Following the trend of a new foreign policy pro-activism, Greece is the last example of Turkey’s increasing soft power in dealing with regional matters. Two are the main aspects of Turkey’s dramatic shift from military actorness to soft-power exercise. First of all, the on-going process of de-securitization has marked a deep rift in the way Turkey has traditionally perceived her neighbourhood. The decreasing trend in military expenditure is such an evidence of that. Secondly, Turkey is now curtailing the role since ever attributed to military power in order to experiment with new method to exert influence, namely using the power of trade.

Greece has undoubtedly been a constant foe for Turkey. Several territorial disputes, being the worst the Imia-Kardak affair during Tansu Ciller’s coalition government, and the long-lasting militarization of the Eagean Sea have created a context of tension that negatively influenced Greece-Turkey mutual understanding. Greece has in fact the EU highest military expenditure rate while Turkey is well-known for her quite remarkable military assets. Turkey’s military spending in the 2003-2008 period is in fact 1.8 times higher than Greece: Just in 2008 Turkey spent $16.7 billion in military assets while Greece $12.6 billion. However, bearing in mind that Turkish economy’s size is more than the double of Greek economy, Greece’s 3.34% GDP-military expenditure ratio shows that the EU member has proportionally spent more than Turkey, whose ratio is indeed 2.57%. Greece’s bid to the EU (then EC), its favourable outcome and Greece obstruction to Turkey’s membership just exacerbated relations between the two neighbours.

All this was a matter of the past, when Turkey was a growing but not a booming economy, when Turkish governments were coalitional and weak, when the Single Market had achieved a remarkable level of wealth and peace for its members whereas Turkey was sourrended by hostile and unpredictable countries. Greece’s leverage over Turkey has now literally fell apart, and Greek economy as well. In the past weeks Greece has in fact been ridden by harsh demonstrations opposing Prime Minister Papandreou’s austerity measures-package. Also several people lost their lives in the turmoil. The 110 billions euro bailout staged by the EU and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was set up to allow financial markets regain confidence in Greek assets and to avoid one of the Eurozone 15 members’ complete default.

Today the situation has radically changed. Turkey is within the world’s 20 more dynamic economies in terms of growth rate and trade volume. Greece has a small economy on the verge of collapse. Like it or not Turkey has now a definitely wider room of manouver towards Greece. And the way Turkey decided to act thoroughly matches with the new Turkish foreign policy paradigm. To start with, Prime Minister Erdogan has highly emphasized the relevance of last Friday’s visit outlining the ‘historical importance’� of the meeting. Through Turkey’s eyes Greek financial crisis could be the opportunity to reset and refresh patterns of cooperations that have always been tense. The political rapproachment achieved during the 1990s could thus be further strengthened via deeper economic partnership. Something that Greece desperately needs. In his visit to Greece PM Erdogan was accompanied by several Ministers; among them Finance Minister Ali Babacan reiterated Turkish investors’ intention to set up business in Greece. In the previous years Turkish investors did not significantly invest in Greece, instead preferring new EU members such as Romania and Bulgaria. On the contrary the amount of foreign direct investments (FDI) coming from Greece was quite remarkable: Between 2004 an 2008 more than $5.8 billion counted as the 10% of total FDI flowing into Turkey. According to Mustafa Kutlay, USAK political economy expert, Greece financial crisis will push Turkish investors towards Greece so that new joint-ventures and mergers will be likely to happen.

PM also encouraged Greece-Turkey relations to grow especially in terms of trade volumes, who he expects to reach 5 billion euros. Trade relations between Turkey and Greece substantially increased during the period 2000-2008: In 2000 in fact trade volume was $868 million and at the end of 2008 total trade increased to more than $3,5 billion. However due to 2009 economic crisis and global recession trade volume between the two countries lowered to $2,7 billion. Hence, the sign of 22 agreements and cooperation protocols over transport, education, energy, environment aiming at easing Greek economic crisis, increasing tourism and business cooperation. In the field of energy, the project of the Turkey-Greece-Italy Interconnection within the wider South East European Energy Ring has also been discussed. Giving the growing amount of Greek tourists coming to Turkey, more than 570.000 people at the end of 2008 for instance, tourism is another crucial sector to boost Greece’s recovery and enhance social ties.

Turkey thus seems willing to involve in Greece’s recovery. Adopting an already tested formula, current Turkey’s relations with other countries mainly involves economic aspects, summerized by economic agreements and protocols and besides, the establishment of high-level cooperation council which should increase political dialogue and thus bettering mutual understanding off in order to eliminate reasons for confrontation. In this regards, it is highly valuable to report what PM Erdogan said: ‘Both countries have very large defense budgets. … We must reduce these expenditures and use the money for other purposes’. Turkey is then showing a clear commitment to ease Greek financial crisis, both improving economic ties, although it is argued that the agreements signed deal mainly with minor issues, and engaging in confidence-building measures that could gradually lower both countries’ level of military expenditure. Trade is then fated to replace arms race in the Aegean Sea? The changing nature of Turkey’s power and the pace of Greece’s recovery will spell out future the rationale behind Turkey-Greece future relations.

Read the article on Turkish Weekly

Turkey

Following the trend of a new foreign policy pro-activism, Greece is the last example of Turkey’s increasing soft power in dealing with regional matters. Two are the main aspects of Turkey’s dramatic shift from military actorness to soft-power exercise. First of all, the on-going process of de-securitization has marked a deep rift in the way Turkey has traditionally perceived her neighbourhood. The decreasing trend in military expenditure is such an evidence of that. Secondly, Turkey is now curtailing the role since ever attributed to military power in order to experiment with new method to exert influence, namely using the power of trade.

Greece has undoubtedly been a constant foe for Turkey. Several territorial disputes, being the worst the Imia-Kardak affair during Tansu Ciller’s coalition government, and the long-lasting militarization of the Eagean Sea have created a context of tension that negatively influenced Greece-Turkey mutual understanding. Greece has in fact the EU highest military expenditure rate while Turkey is well-known for her quite remarkable military assets. Turkey’s military spending in the 2003-2008 period is in fact 1.8 times higher than Greece: Just in 2008 Turkey spent $16.7 billion in military assets while Greece $12.6 billion. However, bearing in mind that Turkish economy’s size is more than the double of Greek economy, Greece’s 3.34% GDP-military expenditure ratio shows that the EU member has proportionally spent more than Turkey, whose ratio is indeed 2.57%. Greece’s bid to the EU (then EC), its favourable outcome and Greece obstruction to Turkey’s membership just exacerbated relations between the two neighbours.

All this was a matter of the past, when Turkey was a growing but not a booming economy, when Turkish governments were coalitional and weak, when the Single Market had achieved a remarkable level of wealth and peace for its members whereas Turkey was sourrended by hostile and unpredictable countries. Greece’s leverage over Turkey has now literally fell apart, and Greek economy as well. In the past weeks Greece has in fact been ridden by harsh demonstrations opposing Prime Minister Papandreou’s austerity measures-package. Also several people lost their lives in the turmoil. The 110 billions euro bailout staged by the EU and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was set up to allow financial markets regain confidence in Greek assets and to avoid one of the Eurozone 15 members’ complete default.

Today the situation has radically changed. Turkey is within the world’s 20 more dynamic economies in terms of growth rate and trade volume. Greece has a small economy on the verge of collapse. Like it or not Turkey has now a definitely wider room of manouver towards Greece. And the way Turkey decided to act thoroughly matches with the new Turkish foreign policy paradigm. To start with, Prime Minister Erdogan has highly emphasized the relevance of last Friday’s visit outlining the ‘historical importance’� of the meeting. Through Turkey’s eyes Greek financial crisis could be the opportunity to reset and refresh patterns of cooperations that have always been tense. The political rapproachment achieved during the 1990s could thus be further strengthened via deeper economic partnership. Something that Greece desperately needs. In his visit to Greece PM Erdogan was accompanied by several Ministers; among them Finance Minister Ali Babacan reiterated Turkish investors’ intention to set up business in Greece. In the previous years Turkish investors did not significantly invest in Greece, instead preferring new EU members such as Romania and Bulgaria. On the contrary the amount of foreign direct investments (FDI) coming from Greece was quite remarkable: Between 2004 an 2008 more than $5.8 billion counted as the 10% of total FDI flowing into Turkey. According to Mustafa Kutlay, USAK political economy expert, Greece financial crisis will push Turkish investors towards Greece so that new joint-ventures and mergers will be likely to happen.

PM also encouraged Greece-Turkey relations to grow especially in terms of trade volumes, who he expects to reach 5 billion euros. Trade relations between Turkey and Greece substantially increased during the period 2000-2008: In 2000 in fact trade volume was $868 million and at the end of 2008 total trade increased to more than $3,5 billion. However due to 2009 economic crisis and global recession trade volume between the two countries lowered to $2,7 billion. Hence, the sign of 22 agreements and cooperation protocols over transport, education, energy, environment aiming at easing Greek economic crisis, increasing tourism and business cooperation. In the field of energy, the project of the Turkey-Greece-Italy Interconnection within the wider South East European Energy Ring has also been discussed. Giving the growing amount of Greek tourists coming to Turkey, more than 570.000 people at the end of 2008 for instance, tourism is another crucial sector to boost Greece’s recovery and enhance social ties.

Turkey thus seems willing to involve in Greece’s recovery. Adopting an already tested formula, current Turkey’s relations with other countries mainly involves economic aspects, summerized by economic agreements and protocols and besides, the establishment of high-level cooperation council which should increase political dialogue and thus bettering mutual understanding off in order to eliminate reasons for confrontation. In this regards, it is highly valuable to report what PM Erdogan said: ‘Both countries have very large defense budgets. … We must reduce these expenditures and use the money for other purposes’. Turkey is then showing a clear commitment to ease Greek financial crisis, both improving economic ties, although it is argued that the agreements signed deal mainly with minor issues, and engaging in confidence-building measures that could gradually lower both countries’ level of military expenditure. Trade is then fated to replace arms race in the Aegean Sea? The changing nature of Turkey’s power and the pace of Greece’s recovery will spell out future the rationale behind Turkey-Greece future relations.

Read the article on Turkish Weekly

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