For the first time in 65 years a Turkish president is visiting Greece amid hopes of a breakthrough on the Cyprus issue and other bilateral issues. Preparations for the Turkish President’s visit to Greece lasted seven months according to Euronews. As is well known, Erdogan’s visit was launched when the Greek Foreign Minister, Mr Kotzias gave him an oral invitation to visit the country during their meeting in Ankara at the end of October.
Mr. Erdogan is scheduled to visit Greece, tomorow,on Dec. 7-8 .A lot is at stake for this two-day trip.It is being billed as historic and may represent a chance to break the deadlock on Cyprus, and other bilateral issues for the two NATO members which on occasions in the recent past have come close to conflict. At the same time, a major security operation is being set up in the Greek capital ahead of his planned visit to the country.
Mr. Erdogan has visited Greece before — twice as prime minister in 2004 and 2010 — and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim visited in June, but there has not been a visit by a head of state since Turkey’s third president, Celal Bayar, made a trip in 1952.
Erdogan, since he came to power in 2002, displayed a deceptive mask. He appeared as a “light” Islamist and there was a reason: After the terrorist attack on the twin towers in New York, the West turned angrily against Islam. Erdogan, in the face of the so-called “Islamic democrat”, built the image of a “progressive” leader who sought to make a more “european Turkey” and integrate it into the European Union. Many in Cyprus and Greece, among them, N. Anastasiades, now the president of the Republic of Cyprus, were seeing in Erdogan a face of a “European” and “Democratic” leader, who was ready to solve the Cyprus problem and discuss all issues.
Since then, the masks have fallen and the real face of Erdogan has been revealed: a real dictator, arrogant, a murderer of his own people, adopting expansive and aggressive policy against all Turkey’s neighbors and even corrupted most of the greek media report.
According to sources and ekathimerini.gr, the Turkish president will be coming to Greece with a security detail of 200 officers. From the Greek side, the Hellenic Police (ELAS) will be dispatching 2,800 officers to guard the Turkish president, including special forces and bomb disposal experts. Snipers will also be posted all along Erdogan’s route, while motorists should brace themselves for delays and traffic jams, as his motorcade will be given strict priority.
More than 60 Turkish officers have been in Athens since Monday and another 60 or so in Komotini, where Erdogan plans to meet with representatives of the Muslim minority on Friday. Greece and Turkey remain at odds on a number of issues, from territorial disputes to migrant policies.
“Without a doubt, President Erdogan’s [forthcoming Greece] visit is historic. It comes at an extremely crucial time for the developments in the wider region” https://t.co/Uq2ALIR9x7 pic.twitter.com/a7wKV2RAxP
— Al Jazeera News (@AJENews) December 6, 2017
Everyone seems really stoked about Erdogan’s visit to Greece pic.twitter.com/HaBs0B1UBu
— Patrick Strickland (@P_Strickland_) December 6, 2017
“The expansion of communication channels, the development of a positive agenda between the two countries at a time when, as you can see, there are difficulties, are the issues that can have multiple benefits for both countries. Dialogue and diplomacy always bring results,” says Greece’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Ioannis Amanatidis.
“We hope that Turkey will respond to the Greek government’s position in order to start a meaningful dialogue between the two countries, so that through this dialogue we could see whether there is the necessary infrastructure to re-convene a new conference on Cyprus,” says the Cypriot government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides.
Last July talks to reunify the divided island of Cyprus in Crans Montana in Switzerland collapsed amid acrimony and recriminations.
Turkey also wants eight soldiers who comandeered a helicopter and fled to Greece after the failed 2016 coup handed over. Greece’s highest court has blocked their extradition. Ahead of Mr. Erdogan’s visit, the Greek police arrested nine Turkish citizens suspected of links to the extreme leftist group, the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) in Athens.
Eight men and a woman were detained, news agencies reported. The group has been designated a terrorist group by Turkey but is known to have a presence in Greece.
There is a joke in Turkey about Erdogan's visits abroad and that signals nothing for for Greece. Gaddafi gave a reward to the Turkish leader and Gaddafi's head was killed with stone just after. When Erdogan visited Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto was assassinated . When Erdogan addressed the Lebanese parliamen, the next morning Lebanon was occupied. When he visited Yemen, a civil war broke in Yemen. When the Jordanian prime minister arrived in Ankara he resigned without returning to Jordan. When the Saudi King gave a medal to Erdogan, he died shortly thereafter...
What the Greek side is afraid of this visit: Analysis
1.This visit has turned into a political thriller for Greece. According to reliable information, the Turkish side demanded that Erdogan visit Thrace where lies some Turkish minority. The Greek consensus came under the strict condition that all the moves and statements of the Turkish President will be precisely pre-agreed. Where and how he will speak and of course what he will say. Athens said that if there are some reliable assurances regarding where he speaks and what he says, there would be no problem.
It is remarkable that the Turkish side has an intolerance and by depositing a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, because there are victorious battles of the Greeks against the Turks! The same had happened when he had visited Athens almost 30 years ago. But given that the protocol is specific on official visits, Erdogan will probably lodge a wreath, as Ozal eventually did, and as Greek leaders do when they visit Ankara as well.
Some moves made by Greece and Cyprus are in the right direction. But they are undermined by other parallel mistakes, such as Nicosia’s government insistence on a solution to the Cyprus problem that will lead to a “finlandization” of Cyprus, since it will be obliged to follow Ankara’s policy as an international satellite. Greece also offers help to Erdogan in a very controversial time for him, helping him to get out of his “isolation” without giving any “gift” back to the greek side. Ankara continues the same policy in the Aegean , Cyprus and Thrace issues.
Cyprus, by accepting Turkish-Erdogan’s standards as the basis for a solution of the Cyprus problem it puts directly itself under Turkey’s hegemony.
2.Tayyip Erdogan is not a reliable interlocutor for the West . His ambiguous politics and his unhurried reactions slowly and firmly divert Turkey from its traditional allies and friends. In this climate, the Turkish President seeks to maximize the benefits of his visit in Greece. Tayyip Erdogan visits Athens in order to present his plan for the so called “Eastern Mediterranean” region. Surely Erdogan will try to represent his country as a main regional force and not just a weak US satellite as it was before.
And this will be attempted by taking again probably a pro-Western profile that will help him to build solid alliances that he needs in order to cope with the dangers which remain in his country’s southern and eastern borders (especially the Kurds). And the visit here is a good opportunity, as the Greek government is the second European one to invite him after last year’s coup.
3.Iran, Zarrab and Russia :Probably during Mr Tsipras’ recent visit to the United States, the Americans were pushing for a way to bring Turkey closer or to send them a message through Athens, a fervent US ally (or satellite). The Americans do not want to lose Turkey which they regard as a valuable geopolitical plot in the Middle East. According to reliable information, the question being addressed by the State Department is whether Erdogan’s shift from the US foreign policy stem came from his anger (some say that the US prepared badly the coup back in 2016) or is just a more mature strategic choice.
If they are convinced that his moves for an alliance with Russia and Iran come from his anger, the US boys believe that the gap could be bridged. But if they are convinced that this is a mature strategic choice, then they will adopt another strategic line for Turkey, more agressive one and Erdogan might have to face the consequences at the same time that the Americans have the information that Erdogan’s health is showing signs of deterioration.
At the same time, Erdogan faces now Reza Zarrab’s accusations that he personally ordered that two Turkish banks be allowed to participate in an oil-for-gold scheme that violated United States sanctions on Iran, according to Zarrab’s last week testimony in a federal trial in Manhattan.
Mr. Zarrab testified that in 2012, a senior Turkish official told him that Mr. Erdogan — now Turkey’s president, at the time its prime minister — and a second official, the treasury minister, had given orders for the banks “to start doing this trade.”
And themain opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said he would give President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan until Dec. 5 to reveal who exposed state secrets to Turkish-Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab.
End of November, the leader of Turkey’s main opposition has produced what he claims is evidence of millions of dollars held in offshore bank accounts linked to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
As Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the head of the opposition Republican People’s Party, began addressing parliament regarding the alleged offshore accounts, the state broadcaster cut the transmission.
- Eyes on Cyprus
Exploiting a coup d’etat of a still obscure origin perpetrated by the Athens junta –a regime inspired if not created, but then tolerated and openly assisted, by Washington and NATO–, Turkey invaded Cyprus twice in the summer of 1974 and occupied more than a third of its territory.
Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı’s emergence in April 2015 as leader of the Turkish-Cypriot community generated optimistic expectations among many Greek-Cypriot, convinced that he possessed Social-Democratic moderation and, as an architect, civility and sophistication. Nicos Anastasiades himself started showering him with enthusiastic friendship and even brotherly affection, insisting that the two of them were ‘sharing a common vision’. But while naïve Greek-Cypriots were imagining that such a vision embraced a fair and functional Cyprus settlement, Akıncı seemed to be hiding some cunning under his polite demeanour.
For he soon demonstrated that he was unwilling to resist succumbing to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s diktats. In fact, he progressively became Erdoğan’s mouthpiece, uttering all manner of demands, showing yet again that, for Ankara, a Cyprus ‘settlement’ can only be envisaged as long as it was tailor-made by Turkey for Turkey’s own (and not even the Turkish-Cypriots’) interests. It was, therefore, becoming crystallised that the so-called ‘bi-communal’ negotiations were taking place between a partially occupied state and its occupier and not between two free and autonomous communities.
Today, Cypriot journals report that personal property and family interests in the North Cyprus (occupied by Turkey) have been created by Turkish President Erdogan himself, which combine with the policy steps of further political and economic integration of the North into the Turkish state. Accoding to reliable sources, Erdogan has set up a whole network of business associates in the occupied areas for financial and business activity of both his own companies and his friends.
Only the settlers participate in this network, as, as he has often said, “does not trust the Turkish Cypriots”. Erdogan has co-ordinated his groom, Berat Albairak, who has the burden of designing and awarding works. A similar network of associates, much larger, is available to the family in Turkey as well. 39-year-old Berat Albairaq, who has also been in charge of the Turkish Minister of Energy’s portfolio, has recently made threats to investigate the eastern Mediterranean and extract hydrocarbons in parts of the Cypriot EEZ.
As far as its occupation in the occupied areas, the same information indicates that the projects are made by companies in which the Erdogan family has interests directly or indirectly (non-registered).These projects are related to energy, water, construction (roads, buildings such as hotels, Tybu airport, homes, university, etc.).
- Watch Mr Erdogan’s interview in Greek/Turkish to the Greek channel of Skai (no english subtitles until now 😦 ).