Europe in crisis.
For centuries Turkey, Greece and Russia have been at each other’s throats. Great Empires with never to be forgotten histories, all three living today on memories, their economies under threat*. But coping with one’s past, that is the way of great empires and it is the challenge of their foreign policy to do so elegantly, whatever the hatreds of the past or the nationalistic obsessions of these three strategically critical and imperiled countries.
Russia is the empty vessel it has always been – a poster child not for the potential success of communism but for its despotic failure. Average net salary is $550 for its 144 million citizens – it is contemplating an economic crisis with the collapse of oil. Putin sees the eastern Mediterranean as one route to destabilizing Europe. Erdogan is driving Turkey’s moves to oil independence, becoming the fundamentalist Islamic State and resisting the flow of North African immigrants likely this summer and next. Greece, its main historical adversary now has a failing economy and is threatened with chaos as the first port of call for the inevitably growing flood of migrants. It almost won a Nobel prize in 2015 for its humanity in treating North Africans fleeing war and climate change. All that has changed. The good people of Lesbos can take no more. Athens does not want to be the rubbish dump of Europe.
Watch for more vigilante gangs attacking migrants; look for Turkey building its presence in the Aegean, flexing its muscles in Libya and refusing also to be the immigrant collection area. And Russia? – Putin will revel in anything that can disrupt the long resented success of capitalism in western Europe. This is the pressure cooker for the crisis in Europe. The corona virus will not help any. Either the pandemic or this Russian, Turkish, Greek trifecta of mistrust will lead to collapse.
Have a good day, James