Greece’s new anti-Turkey campaign to remain futile
It was interesting to observe Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias’ trips to Iraq and Armenia last week. His statements at press conferences both in Baghdad and Yerevan have given the impression that Athens has now started to develop an interest in knowing what is going on in the wider region, in the Middle East and the Caucasus.
For example, he became the first Greek foreign minister visiting Iraq in 22 years, as he noted during the joint press conference with his host, Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein. That’s a blatant confession by a senior official that Greece, a member of the EU and NATO, was totally indifferent and careless to the developments in Iraq during the hardest years of the Middle Eastern country.
Thanks to an ongoing conflict with Turkey, Greece remembers Iraq’s problems with promises to enhance bilateral relationship, as the minister vowed, “There are plenty of Greek companies, for example, that are willing to invest and trade in Iraq. Great potential for cooperation in areas such as construction, energy, renewables, pharmaceuticals and even more.”
It would also be good for Iraqi authorities to hear whether Athens will contribute to the reconstruction efforts of the war-torn country by pledging a few billion dollars.
Greece had suddenly shown interest in the developments in Libya as well after Turkey and the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) signed two memoranda of understandings in late 2019. Senior Greek officials hosted General Khalifa Haftar in Athens just because he was fighting the Turkey-backed GNA. For Greek officials, the fact that Haftar was the real responsible for the growing instability in Libya because of his offensive against Tripoli in April 2019 was not important at all.
Dendias’ visit to Armenia was also astonishing. Although he raised many issues at the press conference, he has skipped two main things: He never cited the international law that obliges the withdrawal of Armenian troops from occupied Azerbaijani territories – although he does it almost every day in the context of the Mediterranean. Second, he never urged Armenia against attacking Azerbaijani civilian settlements.
There has been no Greek official condemnation or even regret to the latest Armenian attack against Ganja over the weekend that killed at least 13 civilians.
This new foreign policy campaign by Greece aiming at creating new regional alliances against Turkey is doomed to fail. For two things: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” approach is not sustainable and far from creating a realistic perspective for other international actors. It will only depict Greece as incompetent in producing effective and viable policies. Plus, isn’t confessing that the minister’s visit to a country like Iraq for the first time after 22 years just because of an ongoing crisis with Turkey disrespectful to the Iraqi authorities?
Second, the dynamics of Turkey-Iraq relations are much deeper than the Greek diplomacy believes. Dendias’ effort to benefit from the differences between Ankara and Baghdad is futile because these exist for decades because of the PKK’s use of Iraqi territories to attack Turkey and the Turkish people.
On the other hand, it is Turkey that pledged $5 billion credit to Iraq’s reconstruction in the 2018 donors’ conference, continues to help Iraqi security forces’ training, is establishing full order in the country through NATO missions and constitutes Iraq’s top trade partner. The Turkish-Iraqi relationship is complex and Greek intervention will have no impact on its course.