In a recent statement, Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias concluded:
Greece is in a unique position to combine a 40-years participation in the EU with an in-depth knowledge of needs and aspirations of the peoples of the region.
This has been just one among many hints of Greece’s geopolitical shift in the last years.
Several weeks ago I wrote about how this shift is essential in managing a sustainable foreign policy and assert national sovereignty in an extensive article called “Greece and the West: Shifting towards Eurasia?”
Now and increasingly, the predictions I made and opportunities I presented are taking form in geopolitical reality.
Greece hosted the Philia (Friendship) Forum, a landmark summit about Trans-Mediterranean integration, cooperation, connectivity and, as the title suggests, friendship.
Countries that took part were Egypt, Saudi Arabia, The United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain, Iraq, Cyprus as well as France.
This is not just a coalition of countries worried by expansionist Turkish foreign policy but an assembly interested in coordinating the future of the Mediterranean-Red Sea-Persian Gulf regions.
Never before have so many Middle Eastern countries been this prominent in Greek policy and yet this development is most likely here to stay, as Greece moves towards long-lasting relationships in the economic and military sector.
The partnership with Egypt (so far the strongest of all) is especially of extreme significance since it would also serve as a corridor into Africa, its markets and strategic chains.
An important step Greece has taken is expanding its influence to religious kin in the Levant; this includes working together with countries such as Lebanon in warming ties to the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch.
In logical consequence, this also means restoring ties with Assad’s Syria and cooperating on bilateral issues.
The ultimate goal of this would be to revive Hellenism in some of its Ancient and Byzantine homelands on cultural grounds.
Stronger European position
It is true that with the EU failing to hold Turkey accountable for its violations, blocking sanctions, and only offering superficial diplomatic and rhetoric support, Greece has begun to look towards other regional players as allies.
These are countries that unlike the majority of European ones, actually do have a stake in the Eastern Mediterranean.
This development should not, as some might anticipate, be thought of as Greece becoming “anti-European”, but quite on the contrary.
If Greece has exceptional ties into the Middle Eastern world, it is infinitely more valuable to the European Union and therefore could exercise much more power and influence inside Brussels.
Greece can then be thought of being both a gateway and a mediator for the EU inside rather unexperienced territories.
The idea of making Greece a Trans-Mediterranean power should therefore be of great value to everyone involved,
A) in reinforcing Europe’s south-eastern flank, and
B) in making Greece an independent and sovereign country wielding influence without being thought of as a colony or a western protectorate.
A great example is its current leadership in the EU Med7 program.
In this sense, Greece can obviously continue to see itself as a European, without forgetting that its own security and geopolitical future lies in the Middle East.
You can follow Achilles Delta on his Twitter account here.