Thursday, July 06, 2006

Games over the Aegean Sea

This is an article published in the last issue of the Ovi magazine - Ovi lehti

For over thirty years there has been a war on the borders of Europe that nobody wants to admit. For thirty years, generations of Greeks and Turks are waiting for one thing, the day they will wake up and have to run into a war. For thirty years, war games leading to madness and the result of all that is something we saw a few weeks ago over the Aegean Sea.

For thirty years the people of both countries are just losing. There is no winner in this war. Both peoples are losing their chances for a better tomorrow investing everything in weaponry and defense systems, into airplanes that each cost the same as both countries spend for education. Turkey suffers more than all that. A country with sky high inflation and a society under change with problems in every sector - please I don't want any mails for Turkey, for proof just read the online English version of Turkey's newspapers or check the international financial organizations.

Much worst, the whole thing is not only costing money and is a barrier in front of the improvement of both countries, but it costs human lives as the latest incident has shown. What happened a few weeks ago had been predicted for a long time now and actually everybody was surprised how it had never happened till now.

When tens of fully-armed war planes take off with only seconds warning nearly every hour from both countries and engage in war games and maneuvers over the Aegean Sea it is certain that something will happen one way or another. With the frequency these things happen they have definitely crossed any line in statistics involving air accidents and it is a wonder how nothing has come out yet concerning the pilots' stress, physical or mental health.

There are differences between the two countries. A few months ago we found that there are differences between Canada and Denmark; there is the Cyprus issue that, to my opinion, is an embarrassment for the international community and the EU, having a part of a member country under occupation, but this is the reason the international community created the international courts.

The cost of human life, any human life is much higher than the national and occasionally chauvinistic pride.

What happened over the Aegean Sea? A Turkish RF-4 spy plane was flying to Crete to photograph the defense system of the Greek island and was accompanied by two Turkish F-16s. The reaction from the Greek defense forces was natural, yet the question lays elsewhere. Why did an ally country, a fellow member of the same alliance NATO and candidate for the EU send a spy plane into an ally's airspace? Would it be normal if the French did the same with England or Germany? What would have happened if Finland had sent a spy plane over Sweden? What's the meaning of actions like that?

If Turkey feels threatened or that it has rights that Greece ignores, why didn't they go to the international court in Hague? If Turkey thinks that they have the right to expand their airspace borders everywhere, especially in the Black Sea, from six miles to ten miles, but then thinks that Greece does not have the same right in Aegean Sea, they can go to the international court in The Hague.

Both countries paid the cost of a few who cannot see clear into the future, but live in the past. As I have said from the beginning, the worst part is the cost of human life. In my opinion, both countries have to do something and soon before something more dramatic happens. Turkey has to stop all these dangerous games and if they feel that Greece is not right they should go to the international court in The Hague. The Greeks should stop complaining to the EU council and the UN, complaints that after thirty years nobody bothers to read anymore, and just go to the international court in The Hague.

Ending I'd like to add something from personal experience. I grew up in the middle of this period with Cyprus very alive in my memories and what happened then, I did my national service in the Greek army, a very tense period that nearly led to another war between Greece and Turkey. Since I was a kid, Turkey and war were combined in my mind and I went through phases to finalize with me saying out loud, "Well, if a war is to happen, let's do it." Some will be killed, but at least it will be peace in the end. The whole thing scared me then when I said it and it scares me now I'm writing about it. A solution has to be found here and now, in no way I want my kid to think the same thing, never again.

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