[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] F [/yt_dropcap]ascism is in full sweep around us. Writing about the ruins that left behind it, is the task of our time. Maybe it is the most important task, because we must not remain silent! Disaster of (human) policy is in practice, but we are hardly surprised.
Every statement around us which denies the possibility of existence of Bosnia, is essentially fascist howling of a monster that is trying to be covered up by diplomatic phrases about democracy of our next-door neighbours from Belgrade and Zagreb. Politicians, their followers and spokesmen, media experts, semi-conscious girls in military uniforms with rifles in their hands, folk singers with microphones, masses captivated by politicians who encourage them to hatred, the poor in shelters of demolished cities, dead children on the streets, big and small dictators, Muslims who try to take off from their faces the terrorists label while they are bombarded by the aircrafts of civilized world – they all together tempt again the evil of fascist destruction of the world, only today at a higher technical level.
Media lead us directly to the streets of Syrian cities that were bombed and destroyed by the Western allies aviation, the Russian military and local forces. Not so long ago, almost yesterday, Serbian guns were destroyed Sarajevo, Konjic, Mostar, Bihac, Gorazde, Olovo, Srebrenica and killed civilians, innocent citizens. Serbian criminals turned the cities into military targets. The cities in which the Bosniaks were the majorities. In other cities they were exterminated and “humanely” moved out, for example, from Trebinje to Scandinavia. In the large crime of Serbian politics, which is developed by SANU (Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts) and supported by SPC (Serbian Orthodox Church), the cities in Bosnia became the target of Serbian criminals on the way of a large “Serbian state” building, where it is never existed. Serbian war strategy made the “legitimate targets” of the cities – because the Bosniaks live there! In that way, the half of Bosnia has been occupied. The cities have become battlefields. The urban culture and spirit have been destroyed. The destruction of urbanity is in practice. Media recorded the terrible images of death and human evil … Media recorded ..
In the European tradition, the man is meant in different ways. The man is being determined as a zoon logon echon, as animal rationale, it is like a living being who has language and mind, being who as a social being lives in the community with his equal. For centuries we believed that rational being respects speech and intelligence, all those things that philosophers from Plato’s State and Kratil to Wittgenstein’s theory of meaning and Sprachspiele talked about.
But people have the ability to abandon all considerations and allow themselves to be infected by ephemerality, nastiness, ideologies. The idea of greed that defines our age is defined by the conservative view of the world. It helps the dominance of consumerism. It rejected every possible sense of the idea of equality among people and recognition of human characteristics. The greed is preferred in it, without mercy and compassion towards each other. It has all kinds of fundamentalism and exclusivity. The capitalist greed for profit is in it. In it there is the power of insane generals and mighty armies that are driven by sick minds. The domination of the fascist forces has become normal in it. The hatred has become characteristic in it. From everywhere, they speak and order: “Stop thinking, stop thinking!” In all this the media has been involved…
Gone are the days when we have thought, deliberated. But, unfortunately, the time “when philosophers like Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, Michel Foucault or Jean-François Lyotard said about contemporary events or suggestions that they would have done to improve things that were considered important – belongs to the past.
Nowadays, even those who imitate the behaviour of the philosopher, who have pushed out the philosophers in the 1970s, they have compensated themselves have by entertainers and models, football players and boxers. “(A. Badiou / S. Žižek, Philosophy in the Present)
It must be admitted that the models look better, and football players run ‘faster’ then philosophers! From those dangerous displaced philosophers.
We must not ignore it at all!? The media have hidden critical intellectuals from the scene, pushed them, darken them and offered us manipulators who explain that we need to be serfs of capital, banks, financial funds, elite, leaders, generals… The corrupt deceivers every night mislead us by false claims that we need to be nobody and nothing. The media help to maintain the state of captivity in the ghetto, in the “closed society”, in the cage. The media “help” us to forget Bosnia…
Hence, could we write about the ruins, about collapsed architecture of the world, refer to the right to think of our destiny while from all sides deny to us the sense of philosophical attitude in the present, manly courage in front of the world that the capitalists and fascists led before the abysses of the human. Alein Badiou is trying to write a manifesto for philosophy.
We are not aware that an attempt to kill Bosnia will define our life and thinking. Trying to delete Bosnia from the face of the world, is the question of sense of Europe. It has been clear long ago that this issue exceeds the Serbo-Croatian historiography performances, small rural constructions of frustrated tribes, their ridiculous myths, folk singing of mountain-dwellers, nebulous ideas about their own place in history… But they have not still confronted with their crimes as human beings. This confrontation is waiting for them till doomsday, to the their beliefs, at the beginning of each new day when should be built some new human form.
This confrontation cannot be avoided or substituted by some form of art, a novel, something like Andric’s novel Bridge over the Drina River, which can be used to escape into the false image of history in order to pushed aside the crimes against Bosniaks in World War II, ignored them and forgotten them. And also, that the history of Bosnia can be forged and focused people’s attention on the other side
Literary, novelistic fiction, the work of contemplation, it is offered as a historical truth! However, it is escapism. Therefore, the panel-warning on the Town hall has a moral sense because it tells us that the criminals from the Serbian people have burned the house of knowledge and killed citizens from the surrounding hills. This is the truth that liberates. So, we have to pass through the ruins. After that, nothing will be the same for us. Let’s make Bosnia free of primitive ethno-religious nationalism which the media serve to it…
After all, our confidence in mind has remained. We have fallen into the flow “from solid to liquid” (Z. Bauman) and lost orientation. Around us echoes the authoritarian cacophony – Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer – and we do not understand what this means! We disappear in fog.
Image for the public
The undertaking to “shape the world in the image for the public” (M. Heidegger) through the media, books, proceedings, conferences, political manifesto, the party’s programs, Nobel Prize winners literary works and then, this image becomes obliging for all others, leads us to almost hopeless position that shows us the forgery, simplifying, reducing and destruction of the contents of the world that we live in.
Afterwards, it is shown that we already have available finished images, constructed images of the world and experiences, simulations and bad copies, but not our own opinion about the world that opens up the world to another dimension, in addition to simple performance on us as subjects who have mastered the world as a subject that we must subordinate and exploit for its untamable needs. Modern Aged, Cartesian image of the world as an object which approaches the subject to it with its intellect and instruments, has suffered a dramatic criticism and transformations during the last hundred years, and it must continue to transform in the direction of love for the world in which we live. Adaequatio rei et intellectus goes with it, as well as the metaphysical realism of “appearance” of the spirit that we must overcome. The man is seen as a camera that “objectively” shoots the world… A man just constructs media image…
The media are emerging as a threat for our freedom. They dramatically wider cultural pessimism, xenophobia and policy of divergence. The fascist tendencies are pouring from them, ethno-foulism and impassioned sermons on life meaning. The boundaries between fiction and reality or fictional form and actuality disappear without explanation and leveled every form of rationality in the mud of fascism. It has been already seen by Adorno, Lowenthal, Horkheimer, Benjamin, Marcuse and others. We have splashed again by a wave of fascistoid infection, that monstrous that has appeared in the past that we have not overcome and ennobled as people (unbewältigte Vergangenheit / unmastered past), the past which we could not obey to the man and his values.
Unbeaten ghosts of the past are trying to push us into migration again, into the new emigration, the escape into a hidden corner of the world where the fascists cannot reach us. They are trying to prepare for us a new genocide, murder, dehumanization. But there is no more space for migration and running away – finally we have to face with the Serbian Nazis and fascists! The crisis of capitalism and liberal democracy always opens the space to small then to large fascists around us. Usually, most people are not aware and do not notice when the fascists grab them and harness to the crazy circle of crimes. The media have real criminal role in it…
Our media are provincial. The media are the culmination of an enlightened false consciousness. Sloterdijk denounces them with special pleasure. Guillotine has survived in them. Media lynch as a “proof” of guilt of the accused is the means of prosecutors and conspiracy groups that do not have public responsibility. That is the main method of political disqualification of opponents. Media campaigns are the “evidence” of guilt. Manipulation of public spirit is shown as irresponsibility, incompetence, ignorance and danger for the system.
They asked Umberto Eco: “Do the journalists have the role in stopping of conspiracy ?, and he said: – Journalists must help to prevent the rule of lies and manipulation. This should be one of their struggles, while preserving critical spirit alive, and avoiding standardization of thought “.
The journalists have been transformed into “soldiers” of organized interest groups in the social structure. They behave as the loyal soldiers of leaders and their clique that rotate. The media, unfortunately, do not work for citizens around the world. The media, the secret police or the prosecution services often work together under one political hat against citizens. They manipulate the citizens from the position of financial interest groups dealing with top-grade transactions and serve to a few in society. The poor pays everything eventually. In Bosnia, Syria, or who knows where tomorrow?
The media has taken in hands the role of creator of our reality. With its superficial power of judgment, they formed millions of forms and contents of the people’s minds who move into unconsciousness of their own existence, not knowing the meaning of their lives. They, almighty and all-shaping media, create confusion that cannot be treated or removed. They create terror more than it can be expressed by referencing to the word simulacrum and much more than that can be daily consumed. They can wage wars, rob the countries, exterminate the nations, they can make spectacle from crime, they can mislead as much as you please… And they think they are innocent!
In fact, the media are there to carry out the post-war rehabilitation of the area, subsidence of soil, levelling of horror, relativizing of evil, rehabilitation of war criminals… They are just the extended arm of the ruling policy. The media are there to deceive us and left dazed for the next day. The media give space to local fascists, neo-Nazis, nationalists, misanthropy, bums, primitives and similar creatures that infect the public. And that lasts for decades.
Media collaboration in spreading of hatred and evil among people, cannot be presented at all by rational means. Madmen present the criminal political programs, and the media follow and support them. They transmit their words, using them as exclusive news, scandalous insane appearances due to better viewers rating and profit. This is the simple essence of irresponsible media structures. The media teach us to “tuck tail under” and gather in our corner, to accept the “peremptory set” of systemic attitudes in which we are trapped. Media “teach” us that there is no rebellion…
Lies of the media (II)
Meaningless populist campaigns sputter around us. Politicians scream from all sides and promise “golden spoons for common people”. People have become phlegmatic, indifferent, tired from the promises. Citizens live passages as from Adorno’s book Minima moralia. Logic disappears in speech. People are talking nonsense. Babble. Trash. They are frustrated and outraged. Only some of them still considers the moral issues of human endeavour. There is no reference to the ethic of responsibility and moral attitude in human matters. On the scene are the “priests” and politicians who are not able to keep like male and knight in front of serious things of life, but they escape into the empty “height” or “bottom”, it does not matter.
Endlessly, the media provide the repetition of lies, they provide the duration of the controlled society and choking of critical consciousness. They have the truth that is transmitted by authorities. For decades, they hide questions and possible answers. They do not ask one of the most important questions initiated by Dervis Susic: “Do you know anything about yourself? Let’s say, who you are, i.e. we, Bosniaks? It must be known!” Do we know who is Avdo Međedović, at all -“A singer who talks”? What means to us “Bosniak’s Homer”? If Husein Basic is right, then Avdo is too big for us or for our powers of understanding? How did we reach this condition? Where did we get from our vocabulary of undefined beings? What are the curricula in the education system? Moreover, the media teach us the emptiness, the silence, the worthlessness of their own existence.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) warned at the end of 2016 that some species that were not on the list of endangered ones, have become the part of the list of endangered species. It happens noticeable reduction of giraffes and African gray parrots in the wilderness. Horrible, indeed? Also, it is endangered the leopard, they assume that only 7100 leopards have remained in wilderness. The animal protectors have slogans: I’d rather go naked than wear wool. Wear your own skin! Let animals keep theirs. Let’s protect animals if we cannot protect people. The slogans of fighters for animals protection peal everywhere, but in the same time, small people are eradicated because of their names, language or belief.
Where are Rohinja people who are Muslims? Does anybody think of them while the Nobel Peace Prize is given? Do entity “RS” on the ground of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina is not a result of the crime of genocide? The “priests” of genocide and guards of its results are the ones who would continue the same “job”, wouldn’t they ? Can the media and media cynicism make of that crime the humanist fairytale about the man’s “will”? Immoral human figures tell us that the genocidal creation “RS” on the ground / territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina is “the result of the will of the Serbian people”. What a juristic formulation?! The media help the rising of this “truth”, especially media predators with their destructive content in which the public is experienced as an animal farm.
The media shamelessly deceive and contribute to decline of public morality into the mud of ethnic-nationalist images of the world which can be best understood as Kačavenda-shape idolatry in the heart of fascism. Media bravely return and lead us to the Middle Ages, in the empire of crusade, priests and local rulers, among dogmatized protocols of life and octroyed algorithms of truth, but we must not forget that they only serve to certain policies and have to implement it. Therefore, the media operation is turned into a mechanism that should be objectified the possibility of civilizations wars as a new spectacle – as if the army do not fight with political and economic interests behind them.
The media, unfortunately, are caught in the net of power and it is not hard to serve it, because they are the source of funds to maintain the system. In Bosnia, most of the media (public radio and television broadcasters) are paid by citizens – hence, citizens pay them to be oriented by the media. The media participate in the general moral degradation and education of the population, that shower them with their information and programs.
Such as the industry of beauty maniacally exploits the sense of human beauty, just as well the cynicism of legal system perverts the meaning of law and justice among people. Corrupt prosecutors, police officers, judges, businessmen, at every step destroy the system and order in society. Nowadays, primitive aesthetics and law are the only reflexes of one horrible process in which the human existence is systemic destroyed on all sides of mankind. It seems that the process is complementary in which modern technology destroys human life by shutting off a movement in it, action, thought, dynamics, resulting in autism, with processes ghettoisation and atomization that people for the purposes of capitalism and organized control. Burning Aleppo is in the media image, as if Sarajevo used to be, under the watchful eye of the UN and world forces. Graham Bamford shines in my Bosnian heart.
Lies in media reports
The media in the hands of corporate capitalism pelt us by messages, information, products, offers. We are choking and losing support in everyday life. “Children of the rich cannot play rock and roll” – the warning of officers’ sons of failed army! We need to start thinking about a new definition of a man and the key terms of human life. The great transformation is in progress, an epochal turn of all that we have conceived as a people.
Eva Bartlett, an independent Canadian journalist and human rights fighter, all around the world, warned in her speech at the UN that the sources from the ground mislead mainstream media, i.e. these sources are compromised and are not credible at all. The image that comes through their reports to the public all around the world is a false image and not corresponds to the state of things on the ground. Corporate media fabricate the reality, deceive the public, adapt their reports to the interests of the big players, fabricate “fake news / story”, recycle the testimony, so that everything you read is the opposite to the reality. Bartlett warns that the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) is located in Coventry led by the authority of one man who “receives” information from so-called White helmets. Image from Syria, therefore, was under the control of corporate and compromised media.
We are led by financial institutions through debt for borrowed money. The rulers of the 21st century will be the semi-educated and uncultivated, barbarians without shame who are pride of their vulgar manners and ignorance, self-satisfied demimonde. They control the money flows and subordinate the debtors. And media serve to it… We will know all about this today when this is important to no one, when we wouldn’t remember criminals and politicians from Belgrade no more, from that dark city. The media will insidiously level Serbian chauvinists crimes and patriotic struggle of the Bosnian people for their survival. As if we are stupid, they still sell us the Yugoslavianism, the old Serbian hegemony and narration, those old and empty speakers of existence without identity… Anti-Bosnian forces are strategically put people on positions in the system and they deliberately disintegrate the state. They attack all the points of the Bosnian state, which make them the resistance – or bribe them with money and escort-ladies or set them the “dance”. They have at the disposal the means and resources. They do it by means of the police and secret police services, the judiciary and prosecution, paid media and corrupt journalists, ministries of this and that, embassies and no one is trying to stop them.
Numerous media are in the service of destruction of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Genocidal creation on the territory of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina is the work of the Milosevic’s regime which is on the ruins of Yugoslavia tried to create a Greater Serbia. The identical plan had Tudjman’s regime, but handle with velvet gloves. The evidence of it is in the top analysis by Cyril Ribičić about the project HZHB. The complicity of the media in the profanation of our social life is boundless, shameful and invaluable. The media, of course, will never take this responsibility because they remind us to the children who go round like sparrows that tweet from the rooftops, but they are not able to learn the lessons given and do not like the lecture. They never feel the guilt and do not take responsibility.
Media show us that they are the heart of the simulacrum and ideological one-sidedness of the society with no choice. They are callously involved in people liquidation who were aimed from the political opponents. The ignorance and indifference come out of them. Journalists repeat ideological matrix, they do not differentiate the meanings, they do not know the old definitions and do not want to learn the new ones, they speak language that conceals rather than reveals social processes, irresponsibly refer to the words, do not have time for language consolidation and clarification of terms, because they are connected to police, secret services, companies, party’s secretaries and leaders. They must fulfil their requirements. They have to satisfy divergent interests and that it all seems “logical” – and that certainly cannot be logical. But citizens? (Nota bene. The growing children need to know that the Army of the Republic in Bosnia Herzegovina was not “so-called” – it was legendary and the only legal military force of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina that got up to save the state of a double aggression of Milosevic and Tudjman’s regime. The media in B&H today transfer the deceits from Belgrade media-propaganda and intelligence circles that someone who is legally defended their country “so-called.” Such morbidity comes from the heart of fascism. The truth is not proved by means of reveal a lie of fascism or it is not true to prove a lie of fascism.) Citizens should be protected from forgery!
The right-wing hook has raised against Bosnia as a unique state and began peddled morbid attitudes on “three of Bosnia”, certainly ethnic-religious fragmented. This is just a continuation of anti-Bosnian hegemonic criminal ideas that cause war and suffering. Still the media are at the service of the fascist attitude towards Bosnia of Great Croatian and the Great Serbian discriminatory arrangement. Thereby, the media openly advocate the right-wing hatred, exclusion, xenophobia, ethno-foulism, they are silent on the constitutional discrimination, support the society of ignoramus, they create the fake image. The media deceive us and lead to the situation to leave rational behaviour and accept something that we have not yet understood, but the next moment we can see that it is disastrous for us. Meanwhile, the media have earned billions of dollars and their owners are rubbing their hands without thinking whether it is dangerous or good for people that have supported a sick fascist to come to power. Therefore, there is not intellectuality in the media, the understanding or superior thinking, because their goal is the manipulation of mediocrity that dominates on the historical scene. Media deception is only the consequence of the old ideological deception of Bosnia that began at the end of the 19th century and continued until our time in many false narratives.
Bangladesh-UK strategic dialogue: Significance in the post-Brexit era
On September 12th, Bangladesh and the UK held their fifth strategic dialogue. The future of Bangladesh’s ties to the United Kingdom in the wake of Brexit has been the subject of much conjecture. Analysts questioned Dhaka’s duty-free access to Britain, which has been generous to an LDC economy like Bangladesh’s, as the UK prepared for its exit from the EU. However, the United Kingdom and Bangladesh have weathered these worries quite well. Rather, the statement by FCDO Permanent Under-Secretary Sir Philip Barton during the dialogue, sums up the strength of Bangladesh-UK relations in current times- “The Dialogue is a reflection of the growing relationship between our two countries, and our desire to work together more closely on our economic, trade and development partnerships and on regional and global security issues.”
Dhaka and London are having a great year on cooperation and connectivity. In the post Brexit era, the year 2023 seems like to be the year that will shift the ties between these countries from a bilateral partnership to each other’s crucial strategic partner in the current geo-politics.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina went to participate in the formal inauguration of the new King Charles III of the United Kingdom earlier this year. UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had only good things to say about Bangladesh during the visit. This is also reflected in London’s post-pandemic approach to Dhaka.
Bangladesh-UK held their first ever defense dialogue in March of 2022 where they discussed various ways of strengthening cooperation including defense, security and trade and climate change. This year started with the second Bangladesh-UK Trade and Investment Dialogue on February. Both the UK and Bangladesh agreed during the discussion that they would want to enhance their trade connection in order to increase their prosperity. This discussion was followed by signing an agreement on March for working together in climate action bilaterally and multilaterally to help deliver the outcomes of COP26 and COP27.
UK’s Indo-Pacific Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan signed the doctrine during her visit to Bangladesh which also signifies UK’s understanding of Bangladesh’s geostrategic importance in the Bay of Bengal and in the Indian Ocean.
So, this dialogue was surely a much anticipated one among the foreign ministries of these countries.
The provisional agenda included the state visit of President Mohammed Shahabuddin to the United Kingdom in November and the possible visit of British King Charles III (Charles Philip Arthur George) to Bangladesh in 2024. Other than that bilateral trade, investment, and market opportunities; migration, mobility and a new visa scheme for students are expected to be at the top of the agenda. Discussions on the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the Rohingya crisis will also be featured.
The more complex agendas this year include discussions on mutual legal assistance and the extradition of convicted persons.
But Bangladesh has failed to gain an extradition treaty with UK. Although both countries agreed to constitute a joint working group to discuss migration, mobility and mutual recognition of qualifications, and agreed to sign a standard operating procedure (SOP) on returns of Bangladesh nationals in irregular situations in the UK.
The discussions regarding extradition issues if was fruitful, it might have helped the government to bring fugitives to national justice finally. Except this, the strategic dialogues between these countries in recent years have usually brought deep discussions and decisions on bilateral issues.
On the first of this strategic dialogue was in 2017, the issue of defense purchase was discussed- a much needed ground setting for the Forces Goals 2030 of Bangladesh. On the last edition of this dialogue, held in London back in 2021, the UK pledge to extend duty-free, quota-free access to its market until 2029, aiming to facilitate Bangladesh’s export-led growth.
Not only that, UK also added Bangladesh’s name to the list of the Developing Countries Trading Scheme (DCTS) where the country will experience a more simplified regulation system and reduced tariffs on its products entering the UK. This only adds to UK’s commitment towards Bangladesh’s development – where the country is already one of the biggest developing partners of Bangladesh.
UK’s such generosity towards Bangladesh isn’t only because of the benevolence of its heart. The country is now out of the shell of EU, certainly has to widen its reach across other regions. Indo-Pacific is its preferred place to start.
Bangladesh’s geostrategic location between China and the Indian Ocean with its advantage of having a gate way to Southeast Asia makes Bangladesh seemingly the perfect candidate for UK’s strategic interests. Both countries have also announced their Indo-pacific policies which focuses mainly on their economic aspirations. With such resonating goals for the region, the countries can definitely build a bigger stage of collaboration with each other.
The countries used this occasion as the pinnacle of their further economic cooperation as Bangladesh and the UK have agreed to create new institutional cooperation to promote business, trade, investment and are considering signing a new MoU on economic cooperation. They also discussed potential increase of cooperation and capacity building on global and regional security issues of mutual interest, including maritime and blue economy goals in the Bay of Bengal in the Indian Ocean.
The UK also announced a further £3m contribution to the Rohingya response, taking its total contribution since 2017 to £368m.
Another important discussion was on defense and cooperation where UK expressed its interest in selling advanced weapons to Bangladesh for protecting its air and maritime territory.
UK already recognizes Bangladesh as a critical stability provider in the Indo-Pacific and as both the countries have played their cards right, one could argue that bilateral ties are stronger than ever before. The dialogue has served as a further golden thread binding their visionary future together.
Greece-UAE Relations through a Personal Lens
Bilateral relations between two countries are cultivated over time through shared values, partnerships, as well as common strategic interests and concerns. This is the case between UAE and Greece, as described below as per my personal experience.
As part of the bilateral military cooperation, the F-16s of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) came to Crete and trained with the Greek crews in the operational environment of the Eastern Mediterranean. Emirates aircraft have also frequently flied from Greece during operations in Libya.
Any strategic analyst, in order to study, understand and then successfully analyse the complex issues of the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East, should have visited the countries in the region and should have exchanged views with their citizens and experts.
I visited the UAE as a member of the Greek delegation of the Ministry of Defence, but also, I was member of the team hosting the UAE military delegations in Greece, for the signing of the annual bilateral military cooperation programs.
The First Official Experience.
The first official visit to the UAE was my participation, as a representative of the Greek Ministry of National Defence, in IDEX-2001 (International Defence Exhibition & Conference). The entire event was held under the patronage of Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. The hospitality was excellent with accommodation at the Abu Dhabi Officers Club which is an impressive building with a bat-shaped architectural design, with hydro-cultures in the inner corridors and wonderful gardens in the surrounding area.
At my disposal was a luxurious white car with the Greek flag on the windshield and an officer of the Emirates Air Force as my escort. This officer had studied for ten years in the United States, attending professional development Training Schools. He was an outstanding professional with military training and strategic thinking.
During a break in the scheduled activities of the Exhibition, the attendant offered to give me a “surprise” as he called it and show me something that connects the UAE and Greece. I accepted the challenge. We visited a small harbour in the north, where colourful boats from Iran were moored. Merchandise was spread out on the dock and on the boats, creating a great bazaar like a flea market. The strange thing was that around this peculiar bazaar there were iron bars and a strong police presence.
My escort explained: “we have serious problems with Iran, but we wish to maintain good relations with Iranian citizens through trade. For this reason, we allow this trade bazaar to be organized at regular intervals”.
Relations between UAE and Greece
“What does this “bazaar” have to do with Greece?” I asked, and my escort explained: “Iran claims islands of the UAE and has taken a military operation on Abu Musa Island where there are oil wells, as well as on the Little and the Great Tunb islets. These are near the entrance to the Gulf, inside from the Straits of Hormuz. Due to the depth of the sea, large ships must pass between Abu-Musa and Tunb, giving to these occupied islands great geostrategic importance, that Iran has been exploiting since their military occupation.
The UAE has submitted a formal proposal to the UN for a negotiated settlement of the disputes with the goal of a final settlement at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), based on International Law. On the contrary, Iran has militarized the dispute by occupying the islands with military forces. The Iranians do not accept the validity of International Law for these islands, because as they believe, historically they once belonged to the Persian Empire and were occupied by the British, who then handed them over to the UAE under an international treaty.” Iranians do not respect this International Treaty.
Concluding, my escort mentioned that the tension in the relations between the UAE and Iran resembles the corresponding relations between Greece and Turkey, especially after the Turkish occupation of Northern Cyprus. “Our staff monitors and analyses the way Greece deals with Turkey’s aggression, both diplomatically and militarily, and draws useful conclusions that we apply in our relations with Iran. This is our unique strategic relationship with Greece,” he told me.
Turkish Ministry of Defence Industry
Within the framework of the IDEX Exhibition, the Turkish Deputy Minister of Defence Industry invited all participants to a reception at one of the luxury hotels in the area. After proper advice from Greek Ambassador Zoes, I accepted the invitation. On the evening of the reception, I approached the Turkish Deputy Minister for the formal reception. The “allied” official offered me the emblem of his Deputy Ministry saying: “I want you to have as a gift from me the emblem that symbolizes the development efforts of the Turkish Defence Industry. We plan to be self-sufficient in the production of weapons systems in a decade.”
The emblem was a red glass ladybug with a large eye on her right spine. I thanked him and walked away to my companion who witnessed the brief conversation and commented, “the Turks are making a very strong presence at this IDEX. They are trying to secure Arab funds for the development of their Defence Industry.” In a period of about ten years, they managed to gain access to Arab funds from Qatar, while in 2013, in their favourite tactic, they managed to establish a military installation in Doha.
For the Hellenic Aviation Industry (HAI)
In the year 2009, I visited the UAE once more time as member of a delegation of the Directorate of International Relations of the Ministry of Defence/National Defence HQ. One of the topics discussed was related to the Hellenic Aviation Industry (HAI). The ground technical personnel of the UAE Air Force were trained in the past at the Hellenic Aviation Industry (HAI) in Greece. The UAE officers resided in the town of Chalkida about 80 Km north of Athens, contributing to a certain extent to the economic life of the town. I had been informed by Chalkidian friends that the Emirati military were very friendly and were beloved by the locals.
The training of the UAE Air Force Staff was halted after an unfortunate moment of misunderstanding occurred by the representatives of the Police and Diplomatic Authorities of Greece at the expense of the Sheikh when his aircraft made an unplanned landing at the Hellenikon International Airport of Athens on March 2000.
Being in the UAE, I requested to meet with Colonel Mohammed who was the head of the last group of UAE technicians trained at the HAI. In the context of traditional Arab hospitality, the Colonel offered a working dinner. During the discussion, he mentioned the pleasant memories he had from his stay in Chalkida, but also the professionalism with which HAI organized the training of the technicians he supervised. Of course, the decision to resume technical training was far away from the jurisdiction of the Colonel, but he promised to work to support the resumption of bilateral cooperation between Greece and the UAE for the training of UAE Air Force technicians in Greece.
Finally, after ten years, the efforts succeeded and in 2019, an Agreement was signed to restart training of UAE AirForce technicians in HAI.
The Last Official Visit to UAE.
In November 2011, I visited the UAE once again, as representative of the Hellenic Ministry of Defence. During this visit, an extremely important event happened, precisely on the day of the opening of the Airshow and specifically during the day of the official reception. All the guests formed a line in front of the host Sheikh Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The protocol of introduction and greeting was a formal process that unfolded in a calm and repetitive pattern.
When I approached the Sheikh and presented myself as representing the Greek Ministry of National Defence, something spectacular happened. Putting formalities aside, the Sheikh grabbed me by the shoulders and with genuine interest asked me: “How is Greece dealing with the economic crisis?” Will she be able to overcome it?” Impressed by the Sheikh’s reaction, I replied: “Your Highness, those of us who love Greece will help it deal with whatever economic problems the recent international crisis creates.” “Yes, indeed this is what we have to do” he replied.
After the reception was over, I headed to the exit of the hall in order to watch an aerobatic demonstration. Suddenly I felt a light tap on the shoulder. Turning I saw a gentleman in a grey suit, who politely asked me: “Excuse me, do you know the Sheikh personally? Because this appeared from your conversation. I replied that it was the first time I had ever met him in person, but we were connected by our common interest in the economic future of Greece. The gentleman nodded and handed me his card. He was the Defence Minister of India.
Thoughts and Conclusion.
The strategic threat faced by the UAE from Iran is like the strategic threat faced by Greece from Turkey. To counter this threat, the National Defence Policy that is formulated in both friendly countries is almost identical. On this basis, it is possible to develop relationships that are not temporary and situational, but a strategic cooperation that will be strong due to mutual understanding and mutual respect.
The development of the Greek Defence Industry is suffering due to the lack of vision, political determination, and long-term strategic planning. There is great opportunity for collaboration between the UAE and Greece on the field of Defence Industry. In contrast, the competitive Turkish Defence Industry, despite its structural problems, managed in a single decade, after succeeding to receive Arab funds from Qatar, not only to develop and cover much of the needs of the Turkish armed forces but also to export defence systems.
High Time for Multi-Track Dialogues between Greece and Turkey
Dialogue is a valuable communication process that fosters mutual understanding among warring parties, paving the way for conflict resolution. Dialogue can take the format of track-1.5 and track-2 diplomacy to sustain channels of communication either when discussions between officials have ceased or when there is need to engage civil society, and groups of experts. As known, Track-1.5 dialogue involves non-government experts along with government officials who participate in an unofficial capacity, while Track-2 engages only unofficial members. While both tracks constitute the so-called “back-channel” diplomacy, none holds the official importance of traditional diplomacy.
Since members of these meetings participate unofficially, they have unprecedented freedom to exchange views informally with counterparts who they might otherwise see only as competitors or adversaries. These meetings allow time for one-on-one “walks in the woods” that can generate new ideas and fresh approaches to solving problems, without the must-achieve pressure of diplomatic summits.
It is upon this logic, that the Geneva Center for Security Policy (GCSP), an international foundation with 54 member states and the Canton of Geneva that facilitates discussions between civil servants, military officers, diplomats, experts, and civil society, provides substantive support and acts as secretariat of the Eastern Mediterranean Initiative (EMI). EMI is an inclusive dialogue platform for collective reflection and action that brings together experts from around the Eastern Mediterranean region.
Since 2020, GCSP has facilitated a series of Track-2 meetings between EMI experts from Greece and Turkey to discuss maritime differences in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean Seas. Swiss sponsored Track-II meetings have turned into an interactive conflict resolution process that developed concepts of sustained dialogue among Greek and Turkish experts during a period that tensions climaxed between Greece and Turkey.
In fact, nine Track-2 meetings were held along with respective meetings in Greece and Turkey where experts on both sides discussed differences over maritime zones in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean Seas, and not issues of “national sovereignty”. Greek and Turkish experts, participating in their private capacities, have created dialogues that would otherwise be impossible because of frequent communication gaps among their countries. For example, exploratory talks resumed in January 2021 after a five-year hiatus.
As a result, these Track-2 meetings hosted by GCSP, free from the constraints of formal government-to-government discussions, have operated in a painstakingly fostered climate of openness. The meetings have created a sense of comfort and trust, encouraging otherwise wary and aloof experts from both countries to engage, share ideas, and develop a common statement. This statement comes at a time that Greece and Turkey prioritize dialogue to settle their maritime differences. The meeting of the Greek Premier with the Turkish President on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Vilnius after the devastating earthquake in Turkey, where Greek rescue teams were sent in affected areas, led to the reignition of the engines of an action-oriented formal (Track-1) dialogue between the two countries. Political dialogue, Confidence Building Measures, and the Positive Agenda are the three pillars of the Greek-Turkish rapprochement.
Let us Continue Dialogue
The statement by Greek and Turkish members of EMI, among them Prof. Yücel Acer, Lt Gen (retd) Ioannis Anastasakis, Ms Antonia Dimou, Prof. Talha Köse, Prof. Petros Liacouras and Prof. Zuhal Mert Uzuner, goes as follows:
One hundred years ago, Turks and Greeks put an end to decades of confrontations through the Treaty of Lausanne. Within only a few years, this led to an almost miraculous friendship between the two countries. Since then, however, new conflicts arose over issues that were not on the table in Lausanne, among them the delimitation of maritime zones in the Aegean and beyond, as the Law of the Sea evolved at the global level.
Nonetheless, the issues to be resolved are much less complex and painful than the ones that were settled one hundred years ago. And the reward for overcoming the differences would be a huge win-win situation for both nations. The way to a settlement is not going to be easy and will require a will to accommodate each other’s crucial and legitimate concerns. The fact that the supreme principle in both customary international law and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea is that of “equitableness”, could greatly assist overcoming differences.
The Greek and Turkish people have lived side by side for hundreds of years, sharing the same geography and developing commonalities in culture and customs. It is a fact, proven through countless personal encounters and by recent opinion surveys in both countries, that at a personal level, Greeks and Turks get along well and do not see each other as enemies. All of us, as individuals and members of our respective societies, can contribute in this spirit to overcome remaining prejudices and distorted concepts of the other side and create a degree of understanding of its legitimate concerns. This is required if common ground is to be found.
Thus, we can encourage and support our leaders in going down the road of completing the basis of peaceful and fruitful neighborly co-existence, that was established one hundred years ago. They have recently decided to engage in an enhanced process of dialogue and deserve our full support in this endeavor. Success in their search for common ground will have positive repercussions outside our borders in the whole Eastern Mediterranean and beyond. At a time when to the north of our region, political differences have led to unbearable bloodshed and destruction, this could inspire others.
Once again, the region of the Eastern Mediterranean, which is the cradle of various civilizations, could become a beacon of light onto humanity. Let us not squander this opportunity.
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