There is a revealing phrase in the speech delivered by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday, near the Black Sea.

“Shame on you,” he said, addressing the US government. “You prefer a pastor to a strategic Nato ally.”

Emboldened by the huge powers he has accrued, and with ever increasing contempt for democratic institutions, the Turkish president believes that he can use a foreign national as a negotiating weapon to exert pressure, and can blackmail in order to exact concessions.

He did the same with the two captured Greek army officers, hoping to exchange them for eight Turkish military officers who were granted asylum in Greece.

He also did it with the American Pastor Brunson, using him to ensure the extradition of his erstwhile friend and current arch-enemy Fethulla Gulen, to close the affair of Turkey’s Halkbank, which was convicted of violating sanctions on Iran, and to shift Washington’s stance on the Kurds.

No civilised country can succumb to such blackmail. Erdogan’s inability to understand that is leading his country to political isolation and economic catastrophe.

The shift towards Russia cannot easily allay the concerns of Turkish citizens, who fear for their bank deposits.

God, as a counterbalance to the dollar, is directed only to the backward masses of the Turkish hinterland.

At this critical hour, with instability in Turkey becoming explosive, what is required of the Greek government is calm and prudence.

The counterbalance to authoritarianism and theocracy is democracy.