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Mediterranean Quarterly 14.1 (2003) 92-95
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Christodoulos K. Yiallourides and Panayotis J. Tsakonas, editors: Greece and Turkey after the End of the Cold War. New York and Athens: Aristide D. Caratzas, 2001. 498 pages. ISBN 0-89241-564-9. $30.00 paper.
Few modern observers would deny that Greece and Turkey have had a long and particularly prickly relationship. Like other notable historical rivalries between neighboring countries, such as France and Germany, Spain and Portugal, Russia and China, or even India and Pakistan, the relationship between Greece and Turkey is unique. Not only is the baggage of history particularly heavy between these nominal North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies, but both countries form an important geostrategic nexus in the eastern Mediterranean. There, the continents of Europe, Asia, and Africa join together; the Islamic East meets the Christian West; precious oil and gas reserves from the Caspian Sea region are transported to Europe; and critical forward bases exist from which the United States and its Western allies have launched military strikes against Iraq and deterred any aggressive nation, such as Iran, that might wish to upset the balance of power in the Middle East. Indeed, academics such as Samuel Huntington have pointed to the region as a primary battleground for the so-called clash of civilizations. In light of the post-11 September world and the current war on terrorism, the geopolitical importance of the eastern Mediterranean, and particularly that of Turkey, the world's only Muslim democracy with a Western orientation, is critical to the United States and its Western allies. Given what is at stake in the region, Western observers must keep a watchful eye on any new developments in the relationship between Greece and Turkey.
During the Cold War, these two countries could barely contain their competitive relationship, which nearly boiled over into open warfare in July and August 1974 when [End Page 92] Turkey invaded the small, though strategically important, island of Cyprus. While the superpower competition between the United States and the Soviet Union dampened the possibility of an open Greek-Turkish confrontation, relations between Athens and Ankara have grown increasingly complex after the end of the Cold War. Cyprus, today a front-running candidate for membership in the European Union, remains a divided island. The crises in the Balkans and the breakup of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s again put Greece and Turkey on opposite sides of the political divide. While Turkey was sending aid to fellow Muslims in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania, and Kosovo during some of the bloodiest fighting seen on the European continent since the Second World War, Greece was lending political, economic, and moral support to fellow Orthodox Christian Serbia and the regime of Slobodan Milosovic. Greece is also at odds with Turkey as it defends its sovereignty over the tiny islet of Imia in the International Court of Justice in The Hague and builds a strong case that Turkish airplanes have all too frequently violated Greek airspace. These issues, and many other facets of the complicated Greek-Turkish relationship today, form the basis for the ambitious and important volume coedited by Christodoulos Yiallourides and Panayotis Tsakonas.
This book is divided thematically into four broad sections: political culture and foreign affairs, strategy and foreign policy, specific issues, and systemic factors. All of the contributions are by ethnically Greek academics, save the foreword by Ian O. Lesser of the RAND Corporation and a chapter on the U.S. perspective of "Greece and Turkey in the Post-Cold War Era" by former United States ambassador to Greece Monteagle Stearns. A Turkish, and in some cases a Russian, or even Israeli, perspective would have been helpful. Nevertheless, most of the contributors to this weighty volume have a decent grasp on the many issues that run through the bilateral Greek-Turkish relationship.
One of the strongest chapters in this book is by Gerassimos Karabelias, who presents an excellent introduction to the important, and all too often decisive, role of the military in Turkish politics. Given that many foreign observers do not fully appreciate...