Alexis Papachelas ALEXIS PAPACHELAS

What we need is a plan, not delusions

COMMENT

TAGS: Defense, Diplomacy

Delusions are unhelpful, particularly when it comes to foreign policy. A case in point was the euphoria cultivated in Athens over the possibility of some give and take with Washington. Speculation of this nature tends to elevate one-off gestures into decisions that do not correspond to reality. 

For example, US military helicopters were spotted in Alexandroupoli, northern Greece, as they prepared for an exercise in Bulgaria and Romania. The sighting generated speculation that the area was going to become the location of a permanent American helicopter base. 

However, no such decision has been made, and nor are there any such plans in the pipeline. The Pentagon is interested in making ad hoc use of several Greek bases for the deployment of military drones and other purposes. 

But there have been no talks about using a major military base apart from the one at Souda, on the island of Crete. Nor, according to diplomatic sources, are there any plans so far for a Greek base to substitute the Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey. 

Excessive expectations have also arisen in terms of the strategic gains that Athens can secure in return. There is talk about buying a small number of F-35 fighter jets or the acquisition of secondhand F-15s. 

Greek-American lobby officials with knowledge of Congress’s and the Pentagon’s intentions say that expectations of this magnitude are unlikely to be matched, while adding that “Greece cannot be a new Israel for the United States. They are two completely different cases.” 

Nevertheless, relations between the two countries in the area of defense are at a very good point. 

The military channels of communication are operating effectively. Beyond security, the US administration appears to be doing all it can to portray Greece as an attractive destination for American investors. 

Meanwhile, Greece has to deal with an unpredictable Turkey. Ankara has many open fronts and, at the same time, it is building up its military strength, also relying on its own production.

Greece’s political leadership must hammer out a strategic plan after putting its own house in order.

And of course the plan will have to be based on real data.

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