The following words appeared in Greek newspaper Kontranews as a letter written in Turkish addressing Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu during his visit to Greece last week.
“Allah has made us neighbors. That is a ‘sign,’ Mr. Prime Minister ... had we not squabbled among ourselves, imagine what our peoples could have achieved… Had we lived in peace and friendship, we could have made our countries heavens on earth...”
“...Let us come to an agreement on all matters. Please understand that we wish to be your friend and partner, not enemies as we have been for the past 100 years. Imagine what we could do together. Imagine how strong we could be. Turkey, Greece and Cyprus.”
The letter represented the true sentiments of people of both sides. As a matter of fact, hopes are high on both sides. It was evident from the warm welcome accorded to Davutoglu in Greece. The Turkish premier reciprocated similar sentiments. The first thing he said during his meeting with the Greek president was: “You can change everything, but you cannot alter geography. Thank God we are neighbors."
It was indeed a visit that saw smiling faces with genuine hopes and calls for brotherhood and unity. There is an obvious positive shift in Turkish ties with its neighbors. There are striking similarities between Greece and Turkey. People from both sides of the divide watch one another’s TV programs, like the same foods and share similar social values and customs.
During the past century, artificial discords with our neighbor Greece have only hurt mutual ties. Mediterranean policies involving east and west, politicians seeking to preserve the errors of the past and the problem of Cyprus, deliberately employed as an obstacle to an amicable solution, repulsed all steps toward progress. Recently, after Greek Cypriot administration declared a part of the Eastern Mediterranean as its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), a Turkish boat was sent to that particular area to carry out seismic research near Cyprus. It followed a suspension of the Cyprus talks by the Greek side. Fortunately, this issue had no negative impact on Greece. Both countries know very well that the issue of Cyprus has to be resolved sooner or later and that the talks need to continue.
As a matter of fact, recent statements from both sides should be taken as signs of a possible breakthrough.
Once the issue is resolved, hopes are high that both sides are likely to collaborate on establishing energy corridors in the Eastern Mediterranean. Davutoglu expressed this positive approach in these words: “We are now determined to open our minds, hearts and, most important of all, all our doors in relations between Turkey and Greece, rather than the taboos and clichés of the past.”
Such determination can lead to many things. Greece is one of those countries worst hit by the economic crisis that had erupted in 2007. When the signs of economic collapse began appearing, Turkey acted even before the EU in offering Greece assistance. At a time when all banks had cut off credit, Turkish banks offered loans to Greek industrialists and businessmen. The crisis is not yet completely over in Greece. People are tense, which is why the streets have turned into places of protest. The drama of some 150 Syrian refugees living with their families in Sintagma Square is another matter again. Left alone in the crisis, Greece lacks the strength to solve all their problems. This is where Turkey should become involved. The words of Kontranews in its letter to Davutoglu explicitly express that demand: “We want you to stand beside us at this time and to say a friendly word, if nothing more. And when you have problems, we must do the same… There is an old Greek proverb that says, the first help comes from God, the second from one’s neighbor.”
Davutoglu made an excellent reply to that call; “Thank God, we are neighbors.”
Readers will recall that the aim of a “New Turkey,” set out as the government changed, foresaw a bridge of unity based on friendship rather than self-interest or competition. The starting point should be our neighbor, Greece. Turkey is certainly ready to help Greece in this difficult time. However, for that to happen, the two identical countries must be united first. It is essential for the border between Greece and Turkey to be opened so as to make it easier for the people to visit the two countries and the two sides should forge an alliance on all matters.
Turkey’s not being a member of the EU certainly makes it more difficult to make a move in terms of Greece. Greek leaders also mentioned that during the visit, saying that they would do all in their power for Turkey to join the EU. While Turkey is not yet a member of the EU, measures can still be taken to bring about the future unity of Turkey and Greece, and they need to be taken urgently. Turkey has offered Greek officials its economic expertise to help the Greek economy grow. However, the alliance should go further than that. There is need for a union that helps our neighbor grow with us.
Global politics does not have to be based on ruthlessness and self-interest around an ideal of a “clash of civilizations.” Such a policy of self-interest will clearly lead the world to disaster. Global politics should be based on friendship and loyalty. We hope that an alliance between Turkey and Greece will be an important example of this.
Adnan Oktar's piece on Arab News & News Rescue: