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12° Nicosia,
10 August, 2020
 
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Serious planning, not tough-guy posturing

For many years, Greeks appear to have made a habit of taking everything apart

Alexis Papachelas

Alexis Papachelas

If someone compared the passion of the discussions about our foreign policy and what goes on in reality, they would discern a huge chasm between the two. One would expect that, given the current threats facing our country, we would resemble Israel a bit. I don’t mean becoming Israel, but resembling it. 

What does this mean? It means the country having a “culture of security” that resides within the state apparatus, the political system, society even.

For many years, Greeks appear to have made a habit of taking everything apart. Partisanship and misguided unionism have corroded everything, even the intelligence service. We spent billions of euros on military procurements while mostly disregarding research and development in our defense industry. 

Every time Greece was obliged, under its commitments as a member of the NATO military alliance, to dispatch a frigate to an area near a hotspot, it became a major issue. A section of the state mechanism began to operate along public utility lines, with devastating consequences. Performance evaluation became anathema even within sensitive sectors right at the core of the state.

It took years before the country finally acquired a National Security Council. Meanwhile, there are very few real experts on Turkish and Balkan affairs. All that can change. But it will take time, money and determination. Fortunately, recent assignments to key positions within the military and other crucial posts have been, as is widely admitted, exceptional. At times like this, it is important to have people with knowledge and wisdom in key posts. 

However, we’re still far from becoming mature and serious as a society. That is, we are from understanding that patriotism is neither coffee-shop talk, nor tough-guy posturing nor chest-thumping, but rather professionalism, systematic preparation and planning.

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