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Greece must continue to closely watch emboldened Erdogan

Wars do not require military violence to become acts of hostility

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Europe has been lucky enough to not have been dragged into a military altercation on the continent in over two decades, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t, or won’t, happen again. The situation in and around Europe is becoming more precarious by the week, or so it seems.

The EU is becoming ever more fractured and NATO has apparently lost its way. Right on Europe’s doorstep is the regime of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which is increasingly resembling a dictatorship, which can be noted by yet another reelection to the Turkish Presidency last month.

Irish Times reoports

We are fortunate in Europe in the sense that we haven’t had a major military conflict since the collapse of Yugoslavia and the Bosnian-Serb conflict of the 1990s. Maybe we are also fortunate that the refugee crisis is making us aware of wars elsewhere and the need for conciliation and mutual respect.

But there are invisible wars continuing: wars of attrition, wars of diplomacy, economic wars which don’t need bombs, gas masks or even verbal abuse but which thrive on factors which are just as insidious as ethnic cleansing, terrorism and religious prejudice.

Turkey may not officially be at war, but the narrow victory of President Recip Erdogan in last month’s elections will certainly increase the levels of aggression on which he, as executive president, will be able to operate. At home, Erdogan has not only effectively declared war on the opposition (imprisoning dissident academics, teachers and journalists) but makes no secret of his determination to suppress, if not exterminate, the Kurdish minority.

Greece is watching Erdogan’s success with apprehension. He has already carried his arguments into the enemy camp during his state visit here last December when he spoke of rescinding the international treaties under which the Dodecanese islands (including Rhodes, Kos and Patmos) became part of Greece in 1947.

Twice in the past 30 years, Greece and Turkey have been on the brink of war over the ownership of such islands. And Erdogan has indicated that he regards the citizens of northeastern Greece, who happen to be Muslim, as more properly part of his own Islamic hegemony.

Wars therefore do not require military violence to become acts of hostility. Turkish warplanes provocatively entering Greek airspace are a tragedy waiting to happen and could precipitate a territorial conflict.

Reason for war

And wars are not always fought for their ostensible reasons. The Greek war of independence was more about weakening the Ottoman empire (the “sick man of Europe”) than about freedom for Greeks. Turkey was a threat to the Austro-Hungarian empire because it controlled most of the Balkan region including the lands that are modern Greece. The states of Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, Macedonia came into existence as and when it suited the Great Powers to create them.

The “war” of the Grexit, when it looked as if Greece would leave the euro zone and revert to the drachma, wasn’t about saving the Greek economy (which was almost “dead in the Med” anyway) but about safeguarding the euro itself and the German and French banks which had over-lent to Greece.

It was about saving the architects of the euro zone from a horrendous own goal. The destruction of the Greek economy and the near-collapse of the Italian, Spanish, Irish and Portuguese exchequers were the result of war-by-banking and war-by-chicanery.

The “war” of the refugee crisis is being fought not so much to protect the Syrians and Afghans but to test Europe’s capacity for humanitarian compassion against its equal and opposite capacity to repel what it does not understand. Syria’s internal war, the ubiquitous Islamic State and the Middle East conflicts are challenging Europe’s conscience by fuelling its fears.

Virtual dictatorship

The next “war”, to protect Europe from itself, will be fought not to respect the democratic rights of Italians, Greeks, Catalans or Basques but to copperfasten the hegemony of the northern states.

The situation in Turkey, with a virtual dictatorship sitting on Europe’s doorstep, must make both the European centrists and expansionists fearful for the alleged ideals of the European founders: democracy, justice, free trade and movement of peoples and ideas, all of which are challenged by Greece’s nearest and most aggressive neighbour, Turkey.

Erdogan’s slim 52 per cent majority will probably enlarge, rather than diminish, his single-minded aggressiveness, since he still has much to fear at home. Although he has made many Turks more prosperous and has a strong domestic economy, his politics are scaring away the chance of capital investment.

Nevertheless, bankers lend to strong men, not to wimps. Meanwhile he can afford, literally, to condescend to Greece, where the average worker pays well over 50 per cent of income in taxes – direct, indirect and social security – and the prospects of economic recovery at a national level remain remote.

Erdogan wants to get his hands on some parts of northern Syria, so he helped arm, fund, and train terrorist groups inside the war torn country to further destabilize it, hoping that once this is sufficiently accomplished that he can march down there and take whatever territory he pleases. However, once the Russians got involved, the situation got a bit more complication, and once the Americans started forming a Kurdish Coalition, Erdogan, a NATO member and ally of America, turned his guns at the US pet coalition of Kurds and is currently in the process of exterminating them, whether the US likes it or not, whether allies with Washington, or not.

This betrays the reality that Erdogan’s regime is one that can’t be trusted to abide by a given geopolitical alliance unless it is militarily enforced. That his regime is increasingly resembling a dictatorship can be gleaned from the manner in which he treats political freedom within his own country, jailing anyone who opposes his political dominance, which may artificially be maintained through his use of force or bribery. Therefore, Europe is facing a regime run by something of a dictator that could become a forceful threat if Europe can’t keep a lid on the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean.

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Archons of Greek Orthodox Church issue toothless letter about abortion law

The good news is the Archons did say some good things in reaction to the New York abortion law. But there was no consequence.

Seraphim Hanisch

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In relation to our previously published piece about Governor Andrew Cuomo signing abortion into the New York State Constitution, we noted that at the time of the article’s writing, no entities within the Orthodox Church in any jurisdiction issued any kind of statement condemning this law. Of all fourteen universally acknowledged Local Churches, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the Greek Orthodox Church was particularly of note, since their Archons awarded a humanitarian award known as the Athenogoras Award to extremely liberal, pro-abortion politicians, Andrew Cuomo being one of these.

Well, the Archons did issue a statement yesterday:

The Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Condemns New York’s New Abortion Law

The Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, strongly condemns the State of New York’s new Reproductive Health Act that was passed on January 22, 2019. This new law allows abortions up to the moment of birth and gives people who are not doctors the right to perform abortions.

The Order also deplores the celebratory atmosphere surrounding the new law, as One World Trade Center was lit pink to commemorate the passage of the law, as if it represented a great advance for the rights of women. The rights of no human being are ever advanced at the expense of another. The State of New York will not truly have respect for the rights of women until it once again restores legal protections for every human being, from his or her first moment of existence until natural death.

Hailed as progress, New York’s Reproductive Health Act is not actually an advance, but a regression, a return to a time of barbarism when the weak were at the mercy of the strong and had no protection from legal structures or governing authorities.

The Order implores New York’s legislators to reconsider this dangerous new law and reinstitute protections for all human life, no matter how weak and vulnerable. Only when such protections exist can any society truly prosper.

Rev. Alexander Karloutsos
Protopresbyter of the Ecumenical Patriarchate
Spiritual Advisor of the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle

Is this enough?

It does not seem to be so. Governor Cuomo and his award, along with pro-abortion Roman Catholic Vice President Joe Biden, also received this award at the same time Governor Cuomo did.

What did not happen in this letter was that neither politician was named, nor were the four (out of five) Greek Orthodox politicians in the New York State Assembly that voted FOR this law.

Neither did the Archons move to rescind the Athenagoras Awards they gave to Mr. Cuomo and Mr. Biden. This move appears to be still far too politically calculated, and keeping with the tragic, curious and distressing behavior of the leadership within the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Monomachos.com is a popular blog site whose editor, George Michalopulos, is undoubtedly one of the giants among those Greek Orthodox who seriously uphold at the notion that the Church ought never compromise herself. Yet, he was very happy with the letter that is shown above because for him it represented a “180-degree turnabout” in terms of the history of the Archons’ behavior, which he noted elsewhere as smacking of “the feeling that their primary job is to raise money for Istanbul.”

He neglected to mention the lack of mention of the Awards, but perhaps understandably, his surprise at any sort of traditional statement by this group was leading to exuberance where perhaps it is not deserved.

The Greek Orthodox Church seems to have an overall alignment with very liberal figures, and it is unclear as to why. But this tendency of people that are considered good and faithful Greek Orthodox churchgoers to align with liberal politics in the United States is very different than the sharply conservative tendencies of Russian Orthodox churchgoers, or Greeks or Romanians in the US.

The other rather liberal church is the US is the Orthodox Church in America, but this group does tend to involve itself in social causes in the US – especially abortion – in a very conservative, if rather feeble, manner. They do make their presence known at the annual March for Life and this is of great value.

We wish to name all the Greek Orthodox elected New York assembly members here, with their votes regarding the state abortion measure:

Michael Gianaris             (D) (co-sponsor)   – Yes.
Andrew Gounardes         (D) (co-sponsor)   – Yes.
Nicole Malliotakis           (R)                            – No. (and she is a woman!!)
Aravella Simotas             (D)                            – Yes.
James Skoufis                  (D) (co-sponsor)   – Yes.

This measure enshrined abortion at any point in a woman’s pregnancy as a constitutional right. The law stipulates several following procedures are now “rights:”

  • The law allows non-physicians to perform abortions.
  • The law allows abortion through the third trimester.
  • and the law repeals protections for babies that survive abortions (this means that if the baby gets delivered alive, it will still be killed.)

This is a barbaric law, and a resounding victory for people aligned with some very dark ideas about life and death. It is a tragedy, and while the Archons’ letter condemning it is at least a token statement, it really wants a full-throated response from the Christian world.

In fact, even Muslims and religious Jewish people ought to be outraged as well. All the Abrahamic religions understand that only God is the author of life. In this viewpoint, people do not themselves create life. We only cooperate with God to bring it into existence, by his blessing.

But we can cause death, and this power is influenced by forces that are not interested in God, traditional values, family, children or anything of the sort.

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Greek MPs pass Prespes deal with 153 votes in 300-seat House

Opinion polls indicate that most Greeks oppose the settlement, a fact which may not bode well for Tsipras in an election year.

The Duran

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Via Ekathimerini


Greece’s parliament on Friday ratified a landmark accord that changes the name of neighbouring Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), ending a decades-old dispute and opening the way for the ex-Yugoslav republic to join the European Union and NATO.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who hammered out the deal with his FYROM counterpart last year, secured the parliamentary majority needed to get the accord approved with support from independent and opposition lawmakers.

“Today we are writing a new page for the Balkans. The hatred of nationalism and conflict is giving way to friendship, peace, and cooperation,” Tsipras wrote on his social media account.

FYROM has already ratified the deal, brokered last year, and its prime minister promptly sent a tweet hailing the Greek parliament’s vote.

The settlement seeks to end a 28-year old row between Athens and Skopje over the use of the term “Macedonia” by renaming the tiny Balkan state “Republic of North Macedonia” to differentiate it from Greece’s northern province of Macedonia.

Greece’s European Union allies welcomed the ratification.

“They had imagination, they took the risk, they were ready to sacrifice their own interests for the greater good,” European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted. “Mission impossible accomplished.”

Opinion polls indicate that most Greeks oppose the settlement, a fact which may not bode well for Tsipras in an election year. A general election is due by October, and his party is trailing the opposition New Democracy by up to 12 points.

The debate in the Greek parliament was heated, with voting almost interrupted on Friday when an MP for the right-wing Golden Dawn Party, asked to cast his vote, responded: “No to treason!”

Several MPs in favour of of the accord reported attempts to intimidate them.

Many Greeks fear the agreement could lead to territorial claims against Greece and say it constitutes an appropriation of their country’s ancient cultural heritage. Macedonia was the birthplace of Alexander the Great.

Protests against the deal have at times turned violent this week, and on Thursday evening police fired teargas to disperse crowds outside parliament. Smaller groups of people braved heavy rain on Friday to demonstrate outside the parliament.

New Democracy slammed the agreement.

“This deal should never have been signed or brought to parliament for ratification,” party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis told parliament. “It is a national defeat … a national blunder that is an affont to the truth and history of our country.”

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