/  STRATEGIC AFFAIRS   /  The ‘Game of Throne’: Greece Vs Turkey.

The ‘Game of Throne’: Greece Vs Turkey.

International visits, bilateral relations with major powers and possible outcomes. A sudden move of comparison between the two regional powers.


By Marios Efthymiopoulos

CEO & Founder Strategy International


When I found out, earlier this week (13-18 May 2013), that while Prime Minister Samaras would make an official visit to China, Prime Minister Erdogan would hold simultaneous, meetings in the USA, I felt that we are back to ‘traditional rivalry, business surely rivalry’ between the two states. Only this time, the “Game of Thrones” would be slightly different. Concentration would be provided, on who is more capable of creating strong bonds and alliances, to hold positions, initially, as key regional players, due to location, strategic or tactical effectiveness, interests and fiscal viability of investment, whether these are reasons of economic, religious, political or social/historical concern.


A Game of Throne…

Turkey, Greece relations and vice versa, no matter how one puts it, are actually now, similar to the international British movie series creation of “Game of Thrones”. To make this article more attractive and interesting, this article suggests that the movie series holds strong messages of tactics and strategies that hold similarities, with what is going on in reality, between the two countries and the bilateral relations between them and global powers such as the USA, China and…Russia, to add to this equation or Israel for this matter.

At the initial stages of the movie series, there are 7 realms (in our case 2). In the middle of season 1 of the series (now we are at season 3), the realms start fighting with each other. While some realms disengage from the conflicts, alliances are created in between the 7 realms (season 2) and at the same time make sure to export fears and needs to make strong external strategic and tactical alliances for possible external threats from out of area kingdoms (season 3 and going).

Keeping in mind the aforementioned, the question that I raise is why are both countries, suddenly so eager to make now more than ever strong strategic, tactical and economic ties? Is there something going on that we need to talk about or negotiate, or need we to know?

Both countries, rival with each other; thankfully, no longer, at a hard-politics level. Rather in soft-level business antagonism. As such, this is not a strong reason of concern on why do both trips happen at the same time.

In theory there are but only few reasons, why regional states seek alliances, at the same time.

  1. Opportunity and wish of exploitation of resources and as such allies to protect. (Energy affairs)
  2. Opportunity and wish of strategic allies to get engaged in the region with military might/joint interests. (Syria, Lebanon and why not Iran).
  3. Avoid possible outbreak of sudden and ambitious events that are to come??(Casus-Belli, destabilization in South-East Mediterranean region, as the right of exploitation of natural resources by Cyprus is currently on the rise as are as well long-term, Israel’s interests.

And to take it further. I wonder: Is this as much or just a matter of personal private political wish from both leaders?; A will for regional leadership? Is as such this a matter of political ‘show-biz’?

All of the above shows evidence that a new game is in place; a new estimate that a new Game of Thrones is in being developed. With ‘mid-size or high level’ in the short-term, excuses, whether this is the fiscal crisis in Greece or the Syrian civil outbreak bordering Turkey, having asked NATO, for the latter case, to project willingness to protect its alliance member, both states feel suddenly insecure. They wish to exploit this opportunity no matter how negative the reasons are. They will try to make the utmost to exploit new and innovative opportunities and to raise awareness of their own people on possible events that may jeopardize their ‘rights’ or wishes.


This is not just a meeting between the four countries:

Both of them will do the utmost to consider new and stronger ties and alliances with the 21st century traditional rivalries (USA & China) at the same time, when in the background Russia does business with both and is expected to increase strategic and tactical cooperation; even more-so, when Russia is concerned about Syria and Cyprus, surely for different reasons.

In the first case, if Russia loses influence to Syria, then Russia loses partial influence in the region. In the second case, Cyprus becomes more important than ever for the interests of Russia. This also explains why Russia is not surely clear about Cyprus’ fiscal crisis just yet. Cyprus will yet again become for Russia and Russian interests private or collective, a fiscal paradise, tourist and why not this time, as well, a military hub for Russian forces, when Russian forces withdraw from Syria.

Israel at the same time is suddenly, quite interested to the changes happening in the region. As such makes strong concessions, as it already did with Turkey, -restoring relations- as the rival of my rival is my friend, namely Syria and Iran, but not totally so, when it comes down to Cyprus or Greece in this matter, while relations with the two has been increasingly developing since 2009 in a strong and strategic pace.

Cyprus for Israel and its exclusive zone is an important matter that Israel wants to hold at the level of negotiations, the upper hand. And in this case the role of the US and the influence of Israel to the US is great.

As such for Israel, Cyprus and therefore Greek interests are easier to be discussed and negotiated with, when they come down to the use and exploitation of natural resources (Israel-Cyprus) in the region and why not in the future in Greece as well. While if Turkey manages to get the US engaged in Syria and in the Cyprus issue, then Israel will have to make the turnaround at some level and may allocate issues of energy security to the Turkey as a sub-contracting business affair rather a political, rendering Greece vulnerable.

Overall, Greece and Turkey are as seen as most interested. They both wish engagement direct or indirect for a multiplicity of reasons. The solution of the Cyprus issue with or without allies and partners will attempt to be solved. As the solution to the Cyprus issue, provides new ideas, new terms and new alliances as well as new relations. That is also why PM Erdogan is expected to ask the US to be more engaged in the Cyprus issue, while State Department Minister Kerry of the USA, makes a move, of innovative try, to negotiate issues in the Middle East.

At the opposite side, Greece, with PM Samaras, in the shadow of being denied a meeting with President Obama, as media stated and the possibility of cancelling  the scheduled trip to the US, while President Obama meets PM Erdogan, met the leadership and the Prime Minister of the People Republic of China. Possibly PM Samaras asked for large scale investment, becoming a success story, the success story of Greece, and thus its foreign policy objectives and concerns, while making sure to concede to possible wishes, of tax or other EU or national laws and wish for direct providence in infrastructure of Greece and other resources and as such attracting China to the ‘Game of Thrones’ in the Southeast Europe and the Southeast Mediterranean region.


Next Day, Possible Scenarios:

Scenario 1:  (upgrading relations, positions and options)

Both countries successfully end their meetings. Stronger alliances are made and stronger ties are made.

Turkey gets fully concentrated and engaged in a group of issues: Syria, Cyprus and Energy.

In the Short term, Israel-Turkey relations improve as soon as the US gets engaged, with the UK being increasingly interest in a possibly solution to the Cyprus issue.

Greece, gets fully accredited the benefit of being a strong ally with China out of historical and cultural bonds. Gets investments and more….

Gets investment for future technology, research, exchange and military cooperation with China.

Greece truly becomes the hub for Europe for China and global goods.

Is yet, to join in energy issues, a Russo-Chinese consortium of energy and an Israeli blessing of know-how for exploitation.

Greece secures both, its national exclusive zone, but also this of the Cyprus Republic from its point of view, rendering the EU favored to its side as this is the EU excusive zone of energy interests.


Scenario 2:  (Negative effects and options)

Turkey does not manage to bring forward the US in being more engaged in Syrian affairs.

Plays the game of alliance and re-postures its position with Israel. Turkey hopes to get business deals of contractor work or subcontractor work, from energy sources managing to secure a business level solution but not a political solution.

Cyprus issue remains at the same level of negotiations that are due to start again in late October 2013.

Turkey acknowledges the presence of Russia and allows first to hold the Russian Mediterranean fleet in its own national land and waters when and if they exit from Syria, in exchange of Russia being fully engaged in the protection of its ‘joint interests’.

Greece does not manage to attract middle or high level investments. Greece is with no solution than to ally for good with Russia and Russian Interests including the Russian Interests in Cyprus.

Greece tries for a new long-term with even more concession to the US interests, rendering Greece a stronger more capable ally in the West yet with major funds being allocated at strategic level investments.

This puts Greece at an international map yet, a map with fewer options but greater attitudes for Western style, growth and EU orientation led by Germany and possibly France.

In this case the UK gets closer with Turkey as is suddenly un-attracted to the EU involvement in the area idea. Turkey is more closely link to an international level environment. Turkey-UK relations increase, at all levels and strategic open cooperation with the blessings and support of the USA in the hope that Turkey gets more engaged in the Muslim world, while Turkey is rendered a financial hub between the Christian West and the Muslim East.


And the story goes on….

Many scenarios exist about the next day or days/months to come, from the day, when the two states and its leaders are seen at the same time being at either sides of the corner of this earth. That is why in this article we made sure to show is that there is a fine game that has been initiated and being developed. We named as the ‘Greek-Turkish Game of Thrones’ out of the British movie series.

This new game however, has a different perspective timing and assumptions but also elements attached to it. This new game comes with the blessings and support of two regional powers Greece and Turkey. This is as such the time of increased maneuvering and negotiations seen and done by both Greece and Turkey. This is, seen, from either side, as an attempt to bring forward more external countries, global leaders in the region. This is an attempt to bring back what we call in Greece, the story of engagement of Great Powers, only this time effects of this, will bring-in more countries but also more organizations such as the EU and NATO and strong alliances that if constructed properly may be proven as key solving alliances.



Dr. Efthymiopoulos is the CEO & Founder of Strategy International. Past held positions included being a visiting scholar at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at SAIS Johns Hopkins University in Washington DC, visiting senior research scholar at George Washington University, Business School, EU Center for Excellence, Washington DC. He also held positions as Southeast Europe Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington DC USA, and visiting Lecturer at the Department of Social and Political Sciences, University Of Cyprus, Nicosia Cyprus. Dr. Efthymiopoulos is a constant invited guest at the Joint War College of Greece, the NATO Maritime Interdiction Operation and Training Center (NMIOTC), the NATO training corps in Kilkis, Homeland Police Security and Training of National Hellenic Police in Athens, and the NATO Deployable Corps in Thessaloniki Greece. He is a graduate from the NATO Defense College (NADEFCOL) senior course 105, 2004-2005, Rome, Italy. He was appointed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Greece at NATO in Rome, worked at the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in the Biotechnology and Biosafety issues and as a Political/Financial Analyst at the Cook County’s Treasurer’s Office in Chicago Illinois USA. He holds a PhD from the University of Crete, Greece, a senior civilian and officers diploma by the NATO Defense College, Rome Italy, a Masters Degree from the University of Vienna -The Diplomatic Academy of Vienna- in Advanced International Relations (MAIS) (2002-2003), Vienna Austria & concluded the MSc in Russian and Post-Soviet Studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), London, UK, (2001-2002). He also holds a BA (Hons) in International Relations and Politics by the University of Lincolnshire and Humberside, (1998-2001), Lincoln, UK.