Alexis Papachelas ALEXIS PAPACHELAS

Greece on the front line

COMMENT

TAGS: Defense, Diplomacy, Politics

Could Donald Trump’s policies serve as an awakening for Europe and make the continent re-examine its security and defense policy?

The new American president has clearly shocked European leaders. During his recent speech at NATO’s new headquarters, he failed to mention Article 5 – the transatlantic alliance’s provision that binds all member-states to each other’s defense. Trump is doing everything he can to question alliances and shared values that have been in place for the past 70 years.

On the other hand, it seems fair to say that Europe had become spoiled. European states have for decades entrusted their security with Washington and taken a rather limited, soft-power approach to foreign policy.

Now the moment of truth has arrived. However, there are a lot of things to consider. Typical European Union procedure cannot be followed when dealing with issues that warrant instant and practical decisions. Collective and extensive consultations which can be brought to a halt with the veto of a single member-state are fine for issues pertaining to agriculture policy, for example. But they are anything but fine when it comes to security and defense.

Security and defense decisions should depend on a narrow core of European states. Turning Europe into a superpower (or a mini-superpower) will in any case require a common defense policy. Building many different types of armored vehicles or fighter jets in Europe is senseless and counterproductive.
Europe also needs to mature in the field of internal security and information gathering. Above all, it must operate as if it were a single state.

All that is naturally being discussed at this moment in Berlin and Paris. Germany is hesitating, bound by inhibitions that are a legacy of its troubled past. This new chapter of European cooperation cannot be written without France.

Greece can and should play a role in this new setting. It must do more than just gain a small benefit here and there. The country is on the front line of a risk-prone area. Its borders are also EU borders and they stretch along a volatile region.

It’s time to play ball. But it will take seriousness, technocratic preparation and high-level alliances. If we want to take something, we will have to give something back.

The final aim should be to protect the Greek border as an EU border. But in order to get there, we must first claim and secure a strategic role in the narrow core of Europe.

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