The Management of the Greek-Turkish Crisis should be prioritized over other Secondary Issues (Article published on 23 Oct 2020)
The dominating issue in all media lately, both printed and electronic, is the ever-increasing provocation of Turkey against Greece, in spite of the admonitions of the USA and the EU to de-escalate the tension it deliberately creates on purpose, in order to force us to sit at a negotiating table with it, with its own agenda and not only to delimit the Aegean continental shelf as we wish. And this is due to the stance of the EU and the US which proposed the two Nations to start bilateral consultations on the basis of international law, which is not in its favour, even though it constantly invokes it.
And while everyone is wondering, from ordinary people to numerous Generals, Admirals and Air Marshals who have honoured the Armed Forces of the Country with their services for more than 40 consecutive years, having faced heaps of emergencies and knowing very well how to make difficult decisions, University Professors, Honorary Ambassadors, MPs and reputable geopolitical analysts, why Greece does not proceed with the unilateral action of extending its territorial waters to 12 miles (which is certainly a complex problem equal to a Gordian Knot) as provided by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) that we have signed, quoting irrefutable evidence why this is now imperative, we are surprised to see the following paradoxes to happen:
- The Official Opposition, making another 180-degree turn, is calling for the expansion of our territorial waters to certain parts of the Eastern Mediterranean to 12 nautical miles, while it previously argued that our maritime borders could not be secured and did not take any initiative during its 4-year rule, like it is now proposing. (Paradox No.1, however, it is never too late to see things more clearly).
- The Greek government however, instead of seizing this opportunity and deciding that this major issue should be formally discussed in detail in the Greek Parliament, or in another Institution such as the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee of the Greek Parliament, or even in a meeting of the Political Leaders under the President of the Republic, due to the particular nature of the issue, listening to the opinion not only of the Political Parties but also of the presumptive experts who have already submitted heaps of proposals and documentation on this issue, not only leaves the opportunity to be wasted but explains via Mr.Gerapetritis & Mrs.Bakoyannis that:
- Our territorial waters are at 6 nautical miles and that
- It is at our discretion when we will decide to extend them at 12 nautical miles which is our inalienable right and which can be exercised unilaterally.
- But what isn't explained to us is the reasons why we should not proceed to such a move especially at this time, despite the fact that we have mobilized our fleet to monitor the ORUC REIS and its accompanying warships, to thresh for the second time between Rhodes and Kastelorizo. At the same time, the Government rightly argues that this major national issue should not be discussed in the media, but without deciding that this issue, in conjunction with the whole grid of the current Greek-Turkish crisis, should be discussed at the appropriate level at its discretion on the occasion on the major opposition's proposal. Finally, the Government engages in a diplomatic marathon by sending letters of protest to the UN Secretary-General, the EU over the arms embargo on Turkey, the US, German, Spanish and Italian governments, analysing Ankara's insolvency from continuing its challenges, to mobilize the international actors for the suspension of the Trouble Maker in the region, whose grace has recently reached as far as Nagorno-Karabakh, however without showing the same eagerness with the necessitated imminent decisions to upgrade our defence inventory, with the exception of the purchase order for the Rafale fighter planes) if judged by the fact that it rejected the Strategic Agreement with France with a Military Assistance clause. (Paradox No.2. What might be hidden behind this deliberate refusal of the Government to shed enough light on the appropriate level, on how we should finally be equipped and by whom and why should we not exercise the right to extend our territorial waters now in order to stop the arguments on the contrary?)
- The Official Opposition as it non-ought to, instead of insisting on the issue of the 12 nautical miles, or even on the issue of Covid-19 which is already galloping in our country and it is another major issue of survival of the Greek Society with the minimum possible losses, as it is daily increasing with unpredictable rhythms, suddenly changes the agenda of the political controversy from these major issues to the issue of the Bankruptcy Code, even by filing a motion of censure against the Ministry of Finance. Knowing very well that it is going to succeed nothing, it makes this tactical move in order to divert public opinion from its recent introversion and negative opinion polls, to a social issue. And of course, here the Government lifts the gauntlet and so until Sunday night (25 October 2020) they will be arguing in the Parliament for a trifle, instead of trying to find the golden mean in due course with the exponential increase of Turkish provocation. Some sceptical individual would even say that the Government and the Major Opposition are agreed to divert public opinion from what we will do with Turkey. (Paradox No.3. Ignorance of danger due to a flawed education of the Nation's MPs would be argued by the author based on the saying of Thucydides " When our houses are set on fire, we are singing " by which he showed the inability of the State to understand the real dangers for itself).
- On 23.10.2020 the Nationwide TV station SKAI, which no one can deny that it does not support the Government positions, presented a Pan-Hellenic poll, showing that the interest of the Greek Society is primarily the Greek-Turkish issue, followed by the problem of Covid-19 and the preparation for the condemnation of Golden Dawn Nazi Party. Therefore, every citizen of this country would logically expect the Greek Parliament to deal intensively with this issue that is deeply troubling the Greek Society and not with an alien, like the issue of the Bankruptcy Code. (Paradox No.4).
All the above paradoxes clearly show a difference of views and priorities between the demands of the Greek Society and the Orders of the Nation, which should not be continued, because we must first deal with the urgent issues of survival and security of our Homeland and then with the other minor issues, as imposed by the MASLOW scale, that wants us to always put the right priorities in our movements, so that we deal in order of importance first with Survival, then with Security, third with Social Needs, fourth with ensuring respect from others and finally with our Passion (Self-realization).
While Turkey, not having any footholds in international law, is artificially trying to obtain them, by voting in its National Delegation a series of irrational demands in order to give them legitimacy and proceeds to the preparation of illegal Memoranda such as the Turkish-Libyan issue, giving it a protocol in the UN, while we seem to have serious argumentation (Newspaper Dimokratia and websites militaire.gr & infognomon.gr 22.10.2020 "The pomfolix of the closed Greek lake of the Aegean" by Professor of Geopolitics of National & Kapodistrian University Mr. I. Mazis), we are unable to strengthen our positions further, avoiding to raise the issue to the level required and with a supra-party mood, in order to update them based on all modern data, to see in depth the pluses and minuses of every possible solution and to finally know what is happening to us, that is in other words, what we have, what we claim, in what ways and why. The phobic syndromes and selfishness of all Governments wanting to solve this Gordian Knot on their own, referring it to a more appropriate timeframe and to a “DEUS EX MACHINA”, are pathogens from which we must get rid of very soon, if we want to survive long-term as a Nation.
It is not possible for Turkey to create impressions of “FAIT ACCOMPLI” every day with its illegal actions, greying more and more areas of the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean with continuous NAVTEXs and us not to react dynamically, because soon no one will take us seriously. We must stop being the "useful little ones" who are content with every friendly pat on the back and promises without real reward. Where are the automated Sanctions against Turkey that we hoped to get from the EU and its solidarity, when the sovereign rights of 2 of its Member States are being brutally and blatantly violated? And why, while we have been patient in order to start exploratory contacts with Turkey, instead of starting them, we have new and more intense challenges without any practical reaction from our Allies?
While we have complied with all the suggestions of the US, Germany & the EU, in contrast to the other side which promises to start exploratory contacts and does other things, the Allies refer us from one summit to the other and ostentatiously avoid taking a position on our fair demands by dealing primarily with their own strategic and economic priorities, which are obviously not in our interest. So, it is time to take our destiny into our own hands and decide that our National Independence is not won without sacrifices. First come the sacrifices, as they were made in 1821, 1912 and 1940 and then comes the recognition by the Great Powers of each era and we must not forget this, firstly because the 200th anniversary of the Greek Revolution against the Ottoman yoke is approaching, and secondly because we are facing a new 1940 that seems to come from the neo-Ottoman dreams of Turkey, where National Unity is necessary to stimulate the mind of the Greek people with deeds of valour and prudence (how we'll deal with the Greek-Turkish issue) and not with issues of minor importance (Bankruptcy Code).
And like during the first wave of Covid-19 we consulted the experts and we did just fine, it would be good to consult the experts again and at the right level, who have both experience and strong recruitment performances from their over forty-year successful tenures in the Diplomatic Corps for the correct Timing of each of our decisions and in the Armed Forces for the optimal way of using our Military power, to deal with emergencies such as this one, because we are running out of time!
Major General (Ret.) Dimitrios M. Petridis (22nd Engineering Class of Hellenic Air Force Academy, 1974 graduate)
-Mechanical Engineer, University of Patras (1981 graduate)
-Aeronautical Engineer, US NAVAL Postgraduate School (1986 graduate)
-Representative of Greece to the Board of Directors of NAMSA (current NSPA 2001-2004)
-Aviation Support Programme Manager, NATO Support & Procurement Agency (NSPA 2009-2017)
-Member: of the Hellenic Aviation Academy (AAKE), of the Scientific Association of Aviation Engineers (ESMA), of the Alumni Association of the Hellenic Air Force Academy (SASI), of the Hellenic Institute for Strategic Studies (ELISME), of the Hellenic Armed Forces’ Ark of Holistic Education (KIVOTOS).
-Member of the Board of Directors: Panhellenic Federation of Armed Forces (POS)