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Is “earthquake diplomacy” happening again?


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And the Ministers themselves agreed that “we should not wait for an earthquake to improve our relations”

By Penelope Galliou

Who would have expected that approximately two years after the heated “on camera” episode between Cavusoglu and Dendia in Ankara, the two Foreign Ministers would find themselves embracing – this time – on Turkish soil, erasing – at least for the time being – their episodic past. And history may not repeat itself for some, yet the past may be imitated out of safety or necessity.

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This was also reminded of the visit of the Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs to the earthquake-stricken Antioch accompanied by his Turkish counterpart, where the two heads of diplomacy of the two countries seem to have put the so-called “earthquake diplomacy” between Greece and Turkey back on track with a strong symbolism emitted by their warm embrace at the airport in Adana but also by their statements that followed, creating moderate expectations on both sides for a possible new phase in bilateral relations. And the Ministers themselves agreed that “we should not wait for an earthquake to improve our relations”.

Obviously, no one would have expected that the current Greek-Turkish relations, as they are formed in the light of the biblical disaster of the earthquake in Turkey and the provision of aid by Greece, could be consolidated and resolved the long-standing Greek-Turkish differences, or that the Turkish revisionism.

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However, the current conditions can significantly reduce the tension that has prevailed recently – commented a government official – and at the same time increase the soft power of Greece. At the same time, the presence of Greece from the first moment on the side of the tested Turks and its promotion by both the Turkish and international media, according to the same sources, helps the image of Greece in the eyes of the ordinary Turkish citizen, who for years he was “bombarded” by an anti-Greek propaganda that was practically and universally denied.

After all, this is how – an experienced analyst reminded – the recession in Greek-Turkish relations had also come after the crisis in Imia. About three and a half years after January 1996, there was the deadly earthquake in northwestern Asia Minor centered on Nicomedia, in August 1999, and then the immediate reaction of the Greek government also followed, sending rescue teams and humanitarian aid for the first time. A move that was gratefully accepted by the Turkish side, which unfortunately had to retaliate to the great Parnitha earthquake that followed in Athens in September 1999.

The then political leaders of the two countries used the events to change the climate of Greek-Turkish relations and to establish the term “earthquake diplomacy”. Among the positive steps of the era was the establishment of Greek-Turkish cooperation in areas of so-called “low politics” such as tourism or trade, bringing about dozens of bilateral cooperation agreements that were non-existent until then.

This climate led to a good decade in Greek-Turkish relations, both with the Kemal forces that ruled Turkey at the time with Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, and in the first years of Tayyip Erdogan’s rule at the beginning of the new millennium and created conditions of stability in Greek-Turkish relations – without resolution of course – but with open channels of communication.

Today the climate has been poisoned to a very large extent with the tensions and Turkish threats of recent years, but whether the earthquake diplomacy and the wave of compassion of the Greek people on the one hand and the gratitude of the Turkish people on the other, will work positively , is now left to the leaderships of the two countries.

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