Greece and Turkey Playing Nice?

So, a Turk walks into a bar…

Oh wait, I’m not telling a joke. Rather, I’m writing an article. But that’s difficult to remember when the Turk in question is Erdoğan and the “bar” is Greece.

Turkey’s First Couple signing the book of honor as the Greek President looks on (Photo: Press service of the President of Turkey)

A friend recently sent me a BBC news item reporting on an historic visit by a Turkish President to Greece, the first in 65 years. You won’t be surprised to learn that Erdoğan played the boorish guest almost as soon as he arrived. Fortunately, he was put in his place. Too bad he wasn’t shown the door right back out of the “bar”!

On the first day of his visit, Erdoğan was whining about insufficient “support… in terms of investments” for and “discrimination” against Turks in Greece. He also asserted that some points of the Treaty of Lausanne lacked clarity.

The temerity and unmitigated shameless brazenness of this latter-day wannabe Sultan is more breathtaking then a kick in the gut. Supposedly, Athens appointed a mufti (leader, Islamic expert) for the Turks living in the country rather than allowing them to choose their own. I don’t know what the rules are regarding the filling of this position, but for the purposes of this discussion, they are not relevant.

Aside from the fact that this probably only means the guy Erdoğan wanted didn’t get the job, the hypocrisy manifested is astounding. Does Erdoğan have multiple personalities? Is one of those unaware that the other is jerking around Turkey’s Armenian community around, preventing the election of a new Patriarch of Bolis? And, in this case, there are well established rules dating back to the adoption of the constitution governing such procedures back in 1863.

The discrimination complaint is equally hypocritical. I suppose there’s yet another Erdoğan personality in charge of jailing and murdering Kurds, one more for mistreating Alevis, a fifth for discriminating against Jews…

The funniest Erdoğan “plaint” is the one about the lack of clarity in the Treaty of Lausanne. He wants to rejigger it to make it even more favorable to Turkey, I suppose. Perhaps we, along with other signatories, should propose a deal, the mother of all deals (to make President Trump happy). We’ll agree to reopen the Lausanne Treaty if Turkey first accepts and re-signs the Treaty of Sèvres (I would bet the Greeks would jump at the opportunity to sign, which they refused to do at the time, since they would do much better territorially). Then, it would only make sense to rework Lausanne. How about it, Mr. Erdoğan? Let’s trade treaties.

Luckily, Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, who is also one of Greece’s foremost law experts, shut down his visiting counterpart’s absurd proposal, saying: “This treaty, to us, is not negotiable, this treaty does not have any gaps, does not need a review nor an update. This treaty is valid as it is.”

Clearly, despite the view of analysts that Erdoğan and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras share a warm relationship, there is no spillover of “warmth” into the overall relationship between the two countries. Nor, rightly, should there be, for so long as Turkey continues to violate Greek air and sea space, oppress the few thousand Greeks remaining in Turkey, continues its occupation of Cyprus, and remains generally a bad neighbor and destabilizing force in the region.

Perhaps we Armenians must take it upon ourselves to remind Greece that making nice with Turkey under these circumstances will only lead to more losses. Should we start a campaign to write letters to Greek ambassadors worldwide? Maybe we start by taking them to a bar…


Garen Yegparian

Asbarez Columnist
Garen Yegparian is a fat, bald guy who has too much to say and do for his own good. So, you know he loves mouthing off weekly about anything he damn well pleases to write about that he can remotely tie in to things Armenian. He's got a checkered past: principal of an Armenian school, project manager on a housing development, ANC-WR Executive Director, AYF Field worker (again on the left coast), Operations Director for a telecom startup, and a City of LA employee most recently (in three different departments so far). Plus, he's got delusions of breaking into electoral politics, meanwhile participating in other aspects of it and making sure to stay in trouble. His is a weekly column that appears originally in Asbarez, but has been republished to the Armenian Weekly for many years.

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  1. What are you talking about? Why do you say Erdogan “was put in his place”? The reverse of that is true…. I was not impressed with the Greek president. If I were in his place, merely two seconds into Erdogan’s verbal diarrhea, I would have asked him when Turkey is leaving Cyprus, and that we need to explore options to bring to light reparations and restitution for the Pontic Greek Genocide. And that would be besides the Armenian and Assyrian ones. And then gave him a box of Greek Delight and bid him farewell.

  2. I am sure that Tsipras loathes erdung as much as anybody else. But Greece’s so-called brethren in Europe, led by Germany, have pushed Greece into a corner, refusing to forgive or restructure a debt that Greece can never pay off as it now stands. And Tsipras may have been looking pacify or placate the wild maniac enemy to his east while fending off the northern European beasts. Greece’s experience with its partners and brethren in the EU and the Eurozone [that uses the euro currency] ought to be a lesson for Armenia. If you get too close to the EU they might treat you like they treat Greece. Many people in Israel already consider the EU an enemy.

  3. ” Perhaps we Armenians must take it upon ourselves to remind Greece that making nice with Turkey under these circumstances will only lead to more losses. Should we start a campaign to write letters to Greek ambassadors worldwide? Maybe we start by taking them to a bar…”

    The Greek people know, but I think that we (the Greek people) are governed by “idiotic people”. First Tsipras was heavily criticised for inviting Erdgan in Greece. Despite that I am not sure if he got the message.

    I am glad that you as Armenians pointed out the reality. Turks went to sink a boat in Greek waters near the Greek island IMIA (of course the Greek captains are way more experienced than the Turkish ones and we did not have dead people) and our government just observes from a distance. The Turks (ministry of foreign affairs) called the island Turkish, and the Greek reply is that the Turks do not know geography. In any case I think that now the government knows and the minister of defense said that if we need to fight we will fight. I feel myself that the Greek society although tired from the economic crisis, it is unpredictable and might rise in the need to defend itself.

  4. The stain of Armenian ,Greek and Syrian blood spilled by the acts of genocide of the Turks has not not been washed away in the collective memory of the innocent victims. Erdogan is rattling a visions of Turkeys aggressive military forces.His targets are easy lightly armed Kurds in Afrin against a full attacking force of airforce ,heavy artilery and tanks with paid mecenaries. He will endeavor to scare Greece and Cyprus to take the hydrocarbons in the Aegean and the seas around Greek Cyprus. If he has a go at Greece he will start the beginning of the end for the Turkish nation that will be divided into pieces with a Kurdish homeland .

  5. For sure Turkey will put claim to as many Greek islands as it can in the event of an invasion.
    The Turks have always been a violent and warmongering culture. It is hard-coded into their very DNA. And the crimes against humanity by the Turks are legion. The Armenian Holocaust (yes, Holocaust!!) in 1915 is a glaring example of their inherent brutality against other human beings that they constantly deny.
    Erdagon is just expressing to the world what the Turk truly is…..barbaric, arrogant, and intellectually limited. He has no concept of a world community, for he feels justified in his thinking that all those around him are enemies to invade and plunder, and diplomacy is not ifirmly embedded in the Turkish brain.
    I hope the Turks ratchet up their threats of war, for when they do militarily attack another NATO country they will be put in their place in very short order by the very international community the Turk obviously despises.

  6. Dear friend I agree with you and I am Greek. However Erdogan underestimates the Greek people, as he thinks that we are like our politicians. Turkey this week in the national security council has agreed to invade Greece. Be sure that we are ready to efficiently defend our country.

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