Category Archives: Foreign Policy

A Note on Greek Foreign Policy under Syriza

Source: Reuters

Much has been said and written about the foreign policy that will be followed by the newly-elected coalition government in Greece that consists of majority Syriza (Coalition of the Radical Left) and minority center-to-right wing ANEL (Independent Greeks). Much of the fear-mongering and gloom analysis stems from assumptions that Syriza and many of its members (such as new Foreign Minister Dr. Nikos Kotzias) are anti-European, leftist nationalists and pro-Russian. A short evaluation will show that although we might witness some foreign policy alterations due to the rise of Syriza, they will neither be to an “axis-shift” extent nor, for example, akin to the change that we’ve witnessed in Turkey under the Justice and Development Party (AKP).  Continue reading


Syriza’s Victory and Greek-Israeli Relations

Source: GreekReporter

By Zenonas Tziarras* & Ioannis-Sotirios Ioannou**

The Coalition of Radical Left (Syriza) was the big winner of the Greek national elections of January 25, 2015, as expected. With 36.34% of the votes, Syriza and its leader (now Prime Minister) Alexis Tsipras won 149 seats, two seats shy of absolute majority. New Democracy, of now former Prime Minster Antonis Samaras, came second with 27.86% and 76 seats. Syriza chose to form a coalition government with Panos Kammenos’ populist and far-right (though often-referred to as center-right) Independent Greeks (ANEL), that won 13 seats with 4.8% of the votes. Not only that, but Tsipras appointed Kammenos as the new Minister of Defense. Although leftist Nikos Kotzias, Syriza’s new Foreign Minister, is more cool-headed and pragmatist, if assertive, than Kammenos, the Ministry of Defense plays an important role in security issues and Kammenos might adopt a harder line that could challenge Greece’s overall foreign policy with particular respect to relations with Turkey and Israel. Overall, these developments may signal a new approach in Greek foreign policy on issues ranging from the EU, to Russia and the Eastern Mediterranean. Continue reading

Turkey’s Imbalances and Identity Crisis


Source: Reuters

It was June, 2013. I arrived in Ankara, Turkey, right on time to witness the development of the protests that began at Istanbul’s Gezi Park and spread throughout the country’s urban centers, as well as to experience and participate in the social and political discussion that was taking place at that time. The purpose of my visit included the participation in a conference on Turkish foreign policy and some field research. That gave me the opportunity to speak and exchange views with students of International Relations, academics, experts, and diplomats.

A widespread understanding was that Turkish society had been left without a political alternative. In other words, the political opposition – most notably the Republican People’s Party, CHP – was not an adequate opponent to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). And there was no other option. Most of the people I discussed with were open in expressing their discomfort with the AKP’s policies. Others, mostly people affiliated in one way or another to the government, appeared more reluctant to directly criticize the AKP. Yet the consensus was clear: The AKP has made significant improvements with regard to the country’s democratization, economy, and foreign policy. But this did not change the fact that it became gradually authoritarian by having a majoritarian approach to democracy. As often argued, this was also reflected in foreign policy. Continue reading

Συνέντευξη στον “Πολίτη” – Ζήνωνας Τζιάρρας: “Δεν Μπορούμε να Αποκτήσουμε Υψηλή Στρατηγική Χωρίς Επίλυση του Κυπριακού”

Η παρακάτω συνέντευξη παραχωρήθηκε στον δημοσιογράφο Γιάννη Ιωάννου και δημοσιεύτηκε στον “Πολίτη” της Κυριακής, στις 29 Σεπτ. 2013, σελ. 79.

Ο διεθνολόγος Ζήνωνας Τζιάρρας, διδακτορικός ερευνητής στο Πανεπιστήμιο του Warwick και στο “think tank Strategy International,” μας δίνει το τρέχον στίγμα της τουρκικής εξωτερικής πολιτικής και μια συνοπτική ματιά των εξελίξεων στην περιοχή μας.

Για αρχή, θα ήθελα να σχολιάσετε την τρέχουσα διαμόρφωση της τουρκικής εξωτερικής πολιτικής. Πώς επιδρά σε σχέση με την τουρκοκυπριακή κοινότητα και πως επιδρά στην διαδικασία επίλυσης του Κυπριακού, μια διαδικασία η οποία βρίσκεται σε σημείο επανέναρξης;

Παρά το ότι το θέμα αυτό χωράει μεγάλη συζήτηση, θα αρκεστώ στο να πώ ότι αυτή τη στιγμή η Τουρκία βρίσκεται σε στρατηγική σύγχιση, παρόλο που θα μπορούσε ο χειρισμός της στα περιφερειακά ζητήματα να είναι πολύ χειρότερος. Για να αξιλογογηθεί εν συντομία ο ρόλος της στην Κύπρο πρέπει καταρχάς να λάβουμε υπόψην δύο πράγματα – πέραν από τους όχι και τόσο θετικους οιωνούς σε δικοινωτικό επίπεδο: α. Η τουρκική εξωτερική πολιτική εν μέσω περιφερειακής αστάθειας έχει να ασχοληθεί με πολύ πιο σημαντικά ζητήματα από αυτό της Κύπρου, και ας μη πλανόμαστε ότι η ευρωπαϊκή της προοπτική μπορεί να επηρεάσει αυτή την πραγματικότητα όσον αφορά το Κυπριακό ή οτιδήποτε άλλο. β. Είναι σημαντικό να καταλάβουμε ότι η Κύπρος και το Κυπριακό βρίσκονται αυτή τη στιγμή στην καλύτερη τους φάση για την Τουρκία και τα συμφέροντά της, με τις ενεργειακές εξελίξεις να έχουν θετικές προοπτικές για την ίδια, και την Κύπρο να είναι οικονομικά, και συνεπώς διπλωματικά, ακρωτηριασμένη. Μια οποιαδήποτε λύση, όπως και το 2004, θα ήτανε θετική για την Άγκυρα και αυτό, όπως φαίνεται, είναι μέχρι ενός βαθμού αναπόφευκτο. Παραμένει να αξιολογήσουμε τα δεδομένα με σοβαρότητα και να παρουσιαστούμε διεκδικητικοί όσον αφορά το περιεχόμενο Λύσης, πάντα όμως με ρεαλισμό. Continue reading

Where is Erdogan Headed?

It is well known that “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” So here is the question: Given that Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, does not possess absolute power and yet is considered by many to be corrupt and increasingly authoritarian, where would his pursuit of absolute power lead him and what would that mean for Turkey? In this light, the importance of the current protests in Turkey lies not so much in the political change that they could bring about, but in the possibility that they might not bring about the political change they would like to.

When he first assumed power in 2003, Prime Minister Erdogan entered the political scene with a reformist dynamic. A promising dynamic for Turkey’s economic development and growth, its relations with the EU, its civil-military relations and its democratization process, its abidance with the international and EU law, and the overall political, economic and social stability of the country as well as its increasingly important position in the region and the world. Erdogan, and his Justice and Development Party (AKP), succeeded to a great extent and Turkish people loved him for that. He gave Turkey the impetus that many believed it should have. But this is not the whole story. The more PM Erdogan and the AKP consolidated their power over the state and at the expense of the political power of the military, the more their control became “asphyxiating” (for many) and their policies reflected a top-down conservative social engineering project. Continue reading