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Greece and Turkey: a major peace initiative

by Upstate NY Tue Oct 26th, 2010 at 04:46:27 AM EST

The news references anonymous sources and it's such a short article, but if true this is a huge monumental breakthrough in Greek and Turkish relations, and it promises to bring a seismic shift to all of Europe.

Ekathimerini: Aegean pact in the works

The article is so short that I'll just paraphrase: Greece and Turkey agreed in principle to compromise on the International Law of the Sea. Rather than Greece taking what is allowed to Greece by International Law, a proper sea buffer, Greece has reduced its buffer around the islands by half, while Turkey will respect a full buffer off the Greek mainland.

Why is this important?

front-paged by afew

Two reasons. For one, Turkey has/had an official casus belli against Greece for Greece seeking to claim its full international border rights. This is a hangover of the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire that has been plaguing relations for the last century. This is not bad blood from the past. The two countries were headed to war in 1998 before NATO intervened over the rights to an island in the Aegean. As the Empire was falling apart, Turkey was forced to cede islands to a European alliance. Those islands, primarily under Italy's control, were later ceded to Greece after WW2. These were islands that were predominately populated by Greeks (95%) during the last century and historically. But Turkey only grudgingly ceded that territory and has never made it easy. This has been THE major problem between the two countries, and they have had constant dogfights, with hundred million dollar planes plunging into the sea, pilots dying, etc. It's constant and nasty.

Another reason this may become important is for the delimitation of the continental shelf for future oil and gas exploration. Personally, I can never see this happening given tourism and the environmental movements in Greece. But it's there.

The impact on Europe will be considerable. Greece has demanded that Turkey engage the issue at the International Court level, as a process of law. Turkey has refused, and this has hurt them. They are seen as unwilling to engage in European legal processes. Turkey isn't even a signatory of the law of the Sea, and though Turkey begrudges Greece its full buffer, Turkey takes advantage of that full buffer for itself.

The impact on NATO will be notable, as Greek and Turkish defense systems are arrayed on precisely this issue. If an agreement creates a rethinking of that defense strategy, this may also impact European Defense Forces integration with NATO, which Turkey has been preventing.

Finally, the two countries may peel back from the ungodly amounts they spend on military weaponry.

It's big news.

 for the european arms industry!

Just watch it fall apart (he said cynically).

It's a great day indeed, if it doesn't!

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Oct 25th, 2010 at 12:40:02 PM EST
I have to wonder whether the reason that this is happening now is because its an austerity measure.

Greece spent $13.9 billion on defense in 2009. The deficit is around $36.5 billion.

Making peace with the Turks is quick way to allow the Greeks to cut military spending, and pour that money into the budget deficit hole. Greek military spending is by far the highest in the EU. In 2008, Greek spending was 3.6% of GDP.  The highest in the EU.  The second highest was the UK at 2.5% of GDP.  By way of comparison, Spain spent 1.2% of GDP in the same period.  Cutting Greek spending to Spanish levels would return around $9 billion in funds to be spent.

Well, maybe austerity has had one benefit.  

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Mon Oct 25th, 2010 at 01:08:04 PM EST
I don't think this is it. After all, part of austerity was INCREASING their arms buys from both France and Germany. That helped them secure support. Rather, the factor here is leadership, a worldly Greek premier and a Turkish premier that has repeatedly scored victories against the military and legal system.
by Upstate NY on Mon Oct 25th, 2010 at 11:17:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll believe it when they talk about signing something. But I agree on the leadership.

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Oct 26th, 2010 at 04:31:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Seriously good news.

Here's to hoping!

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Oct 25th, 2010 at 02:03:32 PM EST
How reliable is this source? A commentary in Kathimerini (on the same day...) says:
The Turkish prime minister has repeatedly made conciliatory statements regarding the thorns of Turkish overflights in the Aegean and the threat of war, should Greece exercise its right (in accordance with the Law of the Sea) to double its territorial waters to 12 miles. But he has qualified this in a way that Ankara gets precisely what it wants out of Athens in return. This is not a compromise, it is the dictation of terms.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Oct 26th, 2010 at 03:05:33 AM EST
Well, as initial position "we want to talk, and are interested in a solution, but of course we will be negotiating to get what we want" sounds reasonable. No point in giving up positions before the negotiations starts, which is also why demanding stuff before negotiations can start is such an obvious way not to get negotiations started.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Tue Oct 26th, 2010 at 06:33:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course. But I thought that Erdogan had been trying to negotiate with everybody in sight, including Greece, for a while now, so I was wondering whether there was really anything new.

With your attitude you'd never get a job negotiating for the U.S. or Israel...

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Oct 27th, 2010 at 02:17:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But if Greece is willing to concede on the 12 mile zone around its islands in return for peace and Turkey's recognition of the 12 mile zone for mainland Greece ... that seems like it would be something new.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Oct 28th, 2010 at 08:05:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
See Salon entry here.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Oct 30th, 2010 at 05:24:24 PM EST

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