Thursday, 29 March 2018

Greece vs. Turkey: Are we headed for an Intra-NATO War?

This article was published by The Weekly Standard.

Soldiers parade on Greece's national day, March 25.

The Aegean Sea between Greece and Turkey hosts one of the world’s highest concentrations of high-tech weaponry. Sixty-seven surface ships and two dozen submarines are deployed on a body of water the size of Lake Superior. The two air forces command 448 fighter jets armed with smart bombs and guided missiles. On land, 832 heavy tanks and more than 2,500 lighter artillery vehicles—as much tank firepower as in all the rest of Europe combined—could rapidly be brought to bear along a Greek-Turkish border only 105 miles long.

These arsenals, built up over decades and constantly modernized, were not merely a boon to U.S. and German defence contractors. Western policymakers wanted to believe that loyalty to NATO’s mission of containing the USSR, rather than regional rivalries, motivated this exemplary level of Greek and Turkish defense spending. After the Soviet Union collapsed, good diplomacy and Turkey’s E.U. aspirations made it possible, most of the time, to overlook the downsides of an arms race between uneasy neighbors. Recently, however, the Aegean has become a dangerously narrow sea.

For decades, Turkish military aircraft have regularly violated Greece’s 10-mile airspace around its islands, on the grounds that Greece’s territorial waters extend only six nautical miles from shore, and that air and sea borders should match. Turkish ships also ignore the territorial waters around a number of small islands whose Greek ownership Turkey questions. These ships and planes are intercepted by their Greek counterparts, and mock dogfights result. Occasionally fatal accidents occur.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Varoufakis launches Greek party

This article was published by Al Jazeera International. 

Yanis Varoufakis

Athens - When Yanis Varoufakis launched the “Democracy in Europe Movement 2025”, or DiEM25, two years ago, he said Europe’s democratic deficit needed to be tackled as a continental problem. His six-month tenure as Greece’s finance minister the previous year convinced him that national government lacked either the guts or the clout to change Europe. “The sovereignty of national parliaments has been dissolved by the Eurozone and the Eurogroup,” he said at the time.

On Monday Varoufakis announced that he is founding a Greek political party. This is in keeping with his promise to bring his transnational movement down to the national level in due course, where elections take place. His goal is to mount a pan-European movement by 2025, that will overturn the European establishment which, in his words, “is becoming ever more toxic, class oriented, powerless and discredited.”

He still draws energy and bile from those formative months in office, when Syriza went up against Greece’s creditors in the Eurozone and lost. Greece ended up signing onto a third bailout loan with further austerity measures.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Has the Greek recovery really arrived?

It's the moment we've been waiting for since bailouts began: The finance ministry says the Greek economy will turn a corner with 2.3pc growth this year, allowing it to make concessions to the beleaguered middle class after it graduates from the current adjustment programme in August. It points to a 19pc increase in exports in January and a small increase in bank lending for the first time in years. Bankruptcies fell last year for the first time since 2007. Interest on Greece's 10-year bond is 3.32pc, versus 6.79pc a year ago.
Not everyone is convinced, however. Consumer confidence improved last year, but did not lead to higher consumption, and has worsened again this year. Many Greeks are worried that Syriza may overspend once Greece graduates from austerity policies. And they are aware that Greece was forecast to grow by 2.7pc last year, but grew 1.4pc.