January 18, 2012: European Union financial officials are acknowledging that the latest round of loan guarantees for Greece may not keep that Balkan nation from default. This means the possibility that Greece will leave the euro-zone will once again be on the table. The unstable economic and political situation in Greece has gotten the headlines, which means the increasingly curious political situation in Turkey has gone largely unnoticed. Over the last month the Turkish government has arrested several more people on charges of participating in the Ergenekon conspiracy. Ergenekon is an alleged ultra-nationalist super-conspiracy involving military, intelligence, and internal security personnel. The current government, led by the Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP), has now arrested or investigated around 400 people it claims are involved in a conspiracy aimed at toppling it. According to the AKP, these former officers and officials now under arrest are part of the nefarious secret organization that really controls Turkey. Many Turkish secularists claim the government’s charges are completely manufactured and the AKP is pursuing trumped up allegations in order to arrest its political opponents. The next step, the secularists argue, is an Islamist dictatorship. In other words, the AKP is operating its own Islamist conspiracy. The concern in Turkey is that the military, at one time the dominant political force in Turkey, increasingly believes it is being falsely accused of disloyalty and tensions are increasing between the military and the AKP.
January 16, 2012: For the last four days the Romanian government has faced widespread protests against budget cuts. The demonstrations in the capital became violent. Protestors threw rocks at police and the police responded with tear gas. The Romanian demonstrations against austerity measures echoed those occurring in Greece.
January 14, 2012: Kosovo police arrested 140 people who fought with police near a border crossing. Over 30 policemen were injured in the brawl. Those arrested were part of a large group of demonstrators belonging to a group called Self-Determination. The demonstrators were trying to block vehicles attempting to enter Kosovo from Serbia. The group is a hardline Kosovar political faction that opposes political and economic contacts with Serbia.
January 11, 2012: The defense ministers of Israel and Greece said the two countries will increase defense cooperation. The move by both countries is directed at Turkey, though both of their governments claim it isn’t. Turkey has been pursuing an anti-Israel foreign policy (at least rhetorically) in order to increase its clout with Arab governments. A Greek-Israeli alliance is blowback. Greece is interested in Israeli investment in its flailing economy. It also wants Israeli support for the development of off-shore natural gas fields near Cyprus.
January 10, 2012: A former Turkish president and the general who led the 1980 army coup, Kenan Evren, was indicted for his role in leading the 1980 coup. Evren is 94. The coup leaders imposed the 1982 constitution, which is unpopular in Turkey because it gave the army leaders immunity from prosecution. Evren has argued that the coup he led saved Turkey from violent overthrow by far left-wing and far right-wing radicals. Over 600,000 people were arrested after the 1980 coup.
A group of Greek anarchists took control of a radio station in Athens and broadcasted a statement supporting Revolutionary Struggle, a Greek terror group. Revolutionary Struggle launched a rocket-propelled grenade attack on the US Embassy in Athens in 2007. Several Revolutionary Struggle members are currently in jail.
January 9, 2012: Numerous Greeks are coming to Turkey to seek work. The migrants are fleeing Greece’s miserable economic situation. Istanbul (call it Constantinople?) is a popular destination for the economic refugees.
January 7, 2012: The Greek government has discovered thousands of people who are falsely claiming benefits based on medical disability. The claimants are in fact not disabled but they lied on claim forms and the government failed to properly investigate their claims. The government has also discovered that numerous fraudulent claimants have applied for multiple disabilities. The government hopes to save 250 million euros in the next year by cutting down on disability fraud. A recent government audit also discovered that over 1,400 long-dead pensioners were still receiving pension payments.
January 5, 2012: Former head of the Turkish Army, General Ilker Basbug, was arrested on charges that he participated in the Ergenekon conspiracy. Basbug retired in 2010.