Greece gains from Turkish stability - analyst

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to Greece, the first by a serving Turkish president for 65 years, demonstrates how important the two countries are to one another, German Marshall Fund Vice President Ian Lesser told Greek newspaper Kathimerini.

“Greece is arguably the leading external stakeholder in Turkish stability and in the preservation of a multilateral Turkish approach in the Aegean, the Balkans and elsewhere,” Lesser said.

“The sharp deterioration in Turkish-EU relations is clearly at odds with Greek interests, even if Athens shares the wariness of its European partners about the decline of Turkish democracy, media freedom and rule of law.”

Issues on the table would include Cyprus and territorial disputes in the Aegean, but there would be more scope for agreements over refugees and maritime security, he said.

However, Lesser also said there were potential pitfalls if the discussions became particularly frank.

“To what extent will Prime Minister (Alexis) Tsipras feel compelled to react to the mounting repression and nationalist mood in Turkey?” he said. “This may be difficult to avoid if President Erdoğan raises the question of Turkish asylum seekers in Greece, European policy toward the Kurds, or other issues at the nexus of domestic and international policy.”

Ahead of the visit, Greek police arrested nine Turks who were alleged to be members of the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP-C), a far-left group associated with many recent acts of violence in Turkey.

This may be a token of goodwill in a situation in which it will not be legally possible for the Greek government to directly extradite July 2016 coup suspects who had claimed asylum in the country.