Alexis Papachelas ALEXIS PAPACHELAS

Another totem pole...

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TAGS: Politics, Diplomacy

The most useful thing about this government is that it has torn down all the totem poles we held so highly in the period following the 1967-74 military dictatorship. The left was instrumental in erecting them in the first place and now it is proving catalytic in tearing them down.

Among them are privatizations and the need to push forward major investments: concepts that were anathema even for a part of the right.

Now, however, they are part of the government’s official agenda of goals – in words at least.At the White House yesterday, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras tore down yet another totem pole, that representing anti-American sentiment.

If someone were to tell the average Greek 20 years ago that a left-wing prime minister would speak as Tsipras did about Greek-American ties, he or she would have said they were mad.

Yet Tsipras said that Greek-American ties are at the best they have been since World War II – an important statement given how much history there is in this relationship. So much for the maturing process.

But what will the visit ultimately mean in practical terms?

US President Donald Trump was reserved about making any promises and kept expectations low. Encouraging words for investments in Greece are certainly important, but the market in the US works on its own terms.Decisions are made not because of a phone call from the White House, but on the basis of a cost-benefit analysis. 

In the area of security, is it clear that the US has plans to upgrade the role of the Souda base on Crete, though this is still unofficial.

We also know that a deal to upgrade Greece’s fleet of F-16 fighter jets will also go through. And that’s about all we know.

The good thing is that channels of communication have been opened that may appear useful at a crucial juncture. We shouldn’t expect too much, however, particularly in regard to influencing European leaders.

The prime minister will return from the red carpets to the thorns of reality back home. The visit looked good, but did not lead to much and all of the crucial dilemmas Tsipras will have to face are right here waiting for him.

Greeks like to see their leaders standing beside the world’s most powerful forces; but that is not what’s topmost on their minds right now.

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