Until recently many in Greece dismissed as exaggerated the view that Turkey is a revisionist regional power and that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is imbued with a neo-Ottoman, expansionist vision.
They considered his hostile outbursts in recent months as a fleeting problem motivated primarily domestic objectives and so they believed it was possible to reach an understanding with Erdogan.
However, Erdogan’s contemptuous stance toward international mediation and the agreements reached thereby as well as Turkey’s continuing unilateral hostile actions leave no room to misinterpret his intentions.
It is now crystal clear that Turkey and its leader believe they have an opportunity to play the leading role in the broader region, to upgrade Ankara’s international presence, and to establish itself as a regional superpower, thus reviving at least partly the Ottoman Empire.
This was demonstrated by Ankara’s decision to have the hydrocarbons research vessel Oruc Reis set sail right before planned Greek-Turkish talks that were agreed to by both sides as a result of German and US mediation.
It is obvious that Erdogan has chosen a dangerous path. He believes that current geopolitical conditions and the American withdrawal from the Middle East, combined with European weakness and the shift of economic power toward Asia, permit a revision of and distancing from his country’s old alliances and international commitments.
Erdogan is pursuing his own autonomous role. He is forging new alliances which explain the projection of Turkish power from the Red Sea to the Caucasus and his bid for the lion’s share of the hydrocarbons in the Southeastern Mediterranean.
The Turks believe that they are strong militarily and that through the force of arms they can impose their will.
They promote the idea of vital space which has been condemned by the international community long ago.
To justify his military intervention on so many fronts Erdogan says that he is is guided by the Ottoman past, but he is doing nothing less than reviving the catastrophic, expansionist Nazi theory of lebensraum.
He is violating international conventions and relations in order to achieve his aim of becoming a hegemonic regional power and he flouts the admonitions of those powers which he believes have the power and will to impede his plans.
Erdogan treats Greece as a bulwark of the West and wants to neutralise it and make it a satellite state that is dependent and largely checked.
To put it simply, he is pursuing the Finlandization of Greece as Ankara’s planning and all of its actions demonstrate.
This situation mandates a sweeping review of Greek foreign policy.
Greece and its government to the extent that it understands Ankara’s designs cannot be satisfied with peace efforts and initiatives that are perpetually belied by the other side.
All the facts mandate that Greece must also change its posture and table stronger demands with allies and partners. It must broaden the circle of its interlocutors and, of course, be prepared for any and every eventuality.
This must be done not in a formal manner but in a substantial way, assuming any cost.
With any other approach, the national cost will be incalculable.