Opinion: The Merkel trap, Erdogan the cat, Mitsotakis the mouse

Opinion: The Merkel trap, Erdogan the cat, Mitsotakis the mouse

Discussing with a high-ranking Turkish government official and commenting on the moves of the Turkish side and the reactions of the Greek side, he stated bluntly that Erdogan is playing the cat-and-mouse game with Mitsotakis. But beware, he does not want to eat him, but to trap him.

The Erdogan-Mitsotakis meetings, primarily in New York and secondarily in London, proved disastrous for the later Greek-Turkish relations, with the responsibility mainly weighting the Greek mission, which went almost unprepared not so much in the agenda of the talks but in the way they “read” Erdogan.

It is no coincidence that after the meeting of the leaders of Greece and Turkey in September in New York, the two Turko-Libyan memoranda were signed, while after the meeting in London there was an attempt of refugees and immigrants to enter Greece from Evros, and finally after the telephone communication between Erdogan and Mitsotakis, the presidential decree was signed to change the character of Hagia Sophia from a museum to a mosque.

The result shows that the Greek Prime Minister and his associates did not “understand” the Turkish President, as they were consumed in establishing relations with countries “enemies” of Turkey, instead of having constant communication with the Turkish side in order to “calm down” and extinguish the sparks of intensity before they transform into an uncontrollable fire.

In the effort of the Greek government to make “friends” the “enemies” of its “enemy”, it reduced the contacts and relations that had been established in the previous period both in the region of the Balkans and in the South of Europe.

The superficial relations with the Balkans by the Government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the depreciation of the 7-part cooperation of the Mediterranean countries of the EU (Med7), have already brought negative results for Greece.

At the last EU Foreign Affairs Council, among the countries that reacted to the imposition of sanctions on Turkey were Bulgaria, Romania, Italy, Malta and Spain. If nothing else it is a diplomatic defeat for Greece, not to be able to convince its partners of its “right”.

In this context, of an unfortunately isolated Greece in relation to Turkey, even within the EU, came the German Presidency from July 1, to make things even more difficult.

Germany, as well as the EU leadership, consider Turkey an important partner. This has become clear at all levels, from all sides, so the Greek government should not rest on the repeated identical statements condemning Turkey verbally. Josep Borrell was clear; the EU wants a de-escalation of tension in the Eastern Mediterranean and a bilateral dialogue between Greece and Turkey.

On the occasion of its six-month EU Presidency, Germany wants to end with the thorn of the Greek-Turkish dispute. This was clear from the participation of the German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in the meeting of Borrell, Dendias, Christodoulides in Brussels, but also from the “unexpected” meeting in Berlin of the Director of the Diplomatic Office of the Greek Prime Minister, Eleni Sourani with Merkel’s advisor on Foreign policy Jans Hecker and Erdogan’s close adviser, Ibrahim Kalin.

Germany’s insistence to participate foreshadows the future of Greek-Turkish relations.

The announcement by the German Chancellery for the creation of a European axis of Berlin, Rome, Paris, Madrid and Lisbon, leaves Greece and Cyprus out of the picture, increasing the isolation of Greece within the EU.

Greece’s one-dimensional policy for economy and investments is a bargaining weakness. Everyone, especially Germany, knows its Achilles heel it is and on this weakness that it is expected to base its policy on Greek-Turkish, trapping Greece, which will need financial support for the great recession that is coming due to coronavirus.

Prior to the Prespa Agreement, Greece was the grumpy country of the EU. With the achievement of the Agreement, Greece was upgraded in Europe, while the correct use of the veto strengthened its position in the European institutions and received unprecedented respect.

The return of Greece as the “grumpy” and predictable country of Europe, could prove to be nothing but positive for its aspirations.

The cat-and-mouse game will continue until it falls into the trap./ibna