It radiates the world political scene as it is shaped by the ongoing pandemic, the change of baton in the US and its impact, especially in the eastern Mediterranean region. Professor of International Relations and Security Studies at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (NTUA) and Senior Researcher at ELIAMEP – Head of the Security Program, Panagiotis Tsakonas, points out that the trampling
He believes that Biden's election marks the return of American foreign policy to multilateralism and the strengthening and promotion of the role of international organizations. He also noted that the new US President will try to restore the transatlantic relationship, both with NATO allies and with the European Union and in particular European countries, which President Trump did not hesitate to call “opponents” of the US. It also refers to US-Turkish relations, which with the election of Biden, will be transferred from the staff to the institutional field, with the new US administration setting clear boundaries and “red lines” for Erdogan, but this does not mean that they should create excessive expectations for Greece and Cyprus.
– Change of baton in the USA. What does Biden's takeover mean and what is expected to change in US domestic and foreign policy?
Biden's election marks – and above all we expect to launch – the return of US foreign policy to multilateralism and the strengthening and promotion of the role of international organizations in relation to a range of economic (return to the World Trade Organization) and environmental issues (participation in the Treaty). climate change) and global security (future US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has confirmed that the Biden administration is ready to return to the agreement on Iran's nuclear program, provided Tehran resumes its commitments). At the same time, the new American President will try to restore the transatlantic relationship, both towards the allies in NATO and towards the European Union and in particular European states, which President Trump did not hesitate to call “opponents” of the USA. In other words, the expected choices of the new US administration will be to involve the US in a world with more rules and more predictability. At home, the big bet is on more effectively managing the transition experienced by a deeply divided country and abroad on restoring the credibility of a superpower that is already retreating on the world stage.
Four points in the relationship between Washington and Nicosia Tsavousoglou: Late February or early March the Pentamer
Do you think that the irregular transition of power in the USA and the episodes we watched starring Trump supporters will have an impact on American society?
– Undoubtedly. What matters is the depth and breadth of the consequences. Trump has opened wounds on the body of both the Republican Party and American society, initially managing to crush both the party and society and especially after the election to intensify division and polarization. These wounds are called to be healed by the new “transitional” President. It is positive that this project is undertaken by an experienced executive of the American establishment who has learned to go into politics, achieving difficult convergences. But his job is extremely difficult, especially in terms of which point of view he will dominate in the Republican Party and consequently how willing he will be to agree on the necessary convergences.
– In your opinion, how does this change of power in the USA affect the region of the eastern Mediterranean and especially the crisis in the Greek-Turkish and the Cypriot areas?
– It is reasonable to expect a government that declares that it will move in the direction of building a world with more rules and greater predictability, that it will try to restrict the movements of the state that chooses to act as a riot by trying to impose its will illegally and provocative and mainly through the use or threat of use of force. In Turkey in particular, we expect the Biden election to force Erdogan to move from the – undoubtedly privileged – field of “personal relations” with the outgoing President to the clearly more difficult field of an “institutional relationship” with the new president, the content of which will be largely defined by the US bureaucracy. In fact, Mr. Biden's non-differentiation from the positions and proposals of the bureaucracy is expected to homogenize the US attitude towards Turkey, thus canceling the – extremely beneficial for Erdogan – “dualism” of US foreign policy towards Turkey.
That is why we are likely to see the new US administration more clearly define the framework of its relations with Turkey by setting “red lines”, the violation of which will have consequences which during Biden's presidency will neither be delayed nor postponed. . Undoubtedly, the election of Biden and the possible launch of US foreign policy in the directions mentioned create a framework for restricting Turkey's movements. However, it would be wrong to lead to excessive expectations on the part of Greece and Cyprus, for a catalytic intervention of the new American President.
– Do you think that the crisis in the US-Turkey relations on the occasion of the S-400 will continue or will ways of restoration and normalization be sought?
Ways are already being sought to restore Turkey's strained relations with the West in general. Given Turkey's geopolitical importance to both the United States and NATO, the S-400 affair will be part of a “transactional logic” that Turkey will continue to follow in whatever new relationship the new US administration builds with it. . Ways will therefore be sought to restore their relationship with the S-400 still a strong bargaining chip for Turkey.
– US-Russia relations. Do you think that with Biden they are entering a new era?
– US relations with Russia are undoubtedly very high on the agenda of the new US administration. The management of Russia will follow the restoration of the transatlantic relationship that will be attempted by the new president, by following more closely the NATO approach to dealing with Russia through the “deterrence and dialogue” scheme. Let us keep in mind, however, that the Russia-Turkey relationship will be given special consideration by the new US administration, setting limits on any decisions it makes to control or punish Turkey for its “non-allied” behavior, as well as US aspirations for The restoration of the transatlantic relationship, the confrontation with Russia and the stabilization of the eastern Mediterranean are not served by the complete rupture of its relations with Turkey.
Turkey wants to “buy” time
– Greek-Turkish dialogue. Can it exist under the current circumstances and produce a substantial result? How does the Cyprus issue and the developments related to it affect?
– As you know, next Monday, January 25, the “exploratory contacts” between Greece and Turkey will start again after almost five years. Turkey is coming to them after a period of continuous postponements and attempts to blame the non-resumption of exploratory talks in Greece. It is coming mainly because it is under pressure from various developments: Biden's election and the expected strengthening of its behavior control, the tragic economic situation that imposes on Turkey the rapprochement of its most important economic partners, the decisions of the EU Summit in October and December The future of Euro-Turkish relations and the possibility of promoting the so-called “positive agenda” depend on the abandonment of its aggressive behavior in the eastern Mediterranean and its participation in exploratory talks with Greece, but also the detachment of the Cyprus problem – which they made Both the President and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus are clear with their statements – from the possibility of Greece achieving through the resumption of the process of exploratory contacts a more stable framework of relations with Turkey.
But the forced return of Turkey to exploratory contacts due to these pressures is a sham (the “charm attack” on the EU seems to be aimed at the “time market” until the next EU Summit in March and the restoration of its internationally tarnished image) and it does not refer to a sincere “return” of Turkey to the West, especially to Europe, or to the abandonment of the “Blue Homeland” narrative. This reality is also exacerbated today by the absence of a binding framework that would “impose” Turkey to participate constructively in exploratory contacts. As you know, such a framework existed in the first period of exploratory contacts (April 2002 – end of 2003) when progress was made in the talks because there was the “Damocles sword” of ending Turkey's European course if its participation was not constructive as well as the Compulsory appeal to the International Court of Justice in The Hague in case of failure to reach a solution. These conditions are lacking today and are almost impossible to impose on Turkey. Consequently, there are no serious reasons to be optimistic about the prospects of the Greek-Turkish dialogue.
Wanted for the Greek side a “new Helsinki”
– Could the EU impose more substantial economic and political sanctions on Turkey? What is the current EU-Turkey relationship? We also recently had a conversation between Erdogan and Borrell and von der Leyen.
– We are already witnessing an attempt at “repositioning” – I would not say folding – through a “charm attack” on Turkey in terms of its relations with both the EU and certain powerful states with which its relations were in crisis, such as France. (See recent letter exchanges between Macron and Erdogan and their agreement to restore relations). This new framework of relations will be attempted to be “tied” by the two sides in the near future and until the European Council in March through a strong diplomatic mobility of high-level visits to Ankara and Brussels.
We are therefore moving away from the already remote, if not unlikely for many reasons, possibility of imposing sanctions on Turkey. Let me remind you that the question for the EU was already from the European Council in early October 2020 how – once Turkey has given up its aggressive and illegal behavior and there has been a steady and permanent de-escalation – pave the way for the promotion of the so-called “positive agenda “. This “positive agenda” could mean an EU-Turkey agreement on at least two issues: updating / upgrading the EU-Turkey Customs Union (a matter of particular importance to Turkey) and immigration management (a matter of particular importance to itself). the EU and especially Germany). The big issue for the Greek side is to have an active participation in shaping the content of the new agreement between the EU and Turkey in order to achieve a – albeit limited – new “Helsinki” through the introduction of specific terms and conditions.
– How does immigration affect this Turkey-EU relationship?
– Immigration remains a key issue for EU-Turkey relations and in Turkey's eyes an important, perhaps most important, negotiating document, although in March 2020 with the “instrumentalization” of migrants and their use at the Greek-Turkish border in Evro, Turkey did not play the “immigration card” properly and did not win. But despite the sharp decline in migration from Turkey to Greece since then, migration management remains a major problem for both the EU (recent EU institutional initiatives do not seem to be able to tackle it effectively) and Greece (which will continue to act as a “shield” of the EU while maintaining as a “front line country” a heavy burden of its management).
Turkey also undoubtedly bears a huge burden on the more than 4 million migrants and refugees inside its country, a burden that no other country is prepared to bear. This reality allows it to emerge as a supporter of humanitarian values (see Erdogan's post at the UN General Assembly last year) while also planning to use refugees and migrants on its territory to advance foreign policy goals, such as its declared plan to transport and settle large numbers of refugees, mainly Syrians, and migrants at the Turkish-Syrian border, into Syrian territory it has illegally invaded, and to change the demographic composition of the region. He even asks the EU to fund this project. Immigration has therefore been and remains a strong bargaining chip for Turkey in terms of a possible agreement with the EU.
Turkish aggression must be dealt with in a coordinated manner
– How important are the Cyprus-Greece collaborations with various countries in the region, but also France and the USA, and how do they affect the “balance of developments” in the Middle East?
– Cyprus-Greece cooperation with various countries in the Eastern Mediterranean region as well as France and the United States have a positive effect on the “balance of power” in the region in the sense that they seek through strategic cooperation schemes to send strong deterrent messages and not allow in countries like Turkey that either want to play a hegemonic role in the eastern Mediterranean region or have specific revisionist ambitions to create accomplished ones.
Whether they positively or negatively affect the “balance of developments” you ask me is another matter that depends on whether co-operatives developing in an area create either representations of threat or a sense of exclusion from states that remain outside them. shapes. Such examples in the Eastern Mediterranean region can be considered the multilateral cooperation schemes of an anti-Turkish nature or those related to the exploitation (extraction and transport) of hydrocarbons (eg the East Med Gas Pipeline) perceived by Turkey as an attempt to exclude it. itself or the Turkish Cypriot community from the resulting benefits.
– Regarding the Cyprus issue, do you think that there can be a substantial development with the current state of affairs in Turkey and in the region in general?
– It is difficult to see a substantial development in a positive direction. Despite the disconnection of the Cyprus problem from the Greek-Turkish bilateral relations, the Cyprus issue will continue to affect the Greek-Turkish relations, while this is the reason for the recent “geographical expansion” of the Greek-Turkish conflict beyond the Aegean to the eastern Mediterranean. Also, especially after the emergence as leader of the Turkish Cypriot community of Erdogan's chosen one and a staunch supporter of the “two-state solution” as well as the provocative actions of the Turkish army in Varos, the prospects for resolving the Cyprus problem, mainly on the basis of a “bi-communal »Are removed, if not canceled. The escalation of Turkish aggression must be dealt with in a coordinated and decisive manner at the diplomatic level. It must also be understood that the strategy of “no solution” based on the perception that time works in favor of Greece or the Greek Cypriot side leads to the consolidation of division and strengthens the approaches of two states and / or a confederation.