After the adventures, contradictions and hyperbole of the past – even the dangerous recklessness of certain politicians gripped by delusions – the overwhelming majority of Greece’s political parties (all of whom have either exercised power or may be called to do so soon) appear to agree on the basic parameters of the country’s foreign policy.
This convergence of positions and opinions was apparent at a recent well-attended event on Greek-American relations and the strategic cooperation between Athens and Washington, hosted by the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP).
It was evident that today not even the Left questions the 1977 declaration of late conservative statesman Constantinos Karamanlis that “we belong to the West.”
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, a once self-proclaimed left-wing radical, gave a warm welcome to then US President Barack Obama in Athens, visited Donald Trump in Washington, and is considered a “darling” in Brussels and all the major European capitals.
It was in this spirit that Foreign Minister Giorgos Katrougalos, speaking at the ELIAMEP event, hailed the government’s “extremely close” relations with Washington.
For his part, New Democracy’s shadow minister for foreign affairs, Giorgos Koumoutsakos, stressed that the conservative party intends to continue in the same vein when it comes to power and is intent on further deepening ties with Washington.
On the other hand, the so-called “multidimensional” foreign policy pronounced by late socialist premier Andreas Papandreou is not some radical approach from the distant past, but was also implemented for years by the center-right. It so happens that ND leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis is currently on a two-day visit to Moscow.
Speaking at the event, the two top foreign policy officials for the two main parties, governing SYRIZA and opposition ND, described similar priorities and sent in essence the same message that Greece is, first and foremost, a member of the European family while also investing in its strategic alliance with the US.
And at the same time it is trying to take advantage of its geopolitical position and looking forward to playing a leading role in the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean.
This development is a sign that SYRIZA is maturing. After four years in power, the attacks of the past on American imperialism and even more so its vulgar insults against its so-called “Merkelist” opponents, are being consigned to the annals of history.
Tsipras has come to understand how things stand on the international stage and to appreciate the value of a good alliance. His political rivals are not idiots, nor are they the pawns of foreign powers. They have simply known for decades what SYRIZA’s leadership is only just learning.
Despite the justified anger of parties like ND, PASOK and Potami, SYRIZA’s shift is a positive development for Greece as it helps keep the country steadily on its Euro-Atlantic course.