Dukakis Center hosts round-table on Greek-Turkish-US relations
In a unique exercise in track-two diplomacy, the Dukakis Center and the Center for International and European Studies at Kadir Has University in Istanbul (CIES) co-hosted a round table on Friday, May 18, on geopolitics in the Aegean, with a particular focus on the triangular Greek-Turkish-US relationship.
An all-star panel of scholars from Kadir Has and select Greek universities set the stage for an understanding of Greek-Turkish, and Turkish-Greek, bilateral relations. Notable was the revelation that very few academic programs exist in Turkish and Greek universities with a formal focus on the neighboring country. Co-organizer Dimitris Triantafyllou, the director of CIES, observed that Kadir Has is an exception in this regard, where Greek and Turkish scholars collaborate pedagogically on a daily basis.
So mentioned was the fact that while Greeks may seem preoccupied by their Aegean neighbors, for many Turks Greece does not rank particularly high as friend or foe. Rather, in popular opinion, if not in policy circles, Israel is now seen to be a major rival, while Russia is felt by many to be Turkey’s closest friend; such was pointed out by Mustapha Aydin, President of the International Relations Council of Turkey.
Overt criticism was generally minimal. Characteristic was the tone adopted by Pavlos Apostolides, former Director of Greek National Intelligence, whose intervention was at once precise and understated. One exception came in the presentation by John Koenig, former US Ambassador to Cyprus, who expressed his fear that long-time allies Turkey and the United States seemed to be drifting apart.
The prevailing mood was rather one of accommodation and mutual understanding, as befits a landmark event with preeminent speakers. As one observer noted, there is a reason to be optimistic about the state of Greek-Turkish relations in particular, despite certain current and long-standing concerns.
The Dukakis Center, ACT, and Anatolia College have organized many events on local and regional affairs, featuring speakers such as Elizabeth Prodromou, Van Coufoudakis, Suhnaz Yilmaz, Van Coufoudakis, Alvaro de Soto, Heath Lowry, and Kostas Ifantis.
In attendance at the event were Giorgos Paschalides, former Minister of Macedonia-Thrace; Spyros Pengas, Deputy Mayor for International Relations; and William McGrew, former President of Anatolia College.