ANALYSIS - Remembering history while pleasing Greece, cornering Turkey and canceling NATO

Promoting Greece as bastion of American interests in the region contradicts the historical facts and would severely undermine NATO alliance

Ahmet Gençtürk  | 09.05.2021 - Update : 11.05.2021
ANALYSIS - Remembering history while pleasing Greece, cornering Turkey and canceling NATO


While a systematic delegitimization campaign against Turkey, not only President Erdogan is in full swing at western media and think-thanks, a successful PR campaign evaluating Greece to 'bastion of Western interest, an island of stability and democracy 'is simultaneously carried out by primarily same Turcophobic circles.

As such, it is perhaps high time to remember the recent decades of Greece's presently overlooked history of anti-Americanism and record of undermining the West. The history of modern anti-Americanism in Greece can be traced back to the 1940s. When Greece fell into a bloody civil war in 1946, government forces prevailed after three years against the broadly popular and strong communist Greek People's Liberation Army (ELAS), only thanks to the immense military and financial support of Britain and America. While the government's victory came with the cost of execution, exile, or imprisonment of around 100,000 communists, anti-left policies of the Greek state, which was supported or overlooked by the West and included systematic suppression, discrimination, and internal exile of the communists, continued even after the civil war.[1] Understandably, this state of affairs created a deep-rooted anti-Americanism in the Greek left. The famous conviction that the US encouraged Turkish intervention in Cyprus in 1974 spread anti-Americanism within broader segments of Greek society, conservative, leftist, nationalist alike.

Highly prevalent and militant anti-Americanism in Greece started to nurture from the 1980s onwards during the rule of Andreas Papandreou's Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK). Greece supported the Jaruzelski dictatorship in Poland, refused to condemn the suppression of dissidents in the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc and the downing of a Korean commercial airliner by Soviet warplanes in 1983, and opposed the deployment of American cruise and Pershing missiles in Europe against the Soviet Union. Simultaneously, it maintained relations and/or harbored many organizations, including Lebanon's Hezbollah, the Abu Nidal Organization (ANO) and the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA), PKK, which were designated as terrorist organizations by Greece's NATO allies including America.

Anti-Americanism in Greece, however, reached its zenith during the Yugoslav war of succession in the 1990s. Throughout those wars, Greece supported the Milosevic regime in Belgrade and the Karadzic regime in Pale morally, economically, and politically. It constantly violated the UN-imposed oil embargo on Serbia and the EU decision entailing the freezing of assets belonging to the Milosevic regime.[2] Moreover, it overlooked Greek volunteers' fighting for the Serbian cause, which was condemned by the West, and participation in the Srebrenica massacre.[3] As aptly put by a leading Serb journalist Peter Lucovic, "Greece's policies benefited the Milosevic regime exclusively, helping the Milosevic family and its associates to retain power in Belgrade. The Milosevic regime used Greece as the fine example of a Western country that supported democratic and patriotic Serbia." [4]

The first decade of the new millennia didn't witness any improvement in pro-American feelings in Greece. Feeling even more confident and autonomous after becoming a Eurozone member that brought short-term prosperity to the country, Greeks turned one of the most anti-American nations in the whole world.[5] At the time, most Greeks believed that the Americans allied with Turks and Jews to attack Greece, Greek culture, and religion. Among other things, they even believed that the US itself was behind the 9/11 terror attacks.[6]

One would be curious to know what kind of sanctions Greece faced for its openly anti-American policies, which openly undermined American interests in the Near East and the Balkans. The surprising answer is no sanction at all. While the Greek state provided a haven for anti-American terrorist organizations and aided America's enemies in the Balkans, America still didn't hesitate to provide Greece the most modern American arms, including F-16 fighter planes and AH-64 Apache attack helicopters. Furthermore, America under the Obama administration stepped in to press the EU to bail out Greece when its economy collapsed in 2009.

To be fair, Greek diplomacy, with the help of strong Greek diaspora and other anti-Turkish circles in America, masterfully exploited the disputed areas between Turkey and America from the mid-2010s on. America's short-sighted alliance with PKK terror group's Syria offspring YPG, ambiguous policy toward FETO terror group, which is responsible for the defeated coup attempt of July 15, 2016, and mainly imposing covert, sometimes overt arms embargo on Turkey on the pretext that Turkey purchased S-400 SAM and thus acted against its commitments against America and NATO played a significant role in Turkish-American relations' deterioration.

Meanwhile, America started to shift its policy regarding Turkish-Greek disagreements in the Aegean, the Eastern Mediterranean, and Cyprus. It voiced support for maximalist Greek claims, which cannot be accepted by any elected government in Turkey. Moreover, America intends to sell state-of-art frigates and F-35 fighter planes to Greece and negotiates for expanding its military presence in Greece. These developments, without a doubt, would create two profound and immediate problems, not only for Turkey but also for America and NATO.

Being deprived of Western weapons to maintain the balance in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkey would have to seek other alternatives. Such a move might indeed cause negative economic, military, and political implications for Turkey. However, losing Turkey, which possesses one of the strongest and experienced armies of the NATO, to other non-Western powerhouses would practically mean the end of NATO, the guarantee of prosperity and security of the West for over 70 years.

* Opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Anadolu Agency.

[1] Martin Eve, “Anti-Communism and American Intervention in Greece,” Socialist Register 21 (1984):101-113.

[2] Takis Michas, Unholy Alliance: Greece and Milosevic's Serbia: Greece and Serbia in the Nineties (College Station: Texas A&M University Press,2002).

[3] Hikmet Karcic, “Fear Not, For You Have Brothers in Greece”: A Research Note," Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal 3, no 1 (2008):145-152.

[4] Takis Michas,” America The Despised,” The National Interest 67 (2002):95.

[5] Elisabeth Kirtsoglou & Dimitrios Theodossopoulos , “The Poetics of Anti-Americanism in Greece: Rhetoric, Agency, and Local Meaning,” Social Analysis 54, no.1 (2010):106-124.

[6] Michael C. Geokas, “Anti-Americanism in Greece, An Iron Curtain between Greeks and Greek-Americans”, The National Herald (NY) (January 26-27,2002).

Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.