Stavros Lygeros: Answers to the three crucial questions about the exploratory talks between Greece and Turkey
There are three questions regarding the Greek-Turkish exploratory talks that began on Monday. The first is, why now, after five years? The second question has to do with if there is a chance that these talks will achieve an agreement. And the third question is if the talks end up in an impasse, when will this happen, and it will happen, and what will this mean for Greek-Turkish relations?
The answer to the first question is that the talks were initiated now because there is a convergence of interests between the two sides. Greece, in general, because it wants to keep the heat in Greek-Turkish relations low, and Turkey because it faces the upcoming EU summit in March. The advice from its friends within the EU is to lower its tones, head to the table, in order, in this way to forestall sanctions. With exploratory talks in progress, there is no possibility of imposing sanctions.
But there is another more important reason. And that is that the Erdogan regime wants to fathom its relations with the Biden administration. As long as Trump was in the White House, Erdogan felt secure. Now with Biden, he wants to see how US-Turkish relations will shape up so that he can calculate his moves vis-a-vis Greece.
The second question has to do with whether the exploratory talks will lead to an agreement. Given that the title exploratory talks is almost ironic, given that Greece very well knows Turkish positions, and vice versa and these positions are divided by a huge gap, the probability that we will arrive at an agreement is insignificant.
Therefore if we reach an agreement it will be because one of the sides will have qualitatively back down from its positions. We are not talking about a logical compromise, and because Turkey has shown us that it remains steadfast for decades in what it pursues, if there is an agreement, even to refer issues to the Hague, this would signify that Greece has agreed to a solution beyond international justice.
The third question. If, as is most probable, because of disagreement over even the agenda of talks, no agreement is feasible, and we end up in an impasse, will we be led there immediately? Whether it will be immediate, or not, depends on the factor that we already mentioned: on the way US-Turkish relations shape up.
If Erdogan finds channels with the Biden administration, he will not hesitate to lead the talks to the rocks and get back to his well-known paths, like sending the Oruc Reis on seismic surveys, etc. If he does not find channels with the new administration, he will allow the talks to go on, until the horizon clears up.
But if we do reach an impasse, how will Greek – Turkish relations be affected, in substance. I believe, we will return to all that we lived through in the immediate past, and perhaps to an even greater degree. Apart from the Oruc Reis, we may come to see a drilling ship just off Kastellorizo.
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