I challenge U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to prove that one-third of the 170 House members – who wrote to him about Turkey’s “human rights troubles” – are capable of locating Turkey on the map. I would also like him to provide one example of Turkey violating Greece's airspace as he mentioned to some of those 170 representatives last week.
Today and tomorrow, the second session of the exploratory meetings between Turkey and Greece is set to take place in Athens. These meetings were the only peaceful aspect that Blinken touched on and he should know that they were initiated by the Turkish government in 2002 and stopped by Greece in 2016.
Right before the July 15 coup bid by the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), the Greek side failed to show up for the meeting. It took more than three years to convince them to come back to the peaceful negotiation table. The Greeks sent a retired bureaucrat as their representative to Istanbul, but it was better than nothing.
The two sides agreed to continue to explore how to maintain peace, while Greece and the Greek Cypriots consistently rejected Turkey's sovereign rights in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Both nations should be considered lucky to even have their leaders discuss issues. The Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was happy to be persuaded by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel into buying warplanes and tanks. (One can somehow understand a country of archipelagos and islands buying airplanes, but why on earth would it buy tanks? Against the Republic of North Macedonia, a country one-fifth of its size or against Turkey, a country six times bigger?)
Agreed, Antony Blinken’s foreign policy experience seems to be informed by what he reads in Le Monde Diplomatique, (he attended a bilingual high school in Paris) and his six years as Biden’s advisor in the U.S. Senate. But he also attended Robert Kagan’s private seminars on “how to become internationally-conservative while remaining locally-liberal” at the Brookings Institution for which he co-authored articles suggesting policies for the future Democratic president.
We know he played soccer every Sunday in Washington with some of his foreign policy friends, including Congressperson Tom Malinowski, the architect of the Iranian nuclear deal Robert Malley, former Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Philip Gordon and others. He now represents the “NeoCon Hawks” team at the White House.
But this time the play is much more serious: the U.S. Secretary of State cannot and should not speak without evidence. Blinken must stop speaking from both sides of his mouth. He says the U.S. has “criticized actions, including by Turkey, which violate international law ... including ... airspace violation.” He would probably say something like, “Well, I did not criticize Turkey, per se, but all actions,” if confronted. No, Sir. Now you are obligated to list all Turkish airspace violations against Greece.
The Greek government claims that their tiny little islands on the Turkish continental shelf should have the same sovereign rights as the mainland next to them. The open seas between those tiny islands to the Greek mainland are also under Greek sovereignty, they say. But, for instance, the United Kingdom doesn’t make such absurd claims against France, on whose continental shelf there are several British islands. There are many similar examples of such “historical waters.”
Has Blinken read the Turkish Background Note on the Aegean Dispute ever? No, he hasn’t. It seems neither did his deputy Victoria Nuland during her long years at the State Department.
In spectator games, participants play “to the gallery” at times, aiming to please the crowds. If 40% of the members of the House send a letter saying that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has strained the (Turkish-U.S.) relationship right before the secretary testifies in front of them, then the secretary is bound to talk about “violations of international law by Turkey.”
Blinken must have noticed the coincidence between the letter he received and the “Stop Erdoğan” billboards all over the U.S. It should be easy for him to recognize the similarities between those who visited the House members asking them to sign the letter he received and the people who organized the “Stop Erdoğan” initiative. Not that small advertisement agency backed by $64,000 (around TL 484,000) initial capital in a Maryland neighborhood.
Blinken should ask the department lawyers to dust off the cargo loads of files and folders Turkey has been sending since 2013 about FETÖ. With the millions of dollars from the U.S. charter school system lining their pockets every year, Blinken and his State Department will hardly be able to discuss any issue with Turkey, and FETÖ will continue to influence at the local and federal levels.
They have poisoned bilateral relations and cemented the perception in Turkey that the protection being received from the U.S. government could be weaponized against the country, making bilateral talks very difficult. Even the security-related U.S. claims about the S-400 air defense system Turkey purchased from Russia are perceived in Turkey as a U.S. ploy to obfuscate Turkey’s extradition demand of the FETÖ leader and his cult. What else could block Blinken's view of Turkey bending over backward to solve the Aegean problems “peacefully, diplomatically, not militarily, not through provocative actions” other than the FETÖ specter between the two countries?
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