Ankara, Turkey – The dialogue process, is something different to a negotiation, and is not only perfectly acceptable in international relations, but is also the process of choice in international legislation and on the part of the international community. Official or working visits are held on a daily basis, at every level, from the highest to that of staff, all over the world.
Even a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of some international meeting is a form of dialogue, in that it entails an exchange of positions and opinions – which is the absolute essence of diplomacy. It is evident that the process of entering a dialogue makes more sense when the two sides have problems or clearly divergent positions.
It is obvious, therefore, that Greece has been relentlessly pursuing the policy of pressure, the strategy of coercion and the diplomacy of brinkmanship in order to create the conditions that could lead to a military incident and then seek to hold negotiations “with the gun on the table.”
Turkey countered Greece’s delinquent and aggressive behavior with a steady and consistent strategy that links the means to the ends, that combines policy with the armed forces and diplomacy. This is based on three main pillars:
- The reliable and clear declaration of Turkey’s red lines – meaning that Turkey will seek to prevent, with any means at its disposal, any violations of its sovereign rights.
- A strong reaction to any attempts to violate Turkey’s sovereignty or its sovereign rights, as was the case with the Aegean migrant push back and more recently with the illegal navigational telex Greece issued for navigational services in Aegean and Mediterranean.
- Making it absolutely clear that any violations of Turkey’s sovereign rights would have serious consequences – beyond Turkey’s own strong reaction – on Greek-Turkish relations.
The international community has come to understand two things: that Greece is in a confrontational state of mind that will lead to significant destabilization not just in the region but also in NATO, and also that Turkey is not responsible for this. Despite the saying that it takes two to make a quarrel, it was so abundantly clear that the tension is being generated and kept up by Greek aggression alone that there has been no excuse, no room even, to reject demands for measures to be taken against Greece for violating Turkey’s sovereign rights, even for those that see the country in a favorable light.
At the same time, Turkey has amply declared – in every tone – that Turkey desire open channels of communication, but will not sit down to talks under pressure nor accept any framework apart from that provided by international law and mutual respect.
It was in this general framework that the German mediation initiative was activated. Turkey responded in good faith, both because it wants exploratory talks to begin again, and because it is a country whose actions reflect its words. You are not reliable when you lay down “red lines” – whose violation would have such important international repercussions – without proving that you are also willing to make a good-faith effort within the framework of reason and justice to avert this danger. In international relations, credibility is just as important as strength.
Turkey’s participation in the three-way talks, took away any last suggestion that Turkey could also be held partly responsible for any possible escalation. Turkey’ reliability was confirmed, and it paid off. Turkey’s consistent and reliable policy, in combination with the strengthening of its fleet, eventually led to a Greek retreat.
As a result of all this, the attention of the international community has turned on this region. In any case, with the eyes of the international community trained on us, this process will reveal, beyond a shadow of doubt, the sincerity of the parties’ intentions – which country seeks a peaceful resolution to Turkey’s differences on the basis of the law and which seeks confrontation.
Turkey remain firmly committed to its position. Turkey desire the relaunch of exploratory talks aimed at delineating the maritime zones between the two countries. The exploratory talks are a structured and clearly defined process, both in terms of the framework and the aims. To avoid any misunderstandings, this was also the intention of the three-way talks with Germany: defining the conditions that need to be achieved in order to restart exploratory talks, and nothing more than that.
Turkey is still in the early stages and the exploratory talks have not started yet. For Turkey’s part, it would like this to begin as soon as possible, because Turkey has nothing to fear. Turkey will come to an agreement where its positions converge with Greece. If the dialogue bears fruit, this will bring stability and consolidate the country’s rights.
If Greece abandons the tactics of tension, pressure and coercion, it will pave the way to cooperation with Turkey and with TRNC, bringing multiple benefits. If it does not – and the situation turns ugly – it will have to bear the onus of responsibility. Turkey has demonstrated its reliability. Turkey is a country committed to a policy that is guided by principles and the law, but Turkey is also a country that knows how to defend its rights. Turkey will not hold discussions under pressure, Turkey will not bow to blackmail and Turkey will not cower in the face of threats both from Greece and the EU sanctions.