by John Galt
February 28, 2012 05:30 ET
The nation of Greece is now officially in default according to Standard and Poor’s (click here to read the story in full). The Troika and German expansionist government has declared that they would support the second bailout to preserve the status quo of confusion, deception, and deliberate subjugation of the Greek people. Unfortunately for the Germans, NATO, the European Union, and United States, a wildcard has been thrown into the fire by non other than the Greek Foreign Minister, Stavros Dimas. In an article from The Athens News on February 16th, the Foreign Minister said the following at a celebration of the 60th anniversary of Greece joining NATO:
“Since the mid-1970s, Greece has been facing a standing threat by one of its [Nato] allies, Turkey.
Nato’s silence since the Turkish invasion of Cyprus has been deafening. The systematic dispute of Greece’s sovereign rights by Turkey is, and is being treated by the Greek people as, a real and direct threat. In that light, Greece’s participation has not managed to respond to this significant threat,” the foreign minister said.
(Click on this link to read the entire story: Dimas: Nato has not responded to Turkey’s threat)
Unfortunately for NATO and the micro managers of the Greek economy in Brussels, there is much more to this story. The economic collapse in Greece has led to an increase in Greek nationals fleeing the mainland and heading to the island seeking employment according do a December 2011 article in the Cyprus News. This increase in the Greek Cypriot population does not set well with Turkey nor is it considered a positive development for resolving the situation during the upcoming peace negotiations. The rotating presidency of Cyprus puts the Greek Cypriots firmly in charge as of July 1st and in the Turkish newspaper Hürriyet Daily News, the Turkish Cypriot President Derviş Eroğlu stated the following yesterday:
“If we cannot reach an agreement before July 1 then there will be no meaning in us continuing negotiations,” Derviş Eroğlu told a group of journalists visiting him in Nicosia on Feb. 25. “The United Nations and the Security Council should come to a conclusion. They have a set target and they failed to realize it. The main reason for the failure has been the approach of Greek Cyprus.”
With Greek Cyprus assuming the term presidency July 1, Turkey has already announced it will not join activities organized by the presidency and will suspend political dialogue for the duration of the term. Equally important is the fact that Greek Cyprus will hold presidential elections in early 2013, and if current leader Demetris Christofias is willing to run for a second term, he will have to make electoral alliances with other political parties.
“His possible allies are very strongly advocating the withdrawal of Turkish troops and are against the rotating presidency. He will have to accept their conditions if he wants to be re-elected in the second round of elections. Which means a complete change of parameters in the process we have started with Christofias,” Eroğlu said.
(Click to read the entire article from the Hürriyet Daily News here)
The nation of Turkey is now extremely suspicious of the large influx of Greek corporations and citizens which has only been inflamed further by the declarations of some Greek politicians to expand energy exploration in the Aegean and around the island nation. The Conservative New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras stated last week that the cash strapped nation of Greece should declare an economic exploitation zone in the Aegean and around Greece to secure firm borders for oil and gas exploration. This move if enacted should Samaras become the new head of the Greek parliament after the elections would inflame the already tense relations between the two countries where disputes are increasing over territorial declarations for resource exploration. Throw in the action by the Greek Cypriot government to issue a new round of oil exploration licenses on twelve blocks off of the southern coast of the island, then the following excepts from this article by Alex Jackson of Menas Associates in his story “New Cyprus Drilling Round Raises Tensions with Turkey,” raises the stakes even further:
Although Turkey has not (at the time of writing) publicly criticised the latest licencing round, it views any hydrocarbon production by the Republic of Cyprus as illegitimate whilst the conflict with the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) continues.
Last year Ankara retaliated to Nicosia’s first licencing round by announcing tit-for-tat plans to cooperate with the TRNC authorities on drilling in waters off Turkish Cyprus. Turkish state energy company TPAO signed an exploration deal with the TRNC which included blocks which were, by any reasonable estimate, in Greek Cypriot waters.
Turkey’s strong criticism of the Cypriot drilling was accompanied by the deployment of warships to the Mediterranean in support of exploration vessels. A Turkish research ship conducted seismic analysis of Block 12, the same block in which Noble discovered its field.
Although Turkish anger on the issue cooled, and in any case reflects the government’s bombastic style as much as genuine hostility, the latest licencing round is likely to cause another spike in tension. This is particularly true whilst relations between Israel and Cyprus – on energy projects along their maritime border and on defence issues – remain strong and whilst Turkey-Israel ties remain so strained.
The wildcard in the discussion however is the ongoing series of discussions on this problem is mentioned in the last part of the sentence above, Israel. As the strain in relations expands between Israel and Turkey, the Israeli government has sought out closer relations with Greece and by default, the Greek government in Cyprus. The story from the Jerusalem Post on February 7, 2012, Israel to ask for military facility in Cyprus (click title to read the article in full), has further antagonized the Turkish government as word has spread throughout Turkish Cyprus and the nation of Turkey that Israel my ask to deploy as many as 5,000 troops to protect the pipelines and energy infrastructure being developed in the Eastern Mediterranean and on the island itself. A commentary from the Hürriyet Daily News on February 24th, “We May Shoot Turkey“, expresses the concerns from the government in Ankara and within the Turkish Cypriot population quite clearly:
For the protection of the “gas plant,” Israel will need to deploy up to 5,000 armed personnel. Thus, the area to be allocated to Israel for the gas plant will be large enough to construct the plant and a town for the Israeli workers to be employed at the plant as well as the around 5,000 armed personnel deployed on the island. If there are only a few settlements with a population of more than 10,000 or so on the island, it might be said that the new Israeli base will indeed be a new high-security base city.
Israelis, as a result of the fashionable “kick me and I will kick you” antagonist play between Turkey’s Islamist government and the rather standoffish nationalist administration in Tel Aviv, appear willing to go to bed even with the devil if that would hurt Turkey. But not all Greek Cypriots would be carried away with aloof romanticism. A participant in the meeting asked the million dollar question: If Turkey is sincere that it would protect its and Turkish Cypriot interests at any cost, and some sort of hostile attack was directed at the gas plant, what would happen?
The answer was reportedly abrupt: We shall then retaliate with bombardment.
But, bombardment of what? Turkey? The answer was even colder: We shall teach the Turks they ought to have limits. The facility will be Israeli territory, we shall not leave any hostility unanswered.
NATO is in no position politically or militarily to deal with a renewal of the decades old conflict between Greece and Turkey and the involvement of Israel should that arise. However the German government as well as the bankers of the European Central Bank desire to see their losses mitigated and erased with an expanding Greek economy and hydrocarbons flowing from Greece would prove far more palatable than a dependency on the Russians. When one considers the Russian defense contracts and pipelines that have been in development with the nation of Turkey over the past five years, the realization that a conflict with Greece, Turkey, and Israel would have far greater implications than the historic regional flare ups and could easily spread into a direct NATO-Russian confrontation where member nations may have to declare war on one of their own members.
This cure to the Greek debt crisis and economic issues would resolve many of the issues the nation faces but at what cost? The Europeans are split over this issue and as usual dependent on a bureaucratic analysis while the nations of Greece and Israel accelerated the development of the natural gas fields already discovered while further exploration continues. In the interim, Turkey is developing closer ties to Russia and Iran and drifting further from the NATO sphere in no small part thanks to the incompetent diplomatic efforts of the Obama administration. The table is being set for a solution to the Greek financial crisis but a large regional conflict will only spawn further complications for world economies as a consequence.