the Gulf countries to that country. I should also mention here that Iraq perceived this assistance as its own right.

The East-West rivalry in the region aggravated the differences among the Arab states and fuelled the arms race in the Middle East.

Inter-Arab differences together with the Arab-Israeli conflict and the East-West competition as well as the presence of extremist factions and the adversity between different sects led to a much more complicated picture of the region on the eve of the Gulf Crisis. Lebanon has been a model of such a picture since 1975. One could witness all the factors I have just mentioned in that country. The events in Lebanon could be the ominous forebearers of such a picture with much greater dimensions in the future.

 

It would be an understatement just to say that these are difficult problems to solve. In fact some of them have been aggravated by the Gulf War and even new ones have been created.However we beleive that in the aftermath of the Gulf crisis we have a historic opportunity to cover substatial grounds towards the solution of some of these problems and especially the Arab-Israeli conflict.

In this context I must mention the great prestige gained by the United States after the Gulf Crisis and the rap­prochement between the United States and Soviet Union with the end of the Cold War.On the other hand, at present, resis­tance from extremists and terrorists to efforts to solve the Mid­dle East conflict are not as strong as it used to be in the past.

One main problem area in this picture is the in­fluence that extremist religious elements have on the Israeli government. The fact that Secretary Baker finds a new settle­ment in the occupied territories at each visit he makes to Israel is a manifestation of that influence on the Israeli Government.

I believe that the presence of this influence of extremist religious elements on the Israeli Government is one of the most important barriers for Israel to live peacefully in the region.

Our policy regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict has always been clear, consistent and balanced. We recognise the legitimate rights of the Palestinians, including the right to es­tablish their own state. We also recognise the right of all states in the region, including Israel, to live within secure and recog­nised borders.

At this highly critical juncture of peace making in the Middle-East, maintaining the present momentum is of crucial importance. If such a settlement can not be reached within a reasonable time scale, the frustrations of the people of the region and especially of the Palestinians will increase the anti-western sentiments among the people of region. It may also create further complications for the moderate and conservative Arabs and add to the already substantial inter-Arab differences.

Israel is also in a position to make the most of the prestige it has gained during the Gulf Crisis. Saddam Hussein’s attacks against Israel by scud missiles; and the restraint shown by the Israeli Government against these attacks have strengthened the standing and the negotiating posotion of Is­rael. Israel should now determine how far it can go during the negotiations and should contribute to the solution of the prob­lem within those parameters. Otherwise it may confront greater problems in the future.

The Middle-East already has an enormous stockpile of military equipment. For a lasting peace in the region, we must move swiftly to devise arrangements to curb excessive arms sales to the Middle-East. Weapons of mass destruction need to be swept away from the region. The CFE arrangements might to some extent constitute an example for the area. Of course the entirely different conditions of the region need to be taken into consideration. Success in this area also depends on success towards a settlement of the region. Success in this area also depends on suc­cess towards a settlement of the Arap-lsraeli conflict.

I personally believe that the most important factor for the achievement of peace in the region is to develop a system that would increase economic interdependence and meaningful cooperation among countries of the Middle East.

The countries of the region can collectively open up their markets to one another and increase trade exchanges and tourism. They can together build and improve the in­frastructure in the Middle East. Part of the region’s oil revenues could be pooled in an economic cooperation fund to finance such projects.

Cooperation along these lines would create an at­mosphere of deeper understanding and enhanced good will. It

would also serve the well being of all the nations in the region.lt would help narrow the income gap between the richer and less wealthy. This would contribute to a relaxation of social tensions underlying political unrest.

I believe that the most important requirement of the Middle East for the years to come is water. The need of the countries of the region is now even more greater because of the pollution in the Gulf. In this respect I should remind you of my proposal of a multi-lateral venture for the purpose of build­ing a “peace-water pipeline” to deliver water from Turkish rivers, down to the Arabian peninsula. This pipeline would benefit all countries involved, in this context may I draw your attention to an initiative I have undertaken to convene an International Water Summit in Istanbul from 3 to 9 November 1991, to dis­cuss related problems.

The winds of democracy may be reaching the Mid­dle-East soon. We really see some signs to this effect.

Turkey is a drawbridge of Europe’s fortress of con­temporary civilisation and its gateway to the Middle East. As such we consider that democratisation ought to go hand in hand with efforts aimed at increasing economic interdepen­dence in the area. This is the only way to guarantee that the region keeps pace with the exigencies of a new global order based on peace, justice and progress. The achievement of democratisation in the Middle East should be regarded not only as a desirable goal for the region itself, but also as a component of Europe’s well being and peace of mind.

We cannot expect to have a democracy in the region with western standards at the initial phase, although each country may reach different stages in time.

Turkey, with its secular democracy and free market economy can constitute an example to the countries of the region in this respect.

 

Turkey together with Iran and Pakistan is on the way to giving a new life to the trilateral “Economic Cooperation Organisation”. The three countries have agreed to accord trade preferences to each other, to establish a joint investment bank and to cooperate on infrastructure projects. A summit is being planned for autumn of this year to seal these decisions. We are hoping that these developments might have some influence to encourage similar cooperation in the region.

We believe that the situation in Iraq is more serious than may be appreciated from the outside. Iraq has suffered a great and a humiliating defeat. The war has caused great damage on the country. The wound is yet fresh and warm and the pain is not so obvious. But as time passes the situation in Iraq might become worse. I believe there has also been great loss of life in Iraq during the war. As the prisoners of war return to their families and homes, the gravity of the situation will weigh on the people of Iraq. The civil war in that country has also created additional damage and loss of life. It has in­creased tensions between the regime and the people of Southern and Northern Iraq. It would not be correct to think that peace has finally come for the people of Iraq. A sparkle might lead to other tragedies in that country.

I believe that a quick political solution is required to bring an end to the sufferings in Iraq. Embargo by itself is not enough to provide this solution. It is up to the international community to come to grips with this problem. Otherwise the present problems might achieve new dimensions.

Now I want to outline my views on the develop­ments in Europe.I believe the most important development in Europe have been the ending of the Cold War and the enormous chan­ges in the Soviet Union, the collapse of communism in Europe, the unification of Germany and coming into power of democratic governments in the countries of East Europe.

 

On the other hand, the decision by the European Community to achieve a single market by end of 1992 is a very significant development for Europe. The attraction of the European Community for the non-member countries increase every passing day as the community draws closer to this ob­jective. There may be differences in the pace towards an inter­nal market in various sectors, but it is a fact that this objective will be achieved in the end and will be a significant building block in the new European architecture.

I would now like to go a little further into some of the developments I have just mentioned.

The lifting of the heavy hand of the Soviet Union over the countries of Central and Eastern Europe led to the revival of democratic currents in those countries, and to the collapse of old economic systems. As a result it brought them face to face with colossal new problems. There was a mistaken belief in those countries that with democracy, prosperity would be within easy reach. However the most important characteristic of a free market system is that it requires hard work for individuals as well as for nations to achieve prosperity.

The lifting of the Soviet pressure also affected the ethnic problems in the Balkans. These problems which were not much visible because of Soviet pressure came to surface. This has led to tensions between the countries of the Balkans and between different ethnic groups in almost every Balkan state. This sitiation might lead to new and greater complication if not handled with due care. Turkey is in a situation to play a positive role also in this respect. It has a great deal of ex­perience in the Balkans going back to the Ottoman period. It is a country of the region enjoying excellent relations with Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, Yugoslavia and Hungary. It has problems only with Greece. I am not going to take up the reasons here. I should however mention that their solution will be much easier if the European Community does not become a party to these problems.

The Soviet Union itself, in some respects resemble the Balkans. Outside the Russians which constitute the core of the Union, there are Christian and Moslem-Turkic republics and scores of minorities in those republics. It is noteworthy that those which refuse to join the Union Treaty are only the Chris­tian Republics. This situation might give rise to difficulties to achieve a further rapprochement between Europe and the Soviet Union in future.

I believe that the process towards democratisation in the Soviet Union is irreversible. Therefore, the West should help the Soviet Union in this period of transition.

However, the real effort and sacrifice must come from the people of Soviet Union themselves. Turkish ex­perience in passing to a free market economy has verified this. We had to pool almost ninety percent of our resources to achieve this objective. The European Community did not pro­vide even the insignificant sum of 600 million Ecus foreseen by the fourth financial protocol. I believe, at this stage, the Soviet Union will mostly need support without political strings at­tached, and assistance for the education and training of people required to run a free market economy.

During the last few years substantial steps have been taken for the security of Europe. NATO has played a very important role in the ending of the Cold War. It is a well estab­lished and an efficient organisation. It is important to maintain this organisation and to make the necessary changes within the organisation in parallel with the developments in Europe and the world.

The challenges facing us in Western Europe are no less serious than those which confronted us forty-five years ago. To avoid the risks of failure, common sense urges us to envisage an interlocking network of relationships based on NATO, the CSCE, the European Community and other European institutions.

 

As far as NATO’s role in the future security architec­ture of the continent is concerned, Turkey supports the evolu­tion of a stronger European dimension. Such a development ought to reinforce the Atlantic Alliance and bring about a more equal distribution of leadership and responsibilities within it. In our opinion, if the EC nations decide to form an exclusive club, the new European architecture cannot benefit from the new prospects and meet new challenges. It would leave some European allies like Turkey and Norway, who are yet to join the Community, marginalized on the flanks. Hence, a European defence identity should be conceived as the “European Security Pillar” of NATO and in the manner endorsed at the London Summit in July last year.

The Atlantic Alliance, the CSCE and the European Community are three specific secular pillars of the continent, each will make its own contribution to the new European ar­chitecture. An important aspect of European cooperation will be in the framework of the European Community. Military\Security integration and Atlantic security cooperation should remain the job of NATO. In this context cooperation with and support of the United Statets is imperative for an Atlantic balance. We should refrain from attempts to reduce the United States’ presense in Europe. Western European Union ought to develop to become the European pillar of the Transatlantic system by embracing all the fourteen European members of the alliance.

Lastly I wish to make a few points that should cor­rect lingering misperceptions in the minds of some Europeans about Turkey’s role in the new configuration of the continent.This role can be properly assessed by taking due account of historic, geopolitical and economic factors.

Eastern Thrace and particularly Anatolia are exten­sions of the European continent. As such, the course of their history has always been inseparable from that of Europe. These were Alexander’s springboard towards world dominion. Rome stretched her power to the borders of Persia and to Mesopotamia across the Bosphorus and the Taurus Moun­tains. Taurus, Iconium and Ephesus served as stepping stones for the spread of the message of Christ into Greece and Rome. Islam followed the same path in reaching the peoples of the Balkans. For five centuries, Istanbul provided the home base from which the Ottomans, as successors of Byzantium, control­led Europe as far as Budapest.

Imperial Turkey was formally admitted to the “Con­cert European” in 1856. The entire history of the Ottoman reform movement consists of an unbroken chain of attempts to reorganize the state and the society on the European pattern.

Yet Turkey’s European vocation found a modern, concrete and absolute expression with Kemal Ataturk’s revolu­tionary achievements. The record of the Turkish Republic in all walks of life -from public and civil law, politics, economics, cul­tural and social orientation to military and defence matters- bears out the nation’s European credentials. In fact, the suc­cess of Turkey’s emergence as a modern and secular state bears witness to Turkey’s historic course oriented to Europe. The Turkish bid to join the Community and the Western European Union should be seen as the culmination of a process which lasted for centuries.

Throughout the last decade, Turkey registered a great success with regard to economic restructuring. A sound economy, capable of being integrated to the world economies, has thus emerged. The transformation was brought about in a democratic environment.

Turkey had no access to huge grants and extensive subsidies. We, nevertheless, managed to create a healthier economy that could produce consecutive current account surpluses until the Gulf Crisis. I should also mention here that the free market economy we now enjoy helped us overcome the adverse affects of the crisis with a minimum loss. We ser­viced our foreign debt repayments on schedule. Today, Turkey is in a position to extend credit lines to many countries. She has been able to achieve a sustained annual growth rate of not less than 6 % over the last decade. The Turkish Lira has be­come fully convertible and foreign exchange reserves have reached an all-time high level. Exports have more than quad­rupled. There are no restrictions pertaining to the foreign exchance regime and an effective stock-market is steadily expanding. Privatization is going on at full speed.

Turkish experience towards achieving a free market economy is being followed with great attention by the countries of the region. Indeed, Turkey, with most developed free market economy and a trained, experienced bureaucracy, has a lot to share with the countries of that part of the world. It could share its experiences in the liberalisation of trade and encourage free movement of people, capital and services.

This is also true for the Black Sea region and the Balkans. I have put forth the idea of a “Black Sea Economic Cooperation Zone”. This Zone would include, besides Turkey, the Soviet Union, Romania and Bulgaria. Six Soviet republics would also participate, these are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldavia, Russia and the Ukraine. We believe, proposed joint measures to liberalize trade in the Area and to cooperate in establishing the infrastructure necessary for facilitating trade among the participants. We are not aiming at a Black Sea Common Market. We only want to create a medium through which goods, capital, people and services can move more free­ly. During my visit to the Soviet Union, I saw that president Gor­bachev and the leaders of the republics were favorable to this idea.

The dramatic developments in the Gulf must always remind us of the breadth of the problems besetting the Muslim world and the dangers of the revival of an age-old conflict between Muslims and Christians. Power hungary people exploit even the smallest differences among nations and fractions to achieve their objectives. In the past, economic frustrations forced many people to seek ways of liberation. They resorted to communism and revolutionary methods. We now know that, those methods are not the cure.

The changes in Eastern Europe and Soviet Union have resulted in the revival of religion in these regions.

People believing in God build stronger societies. History confirms this. The important thing is that religion should not border on extremism. To prevent this, societies and in­dividuals need to be more tolerant towards each other. One should not forget that religions which believe in one God are based on same principles.

If we are to avoid the dark ages when religions were at war with each other, we must be very careful. In a world which is so much smaller today we cannot ignore the economic difficulties of others. We need better programmes of cooperation and assistance to other developing countries.

Today the Muslim population in the world is more than a billion. In the Soviet Union alone the Muslim population is nearing 80 million. The birth rate is high. No one can say from now the effect of a number of political problems that will be created if these people are to come under the influence of militant ideologies.

The Moslem populations world over, not only in the Middle East but in the Soviet Union as well, are in fact at the threshold of making historic decisions in their search for a viable alternative which would fundamentally determine their future.

The fact that Turkey is a secular Moslem country sharing western values enriches the Turkish Model with an added dimension. This dimension proves to the Middle Eastern nations, as well as to the Islamic world in general, that an Islamic country can evolve into a democratic and modern society on the western pattern. On the other hand it also con­stitutes a model to be emulated by the Eastern and Southern Soviet Republics.

Turkey applied to the European Community in 1987. The Commission rendered its opinion on Turkish membership in 1989 at a time of unprecedented mutation in Europe. These were the welcome changes which marked the end of the Cold War. The EC was seen as a pole of attraction by all Eastern European countries. However, today, we see that a lot of time is still needed for many of the East European Countries to come up to the standards of integration with the Community. Turkey is very near to those standards. It is in fact at a better position than some of the member states.

Turkey has also reached an economic standard above other Islamic countries. Turkish membership will make it possible for the EC to establish better relations with the Islamic world. There are those who believe that the EC is a Christian club. Such tendencies only contribute to polarisations in the world.

Turkey’s historic experience and knowledge of the Balkans, the Black Sea Region, West Asia as well as the Middle East and the excellent relations it enjoys with almost all the countries of these regions places Turkey at a unique position. Turkish membership in the European Community and the Western European Union would no doubt enrich these two or­ganisations and would contribute to the improvement of their political, cultural and economic ties with that part of the world.

Turkey will also serve as an engine of growth in an expanded Europe with her developing economy offering new market opportunities for Western European exporters. Enriched with Turkey’s young and dynamic workforce, Western European capital and enterprise would be in a position to tap the vast economic potential of Anatolia.

As far as the Western European Union is concerned, I would first underline one of the prioties of Turkish foreign policy, namely that of participating in all spheres of the European integration process.

We agree that efforts towards strengthening European role in the field of security and defence should be pursued with energy and vigour. Yet, it is our firm conviction that one cannot and should not create two different categories of European members within the same alliance; those who are within the EC and WEU, and trrose who are only within NATO. On the other hand Turkey should not be expected to accept only the responsibilities of the defence of the continent without parpicipating fully in the making of the new Europe.

I would like to sum up my message as follows: Turkey, as a persistent and unswerving adherent of the humanitarian values of Europe, is long overdue for political, economic, cultural recognition by her natural partners. Neither the Community nor the Western European Union may reach their natural and logical boundries without Turkish presence. She constitutes a European bridge to a far wider consensus between Europe and the Middle East. As such, she is a political asset for Western Europ.

All European nations have contributed to a rich and diverse European identity. Turkey, with all the civilizations that have enriched Anatolia and its people is one of the Mediter­ranean heirs to that very identity in equal share to her future EC and WEU partners. We claim that heritage.Turkey and Western European Union have common goals and common responsibilities to discharge. Therefore, no special consultative arrangement can be regarded as a per­manent substitute to Turkey’s eventual full membership in the Union.

With these thoughts in mind, I wish you every suc­cess in your future work.

(*)     President Turgut Özal’s address to the WEU Parliamentary Assembly in Paris on May 5,1991 was published in the fpi Quarterly “Foreign Policy” Vol. 16, Nos. 1-2

 


 

Visits: 263

THE CYPRUS PROBLEM – RAUF DENKTAŞ

                    THE CYPRUS PROBLEM (*)

                                             RAUF DENKTAŞ

      The search for a settlement of the Cyprus problem through inter-communal talks has been in progress since June, 1968. The success of the intercommunal talks must necessarily depend on identity of views on the diagnosis of the Cyprus problem.

 

The search for a settlement of the Cyprus problem through inter-communal talks has been in progress since June, 1968. United Nations Secretary-General, U Thant’s view of the talks in his last report (Do­cument S/10005 of December 2, 1970) is not very encouraging; the Greek Cypriot press has virtually established its position against the talks, calling for recourse to the U.N. General Assembly; the Turkish Cypriot press is equally despondent, and suggests from time to time that the guarantor powers (Turkey, Greece and Great Britain) and the two communities should tackle the problem; the countries which pay for the U.N. peace-keeping operation in Cyprus, or contribute men to the Peace Force, are showing increased impatience at the slow progress of the intercommunal talks. Yet the quest for peace continues; the two sides have not thrown in their hands, and in all Cypriot hearts, Tur­kish and Greek alike, the hope for “a just and permanent solution” beams on and off, like a search-light in the middle of a turbulent sea.

The success of the intercommunal talks must necessarily depend on identity of views on the diagnosis of the Cyprus problem. At pre­sent it is difficult to maintain that such identity has been reached.

The Independent Republic of Cyprus was not the desired aim of the Greek Cypriot leadership’s 1955-58 EOKA struggle. Because of Turkish Cypriot resistance to the desired Greek Cypriot aim of ENOSIS (union of Cyprus with Greece), and the consequent intercommunal strife which brought Turkey and Greece to the verge of war, the set­ting up of an independent republic became, for the Greek Cypriot leadership, the only way of attaining a feasible solution without abandoning the desired aim of ENOSIS. The Turkish Cypriot leadership was thus handicapped from the very beginning. All acts and declarations by the Greek Cypriot leaders during the 1960-63 period were tested in the light of the knowledge that the Greek Cypriot leadership would destroy the feasible solution of independence which was reached for the sake of their desired solution – ENOSIS. This was the background to the 1963 events. It was difficult for a political partnership to function where one of the partners continued to aim for a political end (ENO­SIS) completely alien to the spirit of the partnership.

The events which were to erupt in December, 1963, thus had a philosophy behind them, and they were neither accidental nor inevit­able. They were carefully planned, and formed the last link in a chain of calculated events designed to remove all those aspects of the agree­ments which forbade any move in the direction of ENOSIS. A Greek Cypriot document, now known as “The Akritas Plan” has since been published in the Greek press giving full details of the Greek Cypriot motivation as regards the 1963 events  (1).

 

It can thus be seen that the independence of Cyprus which was found to be the “just and permanent solution” to her problem was to be used for the same end (ENOSIS) which it purported to have prohi­bited as a sine qua non of peaceful cooperation between the two communities. The Turkish Cypriot fear that this intention still underlies all Greek Cypriot actions and proposals in the intercommunal talks conti­nues to be the greatest stumbling block. Unfortunately neither the Greek Cypriot press nor the statements made by the Greek Cypriot lead­ers help to alleviate these fears  (2).

 

  • Greek Cypriot daily Patris, April 21, 1966. See also Conspiracy to Destroy the Republic of Cyprus — Cyprus Turkish Information Office, 1969
  • Makarios: «I shall prove that I have never deviated from the national path, i.e. Enosis» Eleftheria, January 22, 1970.

But fears have to be cast off and suspicions curbed if a peaceful solution is to be found. Much depends on the attitude of the Greek Cypriot side. Passing off the Greek National Anthem as «the National Anthem of Cyprus» each time a foreign diplomat presents his credenti­als to Archbishop Makarios, playing this anthem as the closing-down tune on Cyprus television each night, having the word «ENOSIS» boldly printed in blue and white on all camps of the Greek Cypriot Army, the removal of the Turkish language from all road signs, and refusal to solve the problems of 20,000 Turkish Cypriot displaced per­sons are but a few of the overt Greek Cypriot acts which daily exas­perate the Turkish Cypriots. It is with this background that the search for peace continues.

What does the Turkish Cypriot side hope or wish to achieve in the intercommunal talks?

The answer to this question is simple. Turkish Cypriots want to retain the community’s political and juridical status as laid down in the 1960 agreements – a status of partnership with vested and undeniable rights in the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Cyprus. “The independence and sovereignty of Cyprus was won by our exertions and because of our resistance to Greek demands to colonize the island by uniting it with Greece. But for our resistance to ENOSIS during the 1955-58 period there would have been no Independent Republic of Cyprus”, say the Turkish Cypriots. It is because of this deeply embedded belief that the Turkish Cypriot side is averse to any move to treat the Turkish Community as a minority on the island- a move which forms the axis of all Greek Cypriot offers, and is hammered in daily by the Greek Cypriot press.

From the Greek Cypriot point of view, the problem can be resolv­ed “once the majority rule principle” is accepted. To them majority rule also includes “the right of the Greek Cypriots to decide the fate of Cyprus”, in other words, to decide on the union of Cyprus with Greece.! According to them, the fault of the 1960 agreements lies in the fact that ENOSIS is ruled out., and the independence and sovereignty of Cyprus are fully guaranteed.

The Turkish Cypriots’ partnership status and the community’s  recognized rights and    interests  in  the  independence,    sovereignty and territorial  integrity of the island give juridical   backing to these guarantees. That is why the Greek Cypriot side feels inclined to continue the present situation rather than endorse the rights of the Turkish community which, they know, will continue to bar the way to ENOSIS.

The intercommunal talks began in June, 1968, in the wake – and probably as a result – of the 1967 November crisis. Two Turkish villa­ges, Boğazköy and Geçitkale, had been attacked by combined Greek and Greek Cypriot forces as part of the pattern of overall Greek tactics to eliminate all Turkish Cypriot points of resistance one by one, Turkey’s
reaction  was quick;  a Greco-Turkish war became imminent.    At this stage Greece agreed to withdraw from Cyprus its occupation   forces – numbering some 12,000 men  – together with General Grivas,    their commanding officer    who was then at loggerheads    with Archbishop Makarios. The Greek Cypriot administration, on the other hand, promised full compensation to the Turkish villagers – a promise which  has only partly been fulfilled to this day!

In other words, the armed struggle of December, 1963 – Novem­ber, 1967 yielded no results. The 1960 Agreements, which the Greek Cypriot side thought would be thrown into the wastepaper basket, were still recognized as valid agreements throughout the world. Turkish Cypriot resistance was still continuing; no military victory had been achieved, and the de facto Greek Army presence in Cyprus had now been withdrawn. It was obvious, therefore, that to solve the Cyprus problem by armed force was an impossibility as long as the Turkish Cypriots resisted ENOSIS and Turkey backed them up in this resistance.

At the initial stages of the talks, it was necessary to eliminate subjects whose discussion would lead the negotiations nowhere. ENO­SIS, partition, and any solution based on geographical separation were included in this category. What remained to be discussed was inde­pendence and the means of cooperation between the two ethnic com­munities in running a joint enterprise. As there was neither victor nor vanquished, mutual concessions appeared to be the key to success.

Now, almost three years after the beginning of the talks, both sides claim to have come to the limit of the concessions which they can reasonably make. These talks were said to be of an unofficial and exploratory nature, and secrecy was considered essential for their suc­cess. Consequently, in discussing the difficulties encountered in the intercommunal talks one has to be careful not to cross the boundaries of discretion, or to divulge anything which has not so far been disclosed by both sides.

From 1960 onwards, the Greek Cypriot propaganda machine told the world that “amendment of the Constitution was essential for the better functioning of the state machinery”. Their ostensible reason for the 1963 troubles was projected as “crisis due to constitutional abnormalities”. In fact, of course, their main objective was to remove all those parts of the Constitution prohibiting any move towards ENOSIS by giving specific rights to the Turkish Cypriots. At the intercommunal talks, the Turkish Cypriot side showed willingness to accommo­date the Greek Cypriot demands for certain amendments, provided a) that they did not erode the Communal Status of the Turkish Cypriots, and b) that ENOSIS continued to be effectively barred. Another impor­tant question for the Turkish Cypriots was that of security of life and property. The Turks wanted a guaranteed regime which would prevent the tragedy of December 1963 from being restaged by the numerically greater Greek Cypriot side. The checks and balances introduced into the 1960 Constitution in the form of vetoes, etc. proved inade­quate, and the December 1963 events were planned and staged in spite of them. Now the Turkish Cypriot side, in considering a future arrange­ment, wanted “more real” guarantees in the from of full autonomy in local affairs.

It has been agreed that:

a)The two communities shall share the responsibility of running the government in proportion to the population ratio (80 % Greek Cypriot and 20 % Turkish Cypriot);

  1. Local autonomy shall be given to the two communites.

General agreement has been reached on the functions of autono­mous local bodies, although a few questions remain in abeyance on these. The difficulty seems to be in the interpretation given to the term “local autonomy” by the two sides. To the Turkish Cypriots it implies what it says: Autonomy in its proper sense. The Greek Cypriot treatment of the subject falls far short of this understanding. Hence the difficulty in resolving the conflict.

Other difficulties stem from the Greek Cypriot side’s refusal to reendorse the “functional federation” image of the 1960 agreements, under which the Government was shared between the two communites in agreed proportions, while each community had its separate Communal Administration for “communal matters”. It is this functional federation arrangement that has enabled the Turkish Cypriots to de­fend the independence of Cyprus from December 1960 to this day. The only concession that the Greek Cypriot side is willing to make is to “allow” the Turkish Cypriot side to retain its Communal Administrative set up – the Turkish Communal Chamber – without re-establishing its Greek Cypriot counterpart. Turkish Cypriot proposals for some solu­tion to this question of retaining the “functional federation” image have been turned down, thus increasing Turkish fears that what the Greek Cypriots are hoping for is the creation of a Greek Cypriot state – which the Turkish Cypriots will be treated at best as a “privileged minority”. The Turkish Cypriots feel that acceptance of such a status would gradually move the avalanche of ENOSIS, under which they would sooner or later be crushed. For the Turkish Cypriot side, there­fore, the preservation of the 1960 image of functional federalism is a sine qua non of any future agreement. “If the Greek Cypriot aim is not to use any future agreement as a ‘springboard for ENOSIS’, they should have no difficulty in accepting our proposals on this issue”, argue the Turkish Cypriot leaders. And this, really, is the crux of the whole mat­ter. The Greek Cypriot approach to the problem is alien to the establish­ment of an independent Cypriot State. In the absence of a Cypriot nation, any attempt to base the State on one of the two communities while treating the other as a minority would, in fact, be an attempt to create a new transitional Greek State in the Mediterranean as a prelude to union with Greece, it is this Greek Cypriot tendency “to make Cyprus Greece” which caused the 1963 troubles, and continues to hamper the progress of the intercommunal talks. If Cyprus is to con­tinue as an independent country, its government and administrative set-up have to be based on the recognized and agreed rights of the two ethnic communities.

The persistent attempt in Cyprus to gloss over this reality and to confuse the issue by importing into it questions of minority-majority rights do not infuse the Turkish side with confidence. Akritas’ Plan is still on record, and actions taken in accordance with its terms are not yet past history. The Turkish Cypriot side’s attempt to underline the community’s rights and status and to provide for adequate mea­sures for protection of life and property must be viewed in the light of an existing Greek Cypriot plan to Hellenize Cyprus by hook or by crook, and to bring about ENOSIS by using any agreement which falls short of it as simply a transitional one, called “the feasible solution” which is to be used toward the desired objective of ENOSIS.

In short, the difficulties which lie ahead cannot be minimized; questions of principle on cardinal issues are still far apart, and the chances of bridging them in the near future seem rather dim. But the fact that a “search for peace” still continues, and that guns have been silent in the Island while the intercommunal talks have been in prog­ress, nourish the hope that a solution to this thorny problem will be found through peaceful means – as, indeed, it must.

 

                 (*) Published in the fpi Quarterly “Foreign Policy”, Vol 1, No. 1

Visits: 213

REMINISCENSES ON CYPRUS – NİHAT ERiM

REMINISCENSES ON CYPRUS (*)

NİHAT ERiM

A prominent Turkish Statesman, Prof. Nihat Erim, who later becamethe Prime Minister of Turkey, has been involved with various phases of the founding of the Cyprus Republic and subsequent crises. Some of his personal recollections as given to the editor of “Foreign Policy” quarterly  in a special interview will no doubt become a significant contribution to the writing of Cyprus history.

 

My first involvement with Cyprus dates back to 1956. The then Prime Minister Mr. Adnan Menderes asked me, as a professor of law, to study and elaborate an internationally acceptable legal basis for our position on Cyprus, which had  then become a national issue. I went to the Foreign Ministry and studied the file. Up to then our official claim was based on the Treaty of Lausanne : We argued that we had trensferred Cyprus to Great Britain by the Treaty of Lausanne. If Britain wanted to leave the island it should be returned to its original owner, i.e. to Turkey. I considered this legally inadequate even though it could be sustained politically on the ground that the Lausanne Treaty had established a Turkish-Greek equilibrium in the Mediterranean where Cyprus played a pivotal role. From the legal point of view, however, if the sovereignty of territory was uncon­ditionally transferred to another country, the original owner could have no control over the new sovereign regarding the fate of that land.

In studying the subject, I recalled a certain provision of the United Nations Charter, in the formulation of which I had taken part at the San Francisco Conference in 1945. This clause was discussed and prepared at the committee which I had attended : Paragraph (b)| of Article 73 stated: «… to develop self-government, to take due account of the political aspiration of the peoples”. Much discussions had taken place at the committee whether to use the word “people” in the singular or in the plural. In the end a consensus was reached that in many countries which had not yet attained self-government not only one but more than one people lived, whose aspirations had to be taken into account separately. Therefore, the plural form “peoples” was preferred.

In my report to the Government I stated : «lt is quite obvious that today in Cyprus two seperate peoples live. Admittedly Greek people on the island constitute the majority, but there is also a Turkish people with separate religion, separate language, separate past, separate future, separate hopes and aspirations that cannot coincide with those of the Greek people. While self-government demands of the Greek people were to be satisfied, the aspirations of the Turks had also to be taken into account and satisfied.”

The Government adopted this thesis and I was assigned with the task of presenting it to our delegation to the United Nations. As a result, this point was included in the Turkish presentation to the United Nations General Assembly of 1957 as an addition to our arguments based on the Lausanne Treaty, and the Assembly resolution of that year referred to a solution acceptable to “all parties concerned”, which without mentioning the term specifically, included both Turkey and the Turkish Community in the island.

Even before the United Nations discussions, upon the demand of the British government a draft constitution was prepared by Lord Radcliffe in 1956. His proposals were based on the existence of two separate communities in Cyprus which were to be co-partners within a dual government with two heads. At that time I visited Cyprus, discussed the situation with the then British Governor – General Sir John Harding and with the leaders of the Turkish Community and presented our counter­proposals to the Radcliffe draft. But due to the Greek hopes that they could obtain better terms from the United Nations, progress could not then be achieved on the Radcliffe draft. Later on in 1958, Mr. Harold Mac Millan put forward another plan which was  rejected by the Greek Government and by Archbishop Makarios. However, the Radcliffe constitutional proposals inspired the subsequent London and Zurich Agreements and the constitution we prepared in 1960 for Cyprus.

I was not involved in the preparation of the London and Zurich Agreements, but I was in the preparation of the Cyprus constitution. Prime Minister Menderes asked me to head the Turkish delegation at the mixed committee to prepare the constitution. We began our work in Cyprus and we worked for a while in Lausanne because the neutral advisor of the committee, Prof. Bridel, could not leave his chair at the University of Lausanne. The constitutional preparations lasted from the beginning of 1959 to March 1960 and during one year we spent 183 days in Cyprus. The crucial point on which it was difficult to agree was the rights of the executive organ. Achbishop Makorios was unable to reconcile himself to the notion that he had to share his Presidential powers with a Turkish Vice-President. The chief Greek Cypriot negotiator was Mr. Clerides and Makarios pushed him aside and wanted to negotiate with me directly. After a certain time he led the discussions to a rupture and I left Cyprus. Eventually Athens and Ankara agreed on the necessity that the clause in the Zurich Agreement relating to the powers of the executive be included in the constitution without change. This settlement was included in toto in the constitution which was at last accepted by Makarios. The aim of the Archbishop was to dilute the Zurich Agreement by including provisions favorable to himself, and we did not allow this to happen. I believe this point is extremely important since it explains all further actions by the Archbishop. After Cyprus became an independent state, all the faits accomplis he tried and the disputes he created have been based on his initial opposition to allowing the Turkish Vice-President to become his partner in running the state and sharing his authority. In 1963 he visited Ankara and during his discussions with Prime Minister İnönü he objected to the existence of seperate municipalities, the right of the Turks to veto the budget, etc., etc… While the constitution was being negotiated he had wanted to eliminate all these provisions. The Turkish Government responded to him that these were points on which agreement had been reached in the course of the London and Zurich negotiations and had become part of the Cyprus constitution; therefore, they could neither be diluted nor reinforced and he had to live with these provisions and share the Cypriot state with the Turks.

Nevertheless, ever since the Cyprus Republic became an independent and sovereign state he has attempted to upset the dual balance in his own favor by unilateral action. I must point out that the principal aspi­ration of Archbishop Makarios and most of the Cypriot Greeks is Enosis, that is to unite the island some day with Greece. Makarios hoped in 1963 that he could achieve this through a fait accompli by benefitting from the domestic problems of Turkey. But the attitude of Turkey and the heroic resistence of the Turks on the island prevented him. He repeated his action once again in 1967 when Mr. S. Demirel was Prime Minister of Turkey. He also stood firm and Makarios failed again. After 1967 the United Nations increased its interest in Cyprus and provided for intercommunal talks which continued on and off until 1974.

However, between the preparation of the Cyprus constitution in 1959 and Prime Minister İnönü’s visit to Washington in 1964, I was not invol­ved with developments or decision making on Cyprus. On this trip Prime Minister İnönü asked me to travel with him as a parliamentary advisor and I accepted. As is known, in the beginning of 1964 President Johnson had prevented a Turkish landing in Cyprus through a rather strange, harsh and threatening letter which had caused much resentment in Tur­key. In order to erase the effects of this letter President Johnson made an effort and invited the Turkish and Greek Prime Ministers to Washington, and stated that he wanted to settle this problem in a manner that would satisfy the Turks. He said that for this purpose, he would appoint Mr. Dean Acheson, one of his much trusted aides, and asked Prime Minister İnönü to appoint a similar Turkish personality to talk with him. Prime Minister İnönü said he wanted to designate me as his representative. Prime Minister Papandreou of Greece would arrive two days after us in Washington and would also be asked to appoint a negotiator for the Greek side. The original proposal of President Johnson was that the rep­resentatives of the three countries should be closeted at Camp David and kept there until they reached an agreement, say within two or three weeks, if necessary. İnönü accepted this proposal. Mr. Acheson was intro­duced to Mr. İnönü. The meeting took place on a yacht on the Potomac River and a declaration was prepared. As written by Mr. Acheson, the declaration reaffirmed the validity of existing agreements as a starting point for a new solution mentioning «…the binding effects of treaties”. Makarios wanted to change the constitution and we did not object to changing it, provided the binding effects and results of the treaties in force were taken as a basis. We accepted this and left Washington for New York. Mr. Papandreou arrived in Washington while we were in New York. We were told that Mr. Papandreou accepted the principle of tripar­tite discussions to take place among Turkish, Greek and American rep­resentatives; however, he wanted the discussions to take place under the United Nations umbrella. The United Nations Secretary General should appoint the mediator, who would be Mr. Tuomioja of Finland, and the discussions were not be held at Camp David but at Geneva so that they would not carry an American label. President Johnson accepted the proposal of the Greek Prime Minister.

While we were in New York we received the news that General Grivas had landed on the island and we were shocked to hear this news. We were told, however, by our American colleagues that this should not be considered a bad development since General Grivas had gone there to fight Communists and we should not worry about   his activities.

Soon afterwards we arrived in Geneva to start discussions; there we were to meet again another Greek demand. The Greek Government stated that their delegate could not attend a tripartite conference. They would negotiate individually with Mr. Dean Acheson and we should also talk with him alone. Mr. Acheson should try to reach a conclusion through these separate talks. The Turkish Government was agreeable also on this point, because what was important for us was Mr. Acheson’s propo­sals, and we accepted the Greek suggestion. Acting with remarkable good will and appreciating the political and legal justifications for the Turkish case, and Turkey’s desire not to resort to the use of force and security requirements, Mr. Acheson put forward a proposal which has bean known as the First Acheson Plan. This Plan provided a line from Akantou Pass, East of Kyrenia to the east of Famagusta — this portion of the island — and East and North of this line was to be left to Turkey. Turkey would have the right to maintain in this zone a military force of  divisional strength, thus assuring its security. Furthermore as the Turkish settle­ments were spread all over the island in such places as Paphos, Lymasol, Larnaca, Kyrenia, Omorpho, Famagusta, and Nicosia as well as many other localities, the creation of approximately eight Turkish cantons was also envisaged in the plan. I took this plan with me to Ankara. A Coun­cil of Ministers meeting was held in which I also participated. Our Go­vernment accepted it and authorized me to discuss it. The discussions lasted for some time. We had accepted the principle of a geographical separation, but we had certain qualms about placing a military force of a division within such a small area, where there would be little elbow room and no space for an air base. Yet all these points could be dis­cussed  further once this   principle was accepted by the  Greek  side.

In Geneva Mr. Acheson informed us that Mr. Papandreou had also accepted this plan, but since it was going to be carried out by Arch­bishop Makarios his view and concurrence had also to be obtained. Prime Minister Papandreou invited Archbishop Makarios to Athens. As soon as I heard of this invitation I lost all my hopes for a settlement because I could easily guess, on the basis of my experience with him during the constitutional talks, what his reactions would be. Indeed after a few hours of discussions with the Greek government in Athens the Arch­bishop left the meeting and told journalists that this plan was ac­tually a partitioning of the island even though its real name was not mentioned. He categorically refused to accept it. He denigrated Mr. Acheson as “a self-invited mediator” and claimed that a solution could only be found by the United Nations. Mr. Acheson was very upset, but there was another fait accompli.

After a few months, on August 8, 1964, the forces of Archbishop Makarios again attacked Turkish settlements in the area of Erenkoy-Mansoura, and we attacked these forces with our aircraft. The Greek forces were scared and they halted their operation. The United Nations Security Council met and asked Turkey to stop its operations. Yet Ma­karios could advance no  further.

We returned once again to neutral Geneva, and Mr. Acheson one day invited me and presented a proposal which he said was not his own but that of the State Department and of President Johnson, and he began to read from a telex message. The proposal rescinded comp­letely the original Acheson plan. There was no longer to be a separate geographical area belonging to the Turks, but merely a very small mili­tary base to be leased to Turkey just north of the British base at Dikelia. There was to be no turnover of sovereignty, and the base was to be leased by the Cypriot government. I had with me our military advisor, General T. Sunalp. As soon as we heard this we said that there was no point in elaborating further on a proposal which we would be unable to discuss, because our authority was confined to the original proposal. Mr. Acheson requested us not to reject the proposal then and there. The plan was being at that moment presented to the governments in Athens and Ankara, and they could reject it. Our discussions terminat­ed on this point and the proposal was rejected the same day by Prime Minister İnönü when it was presented to him by the United States Ambas­sador to Ankara.

During these discussions and the subsequent ones I reached the impression that there were two schools of thought which clashed in the State Deportment. One was represented by Mr. Dean Acheson, who had told me during a visit to Washington that Turkey was the only strong and stable country which the United States could depend on in this part of the world. All other considerations must remain secondary. He believed that Turkey’s legitimate demands should be satisfied, and she must be strengthened. It was with these considerations in mind that he had actively worked for Turkey’s admission to NATO yesterday and that he had prepared today his original plan for the future of Cyprus. On one occasion he had jokingly confided to me that the State Department considered   him  as   an  old-fashioned   Nineteenth  Century   diplomat.

The other view, which I believe was that of Mr. Dean Rusk, conside­red that the United States policy should be to keep both Turkey and Greece on the same footing, without hurting the feelings of either. I also believe that Mr. Kissinger’s policy has been similar to and even stronger than that of Mr. Acheson.

Much later, in 1971 when I became Prime Minister, I was once again interest – this time as political decision taker – in the Cyprus problem and I received a favorable response from Mr. Papadopoulos. My thesis was the following one: We are nearing the end of the Twentieth Century. Relations between states cannot be run in accordance with the menta­lity of Archbishop Makarios, who is basically a Nineteenth Century priest wishing to run a chauvenistic state. We have an excellent opportunity. On Cyprus two communities live side by side in a de facto federation. How nice it would be if they could make it operate. Turkey and Greece have so many points of common interest and have so much reason to be friends and allies that it would be a great pity to ignore these simply to please Makarios. Twenty years later the statesmen of both countries would laugh at us and scorn our policies. Let us not create such a situation. Through our Ambassador in Athens and through the Greek Ambassador in Ankara, Mr. Papadopoulos informed me of his agreement and expressed his similar thoughts: but his response stipulated that we improve upon Turkish-Greek relations without awaiting a solution to the Cyprus question (‘). I informed him that this was not possible. So long as there remained a Cyprus issue Turkish-Greek relations could not possibly be improved. In Cyprus the Greeks had shed much Turkish blood, Greece has to clean this blood away. Neither I, nor any other Turkish Prime Minister could succeed in developing Turkish-Greek re­lations before the restoration of the legitimate Turkish rights in Cyprus, I knew that our interests demanded the improvement of Turkish-Greek relations, but I did not have power to do anything about it before some­thing was done in Cyprus. Messages kept being exchanged between myself and Mr. Papadopoulos through our Ambassadors with solemn expressions of good will. You will recall that during this period significant quarrels took place between Makarios and Papadopoulos. I do not know what was the real cause but I have a feeling that these exchanges had some effect on those quarrels.

Again at about the same time, that is in the fall of 1971, a Swiss pub­lisher by the name of Mr. Nagel asked to see me to present a message from Archbishop Makarios. He said that he was a close friend of the Archbishop and had seen him in Nicosia in September. The Archbishop had told him that he appreciated my qualities as a statesman since he knew me during previous negotiations and that he believed a solution could be found to the Cyprus problem if he and I could meet, and he was ready to come to Turkey to see me. I gave him the following reply: “This is all very interesting. I know his qualities as well, since I negotiated the Cyprus constitution with him for three months. The Archbishop I know pretends that Turks on the island are a minority and he does not accept the principle that the Cyprus state is based on Turkish-Greek partnership. He claims that he signed the constitution under duress and he wants to get  rid of it”. I, therefore, asked the bearer of the message: ”Has Makarios changed his views? Does he admit that the Cyprus state is ba­sed on Turkish-Greek partnership ? If he does, we can meet at any time and indeed we can find a solution. But, first of all, I would like to receive an answer to my questions”. Mr. Nagel said that I was quite right, and I heard nothing further from him or from the Archbishop.

 

I took up this matter further during an offical visit to Paris in the beginning of 1972. During that trip at a reception in the Turkish Embassy I met Makarios’ envoy to Paris, Ambassador Modinos, whom I knew very well. I told him about Mr. Nagel’s visit and my reply to Makarios. He said that he did not know anything about it. But I insisted that he should con­tact the Archbishop and raise the matter with him; he promised to do so and to inform the Turkish Ambassador in Paris. As far as I recall, there was no response from him and this initiative failed to bring any reaction from Archbishop Makarios.

 

(1)  Editor’s note :   For a comprehensive Greek view see :    “Turkish-Greek  Rela­tions”, loannis Tzounis.  Foreign Policy, Vol. I. No. 2.

 

       (*) Published in the fpi Quarterly Foreign Policy, Vol. 4, Nos. 2-3

Visits: 344

STRENGTHENING THE POLITICAL COHESION OF THE ATLANTIC ALLIANCE – İlter Türkmen

STRENGTHENING  THE   POLITICAL COHESION OF THE ATLANTIC ALLIANCE (*)

İlter Türkmen

The political cohesion of the Alliance is a concept which goes beyond harmonization or concertation of foreign policy attitudes and initiatives. It is basically dependent on  the credibility of the deterrence, commitment to the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law which can only be materialized if all Allied countries have democra­tic system of government, the harmonization of the interests of mem­bers, the avoidance of prolonged conflict among partners and a dynamic pursuit of Alliance objectives.

(*)This paper was presented to the Turkish Atlantic Treaty Association Symposium on “NATO After Three Decades” in İstanbul on July 7, 1979

          Published in the fpi Quarterly “Foreign Policy” Vol.8, Nos. 1-2

 

Broadly speaking, the political cohesion of the Alliance is a concept which goes beyond harmonization or concertation of foreign policy attitudes and initiatives. It is basically dependent on the follo­wing elements: the credibility of the deterrence (nuclear strategic forces, theater nuclear forces, conventional forces), the commitment to the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rules of law which can only be materialized if all Allied countries have democra­tic system of government, the harmonization of the interests of mem­bers, the avoidance of prolonged conflict among partners and a dynamic pursuit of Alliance objectives.

  1. Under prevailing international conditions, the security of the members of NATO rests mainly on the balance between the Atlantic Alliance and the Warsaw Pact. Although this balance reflects primarily the equivalance between the strategic nuclear forces of the United States and the Soviet Union, it includes such other factors as the ratio between the conventional forces of the two sides, the degree of political solidarity among the members of the opposing Alliance systems and the implications of the gains or losses of either side in the ongoing political competition in various regions of the world. The process of detente, despite its tortuous course, can foster the objectives of the Alliance only if the members of the Alliance can preserve their cohesion and are able to act in a way which would not permit the exploitation of detente with the aim of undermining their security.

On the other hand, political strength of the Alliance is based on the fact that at present all its members have democratic regimes, sustained in many of them by strong social structures, efficient and pro­ductive economic systems and superior technological performance, that they can display flexibility and adaptability in the face of the profound transformation affecting the world as a whole, instead of being entrapped in misleading slogans and stale ideological app­roaches, It is only by making full use of these advantages that the Alliance can, not withstanding the difficulties it encounters, achive progress in its quest of ensuring peace and stability, promote app­ropriate measures of arms control and disarmament and conduct East-West relationship on a mutually beneficial basis.

  1. The view that the defensive shield of the Atlantic Alliance can be effective only to the degree that it is based on the political solidarity between member countries has dominated the evolution of NATO since the very beginning. With the fading away of the nuclear superiority for the West, the advent of the era of the equivalence between NATO and the Warsaw Pact strategic nuclear forces, and the consequent increase in the risks inherent in a decision to re­sort to nuclear arms, the need to maintain a high degree of political cohesion among Alliance members has acquired an even greater Importance. This has led to a strengthening of the mechanism of po­litical consultations and to the enlargement of the scope of con­sultations to cover world-wide developments, especially those which have or might have a bearing on the global military and political power balance. The management of the relations with the East, the need to gear the process of detente in a way which would not be detrimental to the collective and individual interests of member countries has been still another factor inciting Alliance members to ensure a certain degree of parallelism in their policies towards Eas­tern Europe.

4.With the beginning of the policy of “peaceful coexistence” which the Soviets have adopted after the death of Stalin with the purpose of pursuing competition with the West with all means short of war, a greater harmony of views between the members of the AtIantice had become essential. It is to cope with this challenge that the NATO Council had set up in 1956 a Committee of Three Foreign Ministers to recommend ways and means of strengthening inter allied non-military cooperation. This report exercised a deep influ­ence on political consultations, underlining that there cannot be unity in defence and disunity in political viewpoints, the Report stressed the importance of making political consultations a habit. The Report pointed out that “the essential thing is that on all occasions and in all circumstances, member governments, before acting or pronouncing, should “keep the interests and the requirements of the Alliance in mind.” It was further said that a member government should not, without adequate advance consultation, adopt firm po­licies or make major political pronouncements on matters which significantly affect the Alliance or any of its members, unless circums­tances make such prior consultations obviously and demonstrably impossible.

With the development of East-West relations and the advent of the era of detente, the need of intensive political consultations among allies was even better understood. Under conditions of de­tente, the assessment of Soviet policies and the study of possible changes in those policies, the evaluation of the reaction to action by the NATO Alliance are essentia! for the fulfillment of the tasks incumbent upon the Alliance both in the military and political fields. In 1967, the Harmel Report had emphasized the need to deepen and improve the practice of frank and timely consultations.

  1. Although the system of political consultations has gradually evolved, it has not of course reached the level of coordination of action. The instances of coordination continue to be rare and this is understandable. NATO is not a supranational organisation and was not intended to be one. The decisions are taken on common consent and in matters not directly related to the treaty area the
    Alliance cannot and should not go beyond the harmonization of positions as a maximum objective and to a full and timely discussion among equal partners when the subject matter concerns the policies of an individual member with implications for the Alliance.

In discussing the political cohesion of the Alliance, the main question is, therefore, to determine to what extent the present con­cepts, procedures and practices can contribute to the objective of harmonizing policies and of preventing Allies from taking lines of action working at cross-purposes or from embarking individually on policies not compatible with the justifiable interests of other partners.

  1. Looking back, we can point to many failures of the system consultation as well as to many instances in which the system functioned efficiently. The first important failure occured in 1956, when Great Britain and France decided to intervene against Egypt, following the nationalization of the Suez Canal without informing in advance their other allies, including the United States.

Other instances incompatible with the concept of consultations can be mentioned, in particular the contacts which proceeded the normalization of relations between China and the United States, the Nixon-Brezhnev Pact on the avoidance of nuclear war of 1973 and the nuclear alert called by Washington during the 1973 Middle East War.

Against those failures of consultation within the Alliance, one could ofcourse  enumerate examples of encouraging results, in particular within the field of direct alliance responsibility, such as NATO defence and relations between Western Europe, the United States and the Soviet Union, on which extensive and in most cases trustful consultations took place. These are the Strategic Arms Li­mitations talks, the preparation and follow-up of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Mutual Force Reduc­tion negotiations.

  1. How much the process of consultation is indispensable was revealed once again in connection with the SALT Agreement. Although consultations on this question have been numerous and quite detailed, some implications of the Treaty concerning, in particular, the verification aspect have not emerged until the last moment. Some decisions related to nuclear defense in Europe and which has a bearing at least for future SALT talks have been adopted without consultations.

SALT 2 has involved only the United States and the Soviet Union. But, SALT 3 will have direct implications for Europe, as it will deal with weapons of the gray area. Disarmament and arms control are subjects which will therefore be discussed in depth and more intensively by the Alliance. It is in those discussions that the close relationship between defense planning and arms control and disarmament will have to be weighed from the point of view of the security of the Alliance. The Council will have to assess whether it would be more advantageous for the Atlantic Alliance to devise defense programs based on the introduction of new technology or to seek arms control agreements imposing restrictions to both NATO and the Warsaw Pact in the field of new weapons systems.

  1. One subject which is perennially discussed in NATO Council meetings without producing even a modest degree of harmonization is certainly the Middle East. From the geographical point of view, it has always been erroneous to view the politics and defense of the Mediterranean as entering into the field of direct responsibility of the Alliance, but to consider problems relating to policies towards North Africa or the Middle East as extraneous issues. Political developments and defense issues in the basin of the Mediterranean cannot of course be studied without taking into account the situation in contiguous areas, North Africa and the Middle East. To what extent, the security of the Alliance and East-West relations are affected by the developments in the Middle East have been recon­firmed by the reaction to the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel and the events in Iran. It might be presumptuous to say that more intensive consultations on the Middle East would have enabled the Allies to foresee with more perspicacity the crisis in Iran, but it could have perhaps injected more caution in the policies which pro­ceeded from the comfortable assumption that there was nothing to be feared with regard to the long-term stability of that country under the Shah’s regime .Similarly, not enough attention has been paid to Afghanistan and policies towards Pakistan have been, to say the least, erratic.

We have now in the Middle East a situation which offers a combination of hopeful and dreadful perspectives. The NATO countries need more than ever a correct assessment of the developments in this area and should be able to prevent individual policies incom­patible with each other or directed to achieve opposite objectives.

  1. Economic policies are inevitably an element of defense and diplomacy. But the structure of NATO as an organisation does not allow it to tackle economic problems. On the other hand, it is becoming more and more obvious that in the discussions taking place in international economic and financial organisations, political and defense factors are far from being taken into consideration. In the light of the oil crisis of 1973, and particularly of the new shortages appearing after the events of Iran, the NATO Council should be able to develop a practice which would enable it to include in its evaluation work economic factors and to urge governments to be, in their approaches to problems in international economic organisations more alert to the security and political implications of eco­nomic decisions.

The shortcomings of the Alliance in the economic and financial field have received a new attention recently because of the economic difficulties experienced by some NATO countries, in particular Turkey and Portugal. In such cases, the Alliance should be able to assess the need of likewise countries for economic assistance in the light of the burden they carry in the field of defense, to bear in mind the consequences which would ensue for the Alliance if economic constraints provoke dangerous political and social explosions and encourage and urge its members to give weight to all those considerations in their bilateral and multilateral economic and financial in their bilateral and multilateral economic and financial policies and actions.

  • In proceeding to consultations, larger and smaller members have different perspectives. The large countries would like, to a maximum extent, preserve their freedom of action, but at the same time secure compliance by smaller countries to their policies and initiatives. The smaller countries on the other hand would like to have a feeling of participation, an opportunity to express their views on matters which can have repercussions upon them. They seek to commit larger members to consultations in emergency situations. Of course, the roles might easily be reversed and there might be instances when smaller countries, for varying reasons, would like to evade a commitment to support certain policies and approaches.
  1. The cohesion of an alliance is not only influenced by the degree of political consultations and harmonization of policies it achieves, The visible signs of interdependence and mutual aid are equally important. Member countries experience from time to time political difficulties or economic hardships. Even if the Alliance cannot cope with these problems institutionally, the members of the Alliance should act towards this country in a spirit of partnership and so­lidarity.

In principle, countries which have united their efforts for collective defense and committed themselves to political cooperation should have no enduring conflict between them. Disputes which might erupt between Allies should be settled rapidly in a way which would not affect the political solidarity and the military effectiveness of the Alliance. But unfortunately, this is not always the case. If, therefore, a dispute occurs between member countries, those which are not involved in it have the great responsibility of maintaining a strict neutrality, while endevouring in a discreet way to encourage the parties to negotiations. Nothing can be more damaging for the alliance if countries depart from this rule and try to bring pressure upon one of the parties by resorting to methods detrimental to the purpose of the alliance,

  1. In assessing the contribution of political consultations to the cohesion of the alliance, we have to examine the impact of the fragmentation of the process of consultation. Indeed, the process of consultation suffers at present from a double fragmentation. The separate consultations going on among the member countries of the European Economic Community and the new trend of holding exclusive consultations among some prominent members of the alliance in summit meetings, the most recent examples of such meetings, being the Guadelupe summit.

As far as consultations between members of the EEC are concerned, two considerations should be underlined. Firstly, although there can be no objection to intimate consultations within the framework of EEC to fulfill the purposes of the Rome Treaty, it is significant that these consultations are much more wide ranging and in depth than the consultations taking place in NATO. It can be argued that this is understandable, since the EEC aims eventually at a political union. But even if this is so, one should remember that the political objectives of NATO in a board sense, ecompassing also collective defense and equilibrium, detente and stability in Europe, imply by their very nature the same degree of political interdependence and cohesion as the EEC. The second consideration is that the EEC consultations are distracting from the need to consult between NATO members. What happens very often is that, once the members of the Common Market have discussed an issue among themselves, the United States is consulting with one or some members of the EEC and the NATO process is forgotten. In most international organisations and forums, as well as in various capitals, consultations among representatives of NATO countries have ceased to be practiced. In some forums, consultations among NATO members take place after consultations within the EEC and tend, therefore, to duplicate them in a perfunctory manner.

The strengthening and further development of EEC is certainly in the interest of the North Atlantic Alliance as a whole. No NATO country, non-member of the EEC can therefore oppose the close links between members of the EEC and their desire to harmonize their positions prior to consultations among all NATO countries. But no useful purpose is served if this process is used in a way which erodes the substance of the process of consultations in NATO. In matters which come also under the purview of NATO con­sultations, it should be equally in the interest of EEC members to acquaint themselves thoroughly with the views of non-EEC NATO countries before reaching joint EEC positions. In such instances, EEC  countries  can  perhaps  have  some  preliminary  consultations, but postpone the formulation of  joint or coordinated positions until after an exchange of views has taken place in NATO. On the other hand, on questions which are more related to NATO than EEC, the process of consultations can be conducted directly within the NATO Alliance,

  1. The Guadelupe typ of exclusive summit meetings affect consultations both in NATO and the EEC. That the United States, France, the Federal Republic of Germany and the United Kingdom, by virtues of their political, military and economic power, have greater responsibility in the international arena cannot be disputed. Close bilateral contacts between Heads of Government of these countries and harmony between their policies can only enhance the influence and effectiveness of NATO. But an institutional pro­cess of consultations “a quatre” or “a cinq” is another matter. This is found to create misgivings among smaller members which are understandably opposed to the idea of a kind of directoire of big powers. Even if they are subsequently briefed extensively, those countries will feel that some aspects of restricted consultations have been withheld from them or that they have been denied the opportunity of presenting their views before important decisions af­fecting them individually and the Alliance as a whole have been taken. There is a strong case, therefore, for abandoning Guadelupe type summit meetings unless there is a compelling reason for holding them.
  2. In its fourth decade, the Alliance will continue to be indis­pensable for the security of its members, and as an instrument which enable them to achieve their common political purposes.

In a rapidly changing world, in order to fulfill its mission, the Alliance will need to display more dynamism, more adaptability and a greater political cohesion. The Alliance has so far successfully met several challenges. But under existing conditions and in view of prospective political changes, political cooperation is  bound to become increasingly important.

Visits: 413

DEVELOPMENTS WITHIN THE ATLANTIC COMMUNITY AND TURKEY – Muharrem Nuri Birgi

Security

 

DEVELOPMENTS WITHIN THE ATLANTIC COMMUNITY AND TURKEY (*)

The “Atlantic Community” is an expression of  the unity of destiny and the identity of interest between the United States, Canada and Europe brought forth by the Second World War. The frictions, which have been intensified from time to time, between some European powers and the United States may lead to conclusions contrary to this reality.

Muharrem Nuri Birgi

(*) Published in the fpi Quarterly “Foreign Policy” Vol.3, No. 4

 

One of the most important realities brought forth by the Second World War and its aftermath is that unity of destiny and the identity of interest between the United States, Canada and Europe constitute a lasting geo­political fact and precept. The term “Atlantic Community”  is, therefore, an expression of this reality.

A near-sighted look at the frictions, which have been intensified from time to time during recent years, between some European powers and the United States may lead to conclusions contrary to this reality. However, ninety per cent of these frictions result from endeavours made not to des­troy the Atlantic Community but to adapt it to various developing condi­tions. Yet, if errors accumulate, long-term aims shall have been sacrificed in favour of short-term appearances, and if the dangers are ignored, this process of adaptation may be replaced by explosions and divisions. Des­pite the strength of the logic ordained by geo-political realities, history contains many examples of deviations from the path of reality simply be­cause of lack of wisdom.

The concept of the Atlantic Community has in the North Atlantic Trea­ty Organization found its most comprehensive and effective legal and political expression and military organization.

Within its overall political balance, Turkey has secured the support and cooperation required both for its development and security by basing its place in the Atlantic Community on legal foundations, through its membership in the Council of Europe and associate membership in the Common Market on one hand and through its entry into NATO on the other. Yet, a number of developments are taking place both within Europe and in the relations between Europe and the United States. In the face of these developments what is the present position of Turkey and the state of the foundations on which it has based its policy?

The principal points of  these developments may be sketched as follows :

 

1 – The arrival, following the Second World War, at a point of maxi­mum solidarity and togetherness in the Atlantic Community within the fra­mework of NATO, from the military standpoint, and through the Marshall Plan, as well as a number of bilateral treaties, from the economic view­point.

2 -Then came a gradual attempt to show the cooperation with theUnited States and its military protection as an American domination over Europe, with the increasing frictions between the two shores of the At­lantic and the transformation of these frictions into a viscious circle through increasing economic and technological rivalries.

3The continuation of two divergent currents among the advanced European powers, one aiming at the realization of the United Europe and the other creating obstacles for this unity – due to economic rivalries and attempts at establishing political superiority – runnning parallel to, and in­teracting with the frictions and rivalries which I mentioned above.

For the Western powers, which had come out of the Second World War in a state of utter exhaustion, two vital necessities existed in all their gravity : to achieve an early economic recovery, and to reach the capa­bility of resisting an invasion by Soviet Russia, the danger of which had be­come imminent. While all these needs were secured by the United States through NATO, the Marshall Plan and several bilateral treaties, the pri­celess value of this tremendous protection and assistance of the United States could not but have psychologically crushing, and even in certain respects irritating, aspects. However, so long as a fear for life, and eco­nomic exhaustion dominated the picture, this aspect of the matter was hardly felt.

The unprecedented economic and technological development of Wes­tern Europe and the success of Soviet Russia in transforming the Cold War, which carried with it the danger of a real hot war at any moment, into a form of detente, pushed the fear for life into the background (in many circles it altogether disappeared), and economic and technological rivalry began between the United States and the advanced European pow­ers, which not only no longer needed American assistance, but had reached its level in many fields.

At the same time, a situation began to develop, of direct interest to Turkey. The attitude of highly advanced powers in Western Europe to­wards their developing European allies began to change. Time has shown that the principal factor leading the highly developed powers in Western Europe to firmly embrace their less developed allies within NATO, as far as possible under conditions of equality, was the fear for life created by the probability of an armed invasion by Soviet Russia. In actual fact, this danger of Soviet invasion has not at the present day been eliminated. But as I pointed out above, Soviet propaganda has, with an excellent knowledge of the weaknesses of the West, succeeded in wrapping the Cold War, which presented the danger of turning into hot war, with the cloak of detente. Today, no one can claim that any one of the NATO countries is facing the danger of becoming a victim of an armed Soviet invasion in a matter of days or months-and possibly years. Yet, the frightening scale of increase in Soviet arms, their establishment of naval superiority in all seas and their failure to end activities for creating division among the allies and particularly for separating Europe from America and for destroying every one of them from within, their failure to refuse to go beyond a certain point in both discussions for mutual arms reductions and for the estab­lishment of security and their anxiousness to maintain at such points mi­litary and political superiority to the other side-in other words to weaken the other party – should be considered as evidences to dissuade everyone from claiming that the danger of Soviet invasion is over. Particularly those countries geographically in critical locations are compelled not to over­look the possibility that this danger may, all of a sudden, turn again into an armed invasion.

However, at this moment, particularly in highly developed western countries, the existing detente is considered by the majority as an irre­vocable step towards peace. A large portion of those who are not so opti­mistic wish to believe that through untiring political pressure and leader­ship in setting a good example, and by establishing a political and psych­ological atmosphere of security, the arms may indeed be reduced some day; in other words, putting the cart before the horse, they wish to believe that instead of establishing security through a genuine disarmament, it would be easier to get the parties to drop their arms by creating an at­mosphere of security through a number of promises regarding the observ­ance of human rights, non-agression and friendship. In this miscalcula­tion of the existing dangers and over-optimism, much influence is due to the younger generations which have not gone through the chilling exper­iences of the Second World War and its immediate aftermath, and who listen to the story of those days as if they are listening to a dull lecture of a pedantic professor.

All these have contributed, in the developed western countries, to pushing matters of defense into the background, and bringing economic and technological problems to the foreground. The situation being as it is, the highly developed western powers have started to play the part of a sort  of  first-class  United  Europe among themselves,  throwing   aside or drawing in their wake those who happen to be less fortunate in economic development.

The countries which have made great progress in commerce, industry, economy and technology certainly have problems to discuss and resolve among themselves. In fact, within the Common Market there are countries like «the Nine» on one side, and other associate members like Turkey which are candidates for full membership – countries which through their own volition have agreed to become full members after a certain period of time. However, the Nine have expanded the nature of their communion. There is today an institutionalized Nine. Their ministers or prime ministers meet officially not only to discuss economic matters but also to resolve political and military problems and to determine a joint basis for discus­sions with the United States on political and military matters.

To express it nakedly, those members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (including Turkey) which are outside the Nine are now faced with the fait acompli that a number of questions are either presented to the NATO Council in an already well-defined manner as predetermined by the Nine, or these could be put into execution even without consulting NATO. We hear that the Nine inform their NATO allies which are not among the Nine of matters they have discussed if and when they consider it appropriate. There is no need to stress that this can never be accepted as satisfactory.

If in the course of relations between Europe and the United States – which I will deal with a little later – there is a necessity for a number of prior consultations and preparations among the Europeans – not to es­tablish a front against the United States but to enhance the existing cooperation – there is a Eurogroup within NATO formed for this purpose. This should provide a medium, and not a treaty within the treaty, for those European Allies who might wish to come together regularly to discuss the sharing of defense expenditures, manufacture of arms, etc., and naturally Americans and Canadians should be regularly kept informed. Why then have not the Nine considered this procedure adequate and why have they turned themselves into a separate institution? Here it becomes necessary to make an analysis of the French attitude.

France, even before de Gaulle, had considered itself as the leader of Europe. This claim has lead France to conflicts from time to time with Britain and Germany. Ever since de Gaulle’s advent to power, the French political scene has been dominated by the conviction that the prerequisite for establishing French supremacy in Europe was getting American hands off Europe. Even after de Gaulle’s death, in other words today, this con­tinues to be so. This policy, which exceeds the potential of France, has made its most evident effect felt within NATO. The well-known de Gaulle statements, could be summed up as follows : “The North Atlantic Treaty and its organization, NATO, are separate things. I am staying in the Treaty, but I am withdrawing from NATO, that is, from the military organization and integration of the Treaty.” France has advanced a unilateral theory which is extremely hard to defend logically and legally. Without with­drawing its hands completely from the NATO military organization, i.e. by mainting contact through a number of observers and through other for­mulas, France has established a “national strike force” including nuclear arms but having a limited practical value. In defense of its action France argued openly or by implication that the United States could not be trusted; therefore one had to rely on national forces and that Europe should have a nuclear force independent of the United States. In reality, however, the membership of France within the military organization of NATO was not at all an obstacle to France’s developing a nuclear strike force of its own. In fact, Great Britain has a nuclear force which is at least as big as that of France, but Great Britain has not left the NATO inte­gration. Moreover, while de Gaulle stated that Europe should have its own force he did not conceal that France would not agree to share its own nuclear force with other European countries.

My purpose is not to criticize the French policy but merely to state the reason why the «Nine» behave as if they have thrown NATO aside. Since, in order to reach a common position in a community, it is customary to reach an agreement on the basis of the maximum acceptable to the dissenting partner, the dominant view among the «Nine» has generally been that of France, which does not participate in the Eurogroup within NATO and which claims that since, where the United States is present its views weigh heavily, European issues should be discussed only in those parleys where the United States is not present. Recently a French paper, referring to the tightening of the rope by the French Foreign Minister al­most to the breaking point on every occasion, stated that this might lead France’s allies to get used to acting eventually without France. Considering the position of France within the West European community, this guess may not be one hundred per cent true, but in certain matters, one may think, it is not absolutely wrong either.

Looking at the present state of the «Nine», quarrelling on almost every economic issue, anxieties of superiority and egotism making themselves apparent in political matters, one might think that such a community should not be highly effective and could in any case hardly replace the NATO Council. This would be a shortsighted conclusion and should not  be an excuse for Turkey  to remain outside  the door of the  «Nine»  as far as political and military matters are concerned. Since Turkey is not yet a full member of the Common Market, it may not be possible for it to demand full participation in all meetings of the Nine. However, a sui generis practical solution can be found for its participation in discussions on such vital issues as defence, security, East-West relations, and the future of European unity. We are living in an age of empiricism and pragmatism; in politics a way out can always be found to every problem when there is a will. This problem, which is a simple one, should be no exception in this general atmosphere of pragmatism. Casting aside the doubts on the efficacy of the «Nine», there is a problem of principle : if we are a part of Europe and if we are a member of the Atlantic Community, all that this necessitates should be carried out. The problem is beyond being an issue of pride or prestige. It is a matter of serving the needs of our foreign policy and of our basic interests.

In saying this I fully realize that alongside what the «Nine» should do for us, we sould not forget that there are many things we also have to do. To become part of the community formed by the developed members of the Atlantic Community, which is the brain and main source of the present civilization where technology, industry, commerce and culture play an ex­tremely important role, requires an early approach to their level of devel­opment. Otherwise, there are bound to be differences between us, and the effects of these differences will be felt at the most unexpected moments. It is hard to say that the present development and progress of Turkey rep­resents the maximum of its potential. We have to mobilize, in a scientific and systematic manner, all our energy and means because the time is over for consoling ourselves by boasting of some results obtained here and there.

In this connection I wish to add my belief that considerations such as “does Turkey belong to the West or to the East? Turkey should choose one” refer not to the conditions of today but to those of the past centuries, because, with the elimination of sense of distance, comrnunication be­coming a matter of moments, and civilizations interacting with each other, the division of the world into parts such as Europe, Asia, etc. has almost become meaningless in many respects. Today even the most fanatical states accept modern technology and the way of living composed by it. The only way for us is the one followed by almost all the countries of the world: i.e. to attain a level of industry, trade and culture which allows everyone in the country to benefit from prosperity. We believe that the most abundant possibilities and methods for attaining this are to be found in the Atlantic Community, of which we are a part thanks to the opportun­ity created by our geo – political position. We have to make up for the time lost without delay.

I would like to pass over now to the relations between Europe and the United States.

There is still not a unified European position, attitude or voice. As I pointed out above there is a French position which is unique and which can even be described as anti-European unity in some respects. Even within Benelux (Belgium, Holland, and Luxemburg) sometimes different voices are heard. Although Germany and Great Britain have common points, they also differ in details.

Despite all these differences, in European countries – even including France in certain respects – and in the United States, there is a conviction that both sides depend on each other. !n the beginning of my article I stat­ed that the Atlantic Community was a constant geo-political reality re­vealed by the Second World War. This reality creates the hope that cer­tain frictions that now exist between the developed European powers and the United States have after all a ceiling; in other words, the rope may be tightened but it will not break. The fact that even France does not object to the stationing of American Military Forces in Europe and feels it ne­cessary to state its attachment to the North Atlantic Treaty might be considered as a sign of hope in that respect.

Immediately after the Second World War, a sort of balance was es­tablished between the worn-out Europe and the United States, a super­power which played the role of a protective parent – a relationship between the protector and the protected. Now what is involved between the enriched group of European powers claiming a personality and the United States is a balance of partnership. The difference between the two situations can be reduced if realism prevails over mutual sensitivity. Then a trouble – free transition from one to the other would become possible. Furthermore, its status of super power gives United States a position of su­periority vis-a-vis European powers, which are unable to unite and coor­dinate their energies, and the assessment of the measure of this superi­ority brings forth a number of highly delicate issues.

A review of the current points of friction would reveal that most of these are between the developed countries and the United States. In other words, these are not problems of direct concern to Turkey, but, without any doubt, in the long run these will a!so concern Turkey, or at least their effects will be felt by us.

It is remarkable that even the proposal made last year by Mr. Kissen-ger for a new Atlantic Declaration and for sharing the burden of NATO de­fenses, which interests Turkey highly, smells of the current frictions between the United States and developed countries, in fact, the idea of a new Atlantic Declaration aims at eliminating the poisonous effects of the current frictions by sharing the NATO defense burden with developed countries and treating NATO defense matters as a whole together with economic and monetary issues.

My purpose in pointing out some peculiarities of the situation is only to emphasize that due to our position, which is not in direct conflict with the United States, there would be very rare occasions on which we would find ourselves in a situation compelling us to take sides in the disputes between the two coasts of the Atlantic. By saying this I do not mean that we should stand aside. On the contrary, in many cases, particularly as regards the Kissinger proposal I mentioned above, we have always to be very active. There may even be a possibility for us to act as a mediator.

The frictions between some developed European powers or groups of powers should not lead us to a search of conscience by attempting to answer such questions as “whether we should prefer the United States to Europe or Europe to the United States”. The policy that suits Turkey’s in­terests best is the Atlantic policy, as a Europe without the United States or a United States without Europe will always represent for us a lame and crippled policy. Such a policy has two fields of application : one is NATO and the other our bilateral relations.

The policy which we have been following for many years now cannot be described otherwise. However, implementation of this policy has not been adequately fruitful due to a number of rather psychological comp­lexes on our part.

I wish to conclude my article by enumerating these complexes :

  • — We turn our backs to issues which are not or do not seem to be convenient to us; whereas we should be interested or should take part in a number of situations or issues which are inconvenient to us; their feared harmful effects can only be eliminated or alleviated in this manner, not by leaving the field free for others.
  • — From time to time we restrict or blunt our initiatives by asking such outdated and senseless questions as “East? or West?” as I men­tioned above.
  • — Both within NATO and within the field of our overall policy we are interested in a problem only if and when it has an aspect that would affect us in an immediate future, in many instances, with the resulting passivity we have practically made ourselves forgotten.
  • — In a number of cases we have turned our attention to an issue only after it has matured and become hard to change, and thus we have become constant complainers.

5 — Generally our policy remains at the «defensive» level; i.e., we have generally found it convenient to prevent ripening developments or state our objections and work on the initiatives of others without making counter proposals of our own for the solution of the problems at hand.

It is possible for us to keep in step with the tempo of Western dip­lomacy, which is in continuous development, through a number of confer­ences, proposals, counter proposals, and official as well as unofficial contacts and communications, because we have enough men to succeed in this type of work if used properly.

Visits: 337

Aegean: Renewed Turkish – Greek Dialogue Seyfi Taşhan – 13 March 2002

Aegean: Renewed Turkish – Greek Dialogue

Seyfi Taşhan – 13 March 2002

After many years of refusal to talk with Turkey on the Aegean issues, the first encounter on these issues took place yesterday between Turkish and Greek diplomats in Ankara and will continue next month in Athens . Certainly this development is an achievement of the foreign ministers of the two countries whose policy of rapprochement brought the Greek diplomats who refused to talk nothing about the Aegean except taking the issue of the delimitation of the continental shelf in the Aegean to International Court of Justice. Until 1997 Turkey categorically rejected going to international arbitration on the continental shelf unless there were negotiations on all the contentious issues in the Aegean Sea. Basically, these issues were Greek initiatives taken over many decades upsetting the balance established between the two countries with the peace treaty of Lausanne signed in 1923.

It is true that in 1960s and 1970s these problems were discussed between the two sides under the shadow of the major Cyprus dispute that concerned not only the Turkish and Greek Communities in the island but also the two mainland. After 1980s with advent to power in Greece of the father Papandreu, all dialogue between the two countries were terminated, and people of Greece were led to believe that there was a Turkish military threat against Greece. Two points of view were advanced in the Greek public opinion. One the view argued that  Cyprus formed the crux of the dispute between the two countries and before its shadow was removed Greece could not discuss anything in the Aegean. The second was even more chauvinistic and defiant in simply refusing to discuss anything on Aegean which they considered was Greek.

The dialogue and contacts that began between the two countries several years ago and the initiation of direct talks between the two communities in Cyprus may have created the necessary atmosphere for renewed dialogue on the Aegean. Yet, it might be too soon to expect speedy solutions to all the problems on which the two countries and public opinions have hardened views and attitudes.

Let us take the continental shelf which the Greeks still consider as the only contentious issue that could be solved through resort to the International Court of Justice. Had the only problem in the Aegean been only the continental shelf delimitation it could have been possible to accept immediate joint recourse to international arbitration. However from the Turkish point of view other issues of dispute are directly or indirectly related and inter-linked with the continental shelf issue. Take for example, the question of territorial waters in the Aegean, a semi-closed sea dotted with many islands. Currently, territorial waters are limited to six miles.
This breadth of sovereign area leaves a substantial part of the Aegean as international waters (see map). Under the Law of the Seas Convention of which Turkey is not a signatory , the territorial waters of the islands may be extended up to 12 miles.
If Greece decides to use this right generally applicable in open seas it will take most of the Aegean under its sovereignty and Turkish and other flag ships will have to pass through Greek waters to cross the Aegean. In case of Turkey passage from one Turkish port to the other will also have to pass also through Greek waters. Greece currently reserves the right to extend their territorial waters to twelve miles. If she chooses to do so before or after arbitration on the continental shelf there will be no case to go bring to arbitration because there will be no international continental shelf to be divided. It is for this reason that Turkey declared the possible extension of the territorial waters in the Aegean  a “causus belli” in order to assert the vital importance of this issue and to demonstrate that he such a move could prejudice other issues of contention in the Aegean. Among other issues such as the current air space of 10 miles is an odd Greek practice recognized by no one. The fate of the rocks and uninhabited islets in the international waters is also an issue linked with the delimitation of the continental shelf and of the territorial waters. The sheer violations by Greece of the Lausanne Treaty that demilitarized the Greek islands in the proximity of the Turkish coast and of the Italian Peace Treaty that transferred the Dodacanese islands Greece but kept them disarmed are also very important security concerns for both Turkey’s coastal regions and also for the safety of the sea traffic and cannot be ignored on the basis of the Greek claim that this is a matter that concerns only the Greek sovereignty.

Since the dialogue has begun several years ago between the two governments and the civil sectors of both countries,  many  statesmen  as well as significant portions of public opinion in Greece have come to the conclusion that Turkey can no longer be considered a threat to Greece, and that the two countries have significant interest in bilateral cooperation not mention their common interests in the Balkans, the Black Sea region and in the Mediterranean.

If we recall that in 1930 the treaty of alliance and friendship between the two countries gave the right to each party in international conferences to represent the other if he could not attend that meeting, it would not be terribly difficult both for the Turks and the Greeks to adopt the liberal European integrative approach in their bilateral relation.

The international conditions are quite suitable for the success of this newly begun dialogue on the Aegean and we have practically no reason to be pessimist for the eventual outcome.

Visits: 265

RECENT ECONOMIC SITUATION IN GREECE Interview with Assist. Prof. Dimitris Tsarouhas, April 19th 2010

RECENT ECONOMIC SITUATION IN GREECE

Interview with Assist. Prof. Dimitris Tsarouhas, April 19th 2010

What do you think are the causes of the economic crisis in Greece?

The causes are many and the current crisis only one expression of the structural economic problems Greece’s has. I would say that the fundamental problem is a chronic lack of competitiveness which has eventually burst out into the open following Greece’s entry into the Eurozone area.  Entry into the Eurozone area has instead of becoming a motivation for the improvement Greece’s economic performance has in some respect become an excuse not to implement reforms that have been long overdue. These reforms are many and, in fact, should not be limited to the economic sphere only. When it comes to the economy itself we are fundamentally talking about the need to make both the public and private sector work more efficiently. That is something that has not happened in Greece and I believe at the heart of the current problems of Greece is this chronic lack of competitiveness, as it has been manifested over the last few years.

The EU wants to seem to be in control over the situation and the Germans have been cryptic in their announcements, but they finally agreed to the idea of offering Greece a loan. Do you think the situation in Greece will lead to any serious disagreements in the European Union?  Will it cause problems in inter-EU relations and in the functioning of the Eurozone? There are upcoming elections in some EU countries; will Greece become a part of the election rhetoric? 

There are two things to mention. First of all, this is not a bilateral loan. What has been agreed upon both in late March and then again in early April is that the EU would come to the rescue of the Greek economy should the Greek economy, i.e. the Greek government, be unable to raise funds in the open market. This is not a bilateral loan and the Greek government has repeatedly said that it is not after a bilateral loan.

Secondly, I would agree with the assessment that disagreements have risen between Germany and the other countries in the Eurozone. I would say that there has been a clear disagreement and here the issue is not Greece anymore. Here the issue is the Eurozone. The German government has taken the position that any Eurozone economy which finds itself in difficulty – it happens to be Greece now it could have been Spain or Portugal, and in fact it maybe Spain and Portugal in the future – should find the way out themselves. The predominant opinion in the EU, and one which I also share, is that within the Eurozone mechanisms of assistance are necessary, not because anyone wants to bail out any particular economy – in this case, the Greek economy – and of course no tax payer wants to bail out the failings of another economy.  Greece’s fundamental economic problem is one which it needs to sort out itself.  However, here we are talking about the functioning of the Eurozone and the credibility of the Eurozone’s own common currency. The vast majority of the opinions, as expressed by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and by the vast majority of EU member states and Eurozone states is that when a country finds itself in difficulty, there needs to be a mechanism of assistance so that the credibility of the Euro in the international market will not go down and the Eurozone economy, as whole, is not going to suffer. So, yes, there is a disagreement there, there is a misunderstanding on the part of Germany – or there possibly a failing on the part of the current German government to appreciate the need for a mechanism that will build on a certain amount of sovereignty so as to help not Greece, Spain or Portugal individually but Eurozone collectively.

Why can they not see it? They probably can, but the answer is very much related to internal politics and the fact that the current German coalition government composed of the Christian Democrats and the Free Democrats are suffering from a lack of direction, a lack of popularity and it has upcoming local elections, in which its opinion poll ratings seem to be quite low. So the idea of creating an image according to which Germany somehow going to be asked to bail out Greece is a very comfortable image and I am sure it sells well domestically, but it does not do much to help the Eurozone.

Greece was offered 30 billion Euros by Eurozone members and the IMF also offered to pitch in another 15 billion Euros. Should the loans be insufficient to alleviate Greece’s economic problems, might Greece seek money from other sources in the future?

Yes. First of all let me clarify that I am not familiar with the details of the last few days the picture I left this prior to our conversation was a mixed representation group featuring IMF and EU would be coming to Athens but they might have been delayed because of the ash-cloud. They were meant to go to Greece today and speak with the respective ministers to decide on the details of how a possible package would look like. So, both the amount of money you mentioned and the actual mechanisms are not clear to me and I do not wish to take position on an issue I do not know all the details of. What I can say is that Greece has a large debt to defend and the debt runs, to a very large extent, until May for the year 2010. However, we are also talking about tens billions of Euros of debt that need to be supported for 2011 and 2012 as well. My assumption is, and I am sure the Greek government has worked this out; any kind of package will be fairly medium-term. There is going to be a need to cover financial needs over the next 2-3 years.

Will the funds be enough? Goodness knows. My prediction is that they will be, for one simple reason: if this package was to be made available in terms that would allow the Greek state to borrow with reasonable interest rates, I think that would be enough. I do not think any extra measures would be necessary. I think the Greek government has taken enough measures on the domestic front to raise revenues and it is to be hoped that this will happen. With regard to the debt it needs to defend, I think that such a package would be a good deal. However, to me it seems to be very important to understand what the nature of the problem is. The nature of the problem is not an attempt by Greece to be bailed out – this is not what the Greek government is requesting. What the Greek government is requesting, and legitimately, that it be allowed to borrow – no state aid – in the open market with normal interest rates. The picture we have had is one of utter amazement and confusion, because despite the repeated messages being sent out by the European Union that it is ready to come to Greece’s aid, the markets refuse to reduce the interest rate on the basis of which they lend money to the Greek state. We are talking about interest rates which are clear robbery: 6-7%; in some respects, hundreds of millions of Euros extra. There is a speculative game being played out and Greece is the first victim of this in the Eurozone. I hope not that others will follow. This game has been based primarily on two pillars. The first one is the unregulated free market, which is a dogma the Europeans are now paying dear. Secondly, the absence of mechanisms within the Eurozone to prevent such speculation from taking place. That is the nature of the problem and is what the Eurozone economies and the Greek government has to face. It is only to be hoped that the problem will be solved the problem in a way that will make sense for all of them.

Have you been to Greece recently? What is going in Greece, domestically? What do the Greeks think about the current economic situation and the EU?

I have not been to Greece in recent months but from what I read, the people are very disappointed with the fact that their economic conditions are getting worse. They are angry at the political establishment and by that I mean both previous governments and the current one. On the basis of the latest data that I have seen, they are not very optimistic about the future. They believe that the future, at least over the next 3-4 years, is going to be much worse than the recent past. That, of course, is to be expected. It is something that happens in all such occasions when a crisis is revealed. I should also add the public is very much worried precisely because it sees that the economic prospects for the future are very bleak. This is not simply about the present. I am afraid that most people believe, or have reason to believe, that the effects of the austerity measures the Greek government has taken are going to start hitting in the next few months and in a few years to come. They have not yet hit the Greek economy. When they start doing so, things will be gravely seriously and I think the people can foresee this. They can see that the tax measures that have been taken and the budget cuts will all hit them in the years to come. The consequences will be very large and I am afraid quite dramatic in some cases.

Visits: 191

TURKISH – GREEK RELATIONS REVISITED (SEYFi TAŞHAN-REŞAT ARIM-OKTAY AKSOY)

TURKISH – GREEK RELATIONS REVISITED

(SEYFi TAŞHAN-REŞAT ARIM-OKTAY AKSOY)

Seyfi Taşhan – In recent weeks there has been certain developments in Turkish –Greek relations. This development began with the election of Young Papandreou as the Prime Minister of Greece. He was known to be in favor of good relations with Turkey. He had made friendship with the late Foreign Minister Ismail Cem. In fact  what he did was coming to Istanbul after elections where he paid a visit to his tomb. These gestures of friendship on the part of Greece did not fail to create a positive reaction in Turkey. The positive reaction was that the Prime Minister of Turkey wrote a letter to Mr. Papandreou and made a number of suggestions, the contents of which have not yet been disclosed. But it seems that these suggestions were concrete and to the point and that  the initial Greek reaction was a positive one. Apparently it offered a new method of dialog between Greece and Turkey, to solve the problems joint efforts were needed and it suggested that Turkey would provide every support for a solution. This was followed by a visit to Athens by the Turkish State Minister in charge EU affairs and Chief Negotiator Mr.Egemen Bağış. He also made very friendly statements while in Athens and  everyone hoped that these relations will show a change. But when and how and what changes are to be made remain as a question.

Reşat Arım –  Turkey is trying to have good relations with the all its neighbors. Therefore, it is normal that this opportunity was not lost on Turkey, that is to say, election of a new Prime Minister Mr. Papandreou. Of course, we remember that in 1999 when  Turkey’s candidate status was accepted at the Helsinki summit of the European Union, Mr. Papandreou, who was the Foreign Minister at the time, came to Ankara and made good speeches saying that he would be willing to support  Turkey’s membership in EU. Now, this time, of course we have the Aegean problems and of course the Cyprus issue. These two problems will have to be taken up when the climate will be alright for the two parties.

Oktay Aksoy – It is true that we have declared  our intention to have  zero problem with all our neighbors, as you have mentioned. It is no surprise that we had also a positive approach to the new Greek government. The earlier Mr. Mitsotakis government was a bit hesitant  to further relations with Turkey and they were satisfied with positive developments only in the economic field. But, the issues related with the Aegean and Cyprus remained and we are now approaching the EU summit, where Turkey-Cyprus relations will be considered. Papandreou’s  coming to power  has given us an opportunity to try to improve relations as he is known in Turkey as someone who would be helping Turkey’s EU bid. But of course, when Turkey’s candidate status was approved in Helsinki in 1999 the governments in power in the EU countries were more social democrat than at present. We have Great Britain and Greece now who can collaborate. And although not a social democrat, the government in Sweden is also supporting Turkey’s accession process and as the term President may be helpful. But we will see how things will develop.

Seyfi Taşhan – Of course, the EU aspect  is an important part of the Turkish- Greek relations because if we recall the history, Greece entered into EU to the detriment  of  Turkey’s relations with EU. And it has blocked  Turkey’s relations with EU from 1981 to 1992, really, when EU decided to establish custom’s union with Turkey. However, if we look at the content of the problem, the Aegean, it is simple to say  that the Aegean is the problem, as EU did, it is simple to resolve the territorial  disputes. It is easy to say that the Cyprus problem can be resolved. For an  outsider these are simple issues but for the insiders each of these issues has many dimensions. I believe to isolate Cyprus issue from Turkish- Greek relations is not possible. Because the birth of the Cyprus issue finds itself in Greek nationalism and Turkish reaction to it. So the basic problem to my mind is to prepare the psychological terrain and the mutual confidence. But before the Cyprus question is resolved, do you think it is possible to create this psychological atmosphere for furthering these relations. We remember well that Papandreou and İsmail Cem tried to revive the peace process or  understanding or agreement between Greece and Turkey but they failed miserably because of the public opinion resistance to any sacrifice on the part of the Aegean. Actually Aegean requires mutual sacrifice for a solution. Now if we look at the specific problems in the Aegean, they are not easy to resolve. Also the Cyprus question is being negotiated for a long time and still there is no solution. Now how can we create this psychological atmosphere?

Reşat Arım – Of course, it is difficult  because the main thing is to have a dialog between Turkey and Greece. To obtain the climate of dialog, it seems that Cyprus is the main impediment. Of course, if we look back to the 1950s, Turkey and Greece had very good relations. Then the Cyprus question came to the fore when United Kingdom wanted to relinguish its sovereignty on the Island. Turkey and Greece  had demands on Cyprus and because the climate was  right for mutual compromise, the Prime Ministers of Turkey and Greece came together to find a formula whereby an independent state was created. However, that was during Cold War conditions, there was the Non-Aligned Movement, etc. Cyprus kind of went afar from the domain of Turkey and Greece, of course the Greek side had the advantage because of  the United Nation Security Council resolution, because the Turks were ousted from the Government in Cyprus. But I believe that two governments had a disadvantage in having a decision on Cyprus.

Seyfi Taşhan – I would like just to add one point. You are absolutely right that Cyprus problem is a sine qua non in relations between Turkey and Greece. However up to now it was Greece’s attitude that Cyprus is an independent state and it has no persuasive  power or persuasive role on the Greek Cypriot government for any kind of solution with  the Turkish part of Cyprus. So, will it be possible to solve the Cyprus question without Turkey, Greece and both sides of Cyprus and probably also the other guarantor power, the United Kingdom? If there is no four party dialogue  and  understanding towards a solution, the problem remains. At least these four parties can agree on the fundamentals of a solution, leaving the details between two communities. I do not know if Mr. Papandreou, in spite of his desire to resolve the problems with Turkey, is capable of assuming such a responsibility with Cyprus issue. May I ask you to comment of this?

Oktay Aksoy – What degree of influence he may have on Greek  Cypriots is not clear but one thing is definite, both the Greek Cypriot leader, the Turkish Cypriot leader and  the Greek Prime Minister are left leaning politicians. So they may find a common ground in that respect and may find some support from other EU leaders. But I am not sure if they will use this influence to find a solution. Greece’s interest in having Turkey as a member of the EU rather than drifting away from Europe may also play a role.

Seyfi Taşhan – Well, you brought an interesting subject. Would the foreign relations of a country be affected by the political leaning of  the party in power? S, if we say the Greek Cypriots are socialist, Turkish Cypriots are socialists and the Greeks are socialist, we may be hopeful. But against that, the current Turkish government which seeks most for the solution of the problem is a right wing party. That contradicts, I am sorry to say, your argument to a certain degree. The point is that negotiation stage of Cyprus at the moment seems to be not encouraging so it is also dubious if the two sides can reach an agreement on the substantive issues of sovereignty of  the two communities, although they say two states must be formed, but what sort of two states would be accepted?  What will be the form of the republic? They say that it would be federal republic but what sort of a federation it will be? So, I believe the Cyprus issue is also, even if we  assumed  that  the two leaders of Cyprus have all the desire to reach a solution, the solution is hampered by the double hat of the Greek Cypriots. While on the one hand they are community, on the other, they are the state of Cyprus. So, this is  anomaly certainly affects, it has a great bearing on the outcome of the negotiations. So, that is why I said, will Mr. Papandreou have enough influence on Greek Cypriots? Otherwise, Greek Cypriots may not see an advantage on a solution simply because they are the Republic of Cyprus and that in the eyes of the European Union and in the world, when there is a solution they will be sharing Cyprus with the Turkish Cypriots. So, I do not know what encouragement or what incentive they will have for reaching a solution. That is a realist approach. Certainly they also may have a desire to have a peaceful Cyprus in which both sides will be cooperating toward the welfare of Cyprus,  of all the island. So far I do not see  the demonstration of such a desire on the part of Greek leadership.

Reşat Arım – To get out of this impasse maybe we have to introduce the concept of conjuncture, in the international system as it evolves, we see that countries are more amenable to solving their problems and on the whole it is the soft power that is commending the actions of  the states. Between Turkey and Greece we had many good times for example in the 1930s between Atatürk and Venizelos. To come to a compromise  solution on Cyprus, the two countries can make an effort. Also, they may encourage the two sides in Cyprus to make all the effort possible. There is serious discussion of all aspects of the problem under the Good affices Mission of the UN Secretary General. Certainly, it would be a pity to let this opportunity press.

Visits: 211

RECENT ECONOMIC SITUATION IN GREECE – INTERVIEW WITH ASSIST. PROF. DIMITRIS TSAROUHAS, (APRIL 19TH 2010)

RECENT ECONOMIC SITUATION IN GREECE

Interview with Assist. Prof. Dimitris Tsarouhas, April 19th 2010

What do you think are the causes of the economic crisis in Greece?

The causes are many and the current crisis only one expression of the structural economic problems Greece’s has. I would say that the fundamental problem is a chronic lack of competitiveness which has eventually burst out into the open following Greece’s entry into the Eurozone area.  Entry into the Eurozone area has instead of becoming a motivation for the improvement Greece’s economic performance has in some respect become an excuse not to implement reforms that have been long overdue. These reforms are many and, in fact, should not be limited to the economic sphere only. When it comes to the economy itself we are fundamentally talking about the need to make both the public and private sector work more efficiently. That is something that has not happened in Greece and I believe at the heart of the current problems of Greece is this chronic lack of competitiveness, as it has been manifested over the last few years.

The EU wants to seem to be in control over the situation and the Germans have been cryptic in their announcements, but they finally agreed to the idea of offering Greece a loan. Do you think the situation in Greece will lead to any serious disagreements in the European Union?  Will it cause problems in inter-EU relations and in the functioning of the Eurozone? There are upcoming elections in some EU countries; will Greece become a part of the election rhetoric? 

There are two things to mention. First of all, this is not a bilateral loan. What has been agreed upon both in late March and then again in early April is that the EU would come to the rescue of the Greek economy should the Greek economy, i.e. the Greek government, be unable to raise funds in the open market. This is not a bilateral loan and the Greek government has repeatedly said that it is not after a bilateral loan.

Secondly, I would agree with the assessment that disagreements have risen between Germany and the other countries in the Eurozone. I would say that there has been a clear disagreement and here the issue is not Greece anymore. Here the issue is the Eurozone. The German government has taken the position that any Eurozone economy which finds itself in difficulty – it happens to be Greece now it could have been Spain or Portugal, and in fact it maybe Spain and Portugal in the future – should find the way out themselves. The predominant opinion in the EU, and one which I also share, is that within the Eurozone mechanisms of assistance are necessary, not because anyone wants to bail out any particular economy – in this case, the Greek economy – and of course no tax payer wants to bail out the failings of another economy.  Greece’s fundamental economic problem is one which it needs to sort out itself.  However, here we are talking about the functioning of the Eurozone and the credibility of the Eurozone’s own common currency. The vast majority of the opinions, as expressed by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and by the vast majority of EU member states and Eurozone states is that when a country finds itself in difficulty, there needs to be a mechanism of assistance so that the credibility of the Euro in the international market will not go down and the Eurozone economy, as whole, is not going to suffer. So, yes, there is a disagreement there, there is a misunderstanding on the part of Germany – or there possibly a failing on the part of the current German government to appreciate the need for a mechanism that will build on a certain amount of sovereignty so as to help not Greece, Spain or Portugal individually but Eurozone collectively.

Why can they not see it? They probably can, but the answer is very much related to internal politics and the fact that the current German coalition government composed of the Christian Democrats and the Free Democrats are suffering from a lack of direction, a lack of popularity and it has upcoming local elections, in which its opinion poll ratings seem to be quite low. So the idea of creating an image according to which Germany somehow going to be asked to bail out Greece is a very comfortable image and I am sure it sells well domestically, but it does not do much to help the Eurozone.

Greece was offered 30 billion Euros by Eurozone members and the IMF also offered to pitch in another 15 billion Euros. Should the loans be insufficient to alleviate Greece’s economic problems, might Greece seek money from other sources in the future?

Yes. First of all let me clarify that I am not familiar with the details of the last few days the picture I left this prior to our conversation was a mixed representation group featuring IMF and EU would be coming to Athens but they might have been delayed because of the ash-cloud. They were meant to go to Greece today and speak with the respective ministers to decide on the details of how a possible package would look like. So, both the amount of money you mentioned and the actual mechanisms are not clear to me and I do not wish to take position on an issue I do not know all the details of. What I can say is that Greece has a large debt to defend and the debt runs, to a very large extent, until May for the year 2010. However, we are also talking about tens billions of Euros of debt that need to be supported for 2011 and 2012 as well. My assumption is, and I am sure the Greek government has worked this out; any kind of package will be fairly medium-term. There is going to be a need to cover financial needs over the next 2-3 years.

Will the funds be enough? Goodness knows. My prediction is that they will be, for one simple reason: if this package was to be made available in terms that would allow the Greek state to borrow with reasonable interest rates, I think that would be enough. I do not think any extra measures would be necessary. I think the Greek government has taken enough measures on the domestic front to raise revenues and it is to be hoped that this will happen. With regard to the debt it needs to defend, I think that such a package would be a good deal. However, to me it seems to be very important to understand what the nature of the problem is. The nature of the problem is not an attempt by Greece to be bailed out – this is not what the Greek government is requesting. What the Greek government is requesting, and legitimately, that it be allowed to borrow – no state aid – in the open market with normal interest rates. The picture we have had is one of utter amazement and confusion, because despite the repeated messages being sent out by the European Union that it is ready to come to Greece’s aid, the markets refuse to reduce the interest rate on the basis of which they lend money to the Greek state. We are talking about interest rates which are clear robbery: 6-7%; in some respects, hundreds of millions of Euros extra. There is a speculative game being played out and Greece is the first victim of this in the Eurozone. I hope not that others will follow. This game has been based primarily on two pillars. The first one is the unregulated free market, which is a dogma the Europeans are now paying dear. Secondly, the absence of mechanisms within the Eurozone to prevent such speculation from taking place. That is the nature of the problem and is what the Eurozone economies and the Greek government has to face. It is only to be hoped that the problem will be solved the problem in a way that will make sense for all of them.

Have you been to Greece recently? What is going in Greece, domestically? What do the Greeks think about the current economic situation and the EU?

I have not been to Greece in recent months but from what I read, the people are very disappointed with the fact that their economic conditions are getting worse. They are angry at the political establishment and by that I mean both previous governments and the current one. On the basis of the latest data that I have seen, they are not very optimistic about the future. They believe that the future, at least over the next 3-4 years, is going to be much worse than the recent past. That, of course, is to be expected. It is something that happens in all such occasions when a crisis is revealed. I should also add the public is very much worried precisely because it sees that the economic prospects for the future are very bleak. This is not simply about the present. I am afraid that most people believe, or have reason to believe, that the effects of the austerity measures the Greek government has taken are going to start hitting in the next few months and in a few years to come. They have not yet hit the Greek economy. When they start doing so, things will be gravely seriously and I think the people can foresee this. They can see that the tax measures that have been taken and the budget cuts will all hit them in the years to come. The consequences will be very large and I am afraid quite dramatic in some cases.

Visits: 124