The non-existent government strategy and Dora Bakoyannis as the heralder

The non-existent government strategy and Dora Bakoyannis as the heralder

Τhe Greek-Turkish relations are bringing up intra-party difficulties for New Democracy, with former Minister of Foreign Affairs Dora Bakoyannis taking on the role of the heralder.

So far, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has yet to provide a comprehensive explanation on what the Government’s strategy is against the climaxing and planned in the long-term, as it appears, escalation of the Turkish provocations. Similarly, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias has not expressed an all-inclusive strategy.

The Government has gone through three different stages thus far. Upon taking over, Kyriakos Mitsotakis downplayed the problem; he did not mention the Greek-Turkish relations neither in his programming statements nor while in TIF; he did not bring up the issue while touring around the foreign capitals; he settled for a meeting of comity and good intentions during his meeting with Erdogan. The second phase was that of being completely ambushed by Ankara’s choice to sign the EEZ Agreement with Libya. The surprise was also reflected in the second meeting the Prime Minister had with Erdogan, after which he spoke of “good intentions being found on both sides”, which, as long as it is not a case of tongue slip or indolence, constitutes a recognition of the Turkish arguments. The third and current phase is that of the communication policies targeting the audience within the country, and especially the right-wing partisans who appear rather sensitive when it comes to national affairs.

Up until now, the former Prime Minister was the first one to warn Kyriakos Mitsotakis approximately one and a half month ago about the escalation of the challenges ahead and the pressure the country would receive from its partners to make amends with Turkey. Antonis Samaras’ more cynical stance came next, who had stated during the 13th New Democracy Congress that resorting to allies and invoking international law was not enough.

At present, however, it is only Dora Bakoyannis who has outlined a comprehensive new strategy against Turkey. The outline begins by admitting that the doctrine of Turkey’s European perspective is dead. Miss Bakoyannis then speaks of a special relationship between Turkey and the EU, which should include the protection of Greece’s sovereign rights. The argument is frail and largely non-existent. If Europe decides on a special approach, this will happen in terms of European bureaucracy and will take time. Miss Bakoyannis then speaks of an appeal to The Hague. Of course, this is also debatable, as an arbitration agreement is needed. In the event that Turkey signs it – Miss Bakoyannis says it will not be given much room to reject it – then it will not include the “only difference the country traditionally recognizes”, namely the Continental Shelf demarcation, but the whole of Turkey’s objections, for which already from Helsinki, Greece has recognized “vital interests” in the Aegean. The Hague will also take into account the customary law prevailing in the region and the wider framework of the power dynamics between the two countries. It will undoubtedly result in the abolition of Greece’s sovereign rights. And, of course, such a strategy cannot be launched while Greece is under pressure and while Turkey has literally shattered Cyprus’ sovereign rights.

If Miss Bakoyannis proves to be the heralder and Mr. Mitsotakis moves in that direction, that is when intra-party problems for the Prime Minister begin. Such a strategy would be endorsed by SYRIZA – Mr. Tsipras has repeatedly stated that he had begun exploratory talks for a future appeal to The Hague – and possibly by KINAL, at least partly.

With Mr. Simitis hinting that the blame for the country’s possible disadvantaged start and thus future recession should fall on Karamanlis, and Antonis Samaras having previously stated that “you choose co-management for something that belongs to everyone but not for something that is yours”, it appears certain that Mr. Mitsotakis will see troubles arising from within his party. This is the same part of the right-wing supporters who feel frustrated, if not cheated, by the Government’s stance on the migration issue but also regarding the Macedonian dispute. Furthermore, this is the group which has begun talking about a gap on the right wing of the political spectrum, since the neoliberal shift of Kyriakos Mitsotakis becomes evident in the national affairs as well. A defeat on the front of the Greek-Turkish relations is likely to lead to political developments as well. /ibna