Realpolitik dominates Turkish–Greek relations
Christos LoutradisIt was visit based around nostalgia. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s visit to Athens last weekend had all the possibility in the world of becoming a failure. Increased tension between the two nations over the control of energy resources in the region, along with the mutual growth of nationalism on both sides of Aegean, could have potentially made Davutoğlu’s meeting with his Greek counterpart Antonis Samaras a high-risk visit, with a chance to make headlines for all the wrong reasons.
However, while it seems the problems and disputes between the two countries were discussed, they didn’t monopolize the debate between the two prime ministers. The dominance of “Realpolitik” discussions was the main objective during the Turkish prime minister’s two-day visit to Athens.
In the presence of business elite from both counties, the realization that only through economic cooperation can the two nations stand in the face of an unstable and changing global environment and financial collapse was the leading conclusion from the talks. For various historical and cultural reasons, Turkey and Greece have to learn to cooperate and coexist in modern society.
The re-evaluation of the 50 accords that have been signed between ministers of Greece and Turkey is a signal that the two governments want to play down their differences, especially on the Cyprus issue, and focus on the cultivation of economic ties, particularly in the areas of tourism, transportation and health. Davutoğlu acknowledged that, in terms of transportation, Greece is the gateway to Europe in the region and Turkey is likewise the gateway to Asia. This acknowledgement could be a leading strategy point for the construction of a new, long-standing cooperation between Athens and Ankara.
However, Davutoğlu’s visit to Athens will be only a two-day memory if both nations, and especially their governments, do not isolate nationalistic voices within that, while not the leading cause of discourse between Turkey and Greece, create a strong barrier against the transformation of relations between the two countries in respect to international laws and treaties.