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17° Nicosia,
27 May, 2019
 
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Forging a common policy line

Greece needs to show the required political maturity

Athanasios Ellis

Athanasios Ellis

Everyone agrees: Dramatic changes in the region (relations between the United States and Turkey, developments in the Eastern Mediterranean) will have a decisive impact on Greece in the coming decades. The conjecture warrants consensus in the hammering out of Greek foreign policy in the face of nascent tectonic changes.

Developments are obviously larger than individual politicians and particular administrations. The situation calls for realism and moderation. There is absolutely no reason for triumphalism. In fact, what is needed is careful preparation to guard against possible setbacks in the future.

Despite calls for national consensus, the Macedonia name issue failed to attain cross-party understanding. Rather than seeking to forge a common front, certain parties chose to promote partisan interests instead. Their efforts did not necessarily pay off.

However, contrary to the name dispute, developments in the Eastern Mediterranean region are not the source of partisan antagonism. Hence the ground is fertile for a common long-term approach.

The initiatives coming from the Greek side have so far been in the right direction.

The strategy of former foreign minister Nikos Kotzias, the pragmatism of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ diplomatic staff, even certain actions undertaken by former defense minister and junior coalition partner Panos Kammenos, and the huge contribution of the Greek-American community have set a favorable stage that has allowed Athens to take advantage of developments in the wider region.

American officials say bilateral ties with Greece have never been in better shape. No one should feel antagonistic about this. What matters is the big picture. The country has rid itself of distortions caused by ideological obsessions that obstructed the promotion of our national interests.

Greece needs to show the required political maturity – and it seems to be doing so, at least to a considerable degree.

The government is working on this in a systematic and consistent fashion while the conservative opposition appears ready to build its policy in the same direction should it come to power after elections later this year.

A cross-party, long-term approach will allow for the more effective management of a major geopolitical development with clear existential implications for Greece.

We are faced with a rare opportunity. But big dangers loom.

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