Thoughts on the weaknesses of Greek foreign policy

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Each state pursues the policy dictated by its geography and history. For Greece, this is especially true due to the prominent and at the same time sensitive geographical position of the country, and also its heavy history. It is the duty of the country's foreign policy to treat Greece's position and heritage as an asset and not to treat it with actions and omissions as if it were a burden.

In recent years, one finds that Greek politics is characterized by a peculiar introversion which may be due more to cognitive poverty than to economic problems. Perhaps the break, due to our membership of the European Union, has contributed to the atrophy of our political thinking and vigilance. Perhaps the succession of generations has lost touch with basic prerequisites for policy, such as a thorough knowledge of history and geography, in addition to a good balance of the human factor.

Greece left Syria in 2012, while it could stay, even when the others were leaving. Greece did not act in time to assist the 1.5 million Orthodox Christians and its relations with the High Patriarchate of Antioch. Athens ignored the risk of a geopolitical attack from the South (North Africa), which for a long time was emerging, once adopting a nationally flawless stance on the negotiating table, and at the same time refusing to take international counter-legal initiatives in terms of its presence in the Mediterranean.

Greece refuses to read accurately the international reality as it evolves, remaining attached to forms of the Cold War era, which at that time, not even the successive leaderships at the time, followed us. Greece finds it difficult to conceive a coherent policy in the Balkans, in line with its tradition, involving the three major countries of the Southeast Europe - Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia.

Greece is rigid in pursuing policies of strengthening its position in the Black Sea and the Caucasus, and not only for reasons of balancing Turkey's cyclical policy in the Mediterranean. Greece is a Mediterranean and Balkan country at the same time. First Mediterranean, then Balkan. Greece delays in adopting the axiom that the great state of the sea, a logical sequence of whose implementation is the osmosis in the field of security, with the Republic of Cyprus. Greece must recognize the need for a sufficient balance in its relationship with Israel, with the one that cultivates with Egypt. Risks and benefits of different natures are associated with the cultivation or neglect of cultivating relations with both of these Mediterranean powers.

Greece has not succeeded in communicating with Turkey, to the extent that results are produced without the need to resort to military warnings. The dialogue with this neighbor must be very careful, and on an equal footing. Our country, although wisely too early to condemn the coup attempt against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has failed to understand the weight of the Russian contribution, to balance the dynamics of Russian-Turkish understanding, and to govern accordingly, despite the remarks that have been made.

This is, perhaps, the most serious detour of Greek politics in the last 20 years. Corrective attempts were made slowly, and were weak. They showed a constant inability to understand the direction of things. Greece, stubbornly defending its territorial integrity, should be vigilant, so as not to become the spearhead of other people's pursuits against Turkey. Such a choice will cost her unbearably. Furthermore, the Black Sea is no longer a serious field of activity for the Greeks. Our country should not get involved in things there.

Greece is an EU member state and NATO ally. It has a strong sense of individual national priorities, but finds it difficult to maneuver like other countries to promote its particular interests and aspirations. In addition to France and Germany, countries such as Italy, Austria and Hungary do so.

In Libya, our homeland is obliged, even if there was no Turkish-Libyan memorandum, to adopt an active presence, focusing mainly, but not only, on Cyrenaica, which, among other things, is the region closest to Greece to this large territory and was first colonised by Greeks in antiquity. Athens, in the run-up to the delimitation of maritime zones with the future government, must propose and present a coherent plan for economic cooperation, in particular trade, energy, fisheries, cooperation in the agricultural sector, construction, but also in the cultural (antiquities).

Greece does not "build" national confidence. Greece has high national confidence, if and as long as it is not eroded by a portion of the ruling class.

Geography and history, therefore, regardless of the political hemiplegia with which the state was born, impose on Greece to renew and deepen its relations with its relatives and neighbors so as to improve the conditions for dialogue with expansionist Turkey. Turkey's policy of containment is based on armed force and diplomacy, but it has a geopolitical background.

But an effective foreign policy does not mean even if the above pathogens are cured, if the country does not reorganize its productive base, if the economy is not reoriented to productive activities, if the state does not radically reorganize the Armed Forces.

At the end of the day, "some idea for Greece" is required.

The views expressed by the author on Phile News do not necessarily reflect those of Greek City Times.

Dr. George Poukamisas is President of the Hellenic Geographical Society, O Strabo.
Guest Contributor

This piece was written for Greek City Times by a Guest Contributor