It is easy to see why Greece’s partners are happy with Alexis Tsipras on a range of issues. From doses of realism and the close cooperation in the area of the economy over the past three years, to the signing of the Prespes accord, the Greek prime minister is projecting a very positive image.
His great communication skills and complete control of his party allow Tsipras to implement policies and measures that would be difficult if not impossible for anyone else in his position to pursue, and that is true on a number of sensitive and difficult issues – labor law, among others – without coming up against a wave of resistance.
The fact that he has left his anti-European past behind him and is gradually transforming himself into a center-left Europeanist has some of his party’s voters unenthused, particularly those that make up SYRIZA’s core – the people that voted for the party when it was scoring around 3 percent in the national elections.
On the other hand, the praise Tsipras is getting from Western leaders and bureaucrats is obviously causing some discomfort in Greece’s opposition parties. But the domestic front is not what’s at issue in this column, but rather the stance of the country’s European partners and its ally the United States.
Their support for Tsipras seems to overstep the line. It’s passed a certain limit and their rhetoric and even their tone is seen as grating. In some cases, their attitude is almost undignified.
Good chemistry with a foreign leader is perfectly understandable, and we have seen it on numerous occasions and in many countries. But the personal nature of the support we see here is over the top, and it’s becoming almost unfair to everyone else. Governments and diplomats appear to be ignoring others who are and for years have been staunchly pro-European and who have made significant sacrifices, often paying a huge political price, in defense of Western principles and ideals.
Foreign officials are of course right to defend the interests of their countries and the goals of the institutions they represent. But they need to avoid the slippery slope of bias and respect all the democratic parties of Greece, particularly those like New Democracy, Movement for Change and To Potami, which despite their own shortcomings – and they have many – have remained steadily pro-European.
Diplomatic relations are a tightrope act. Attitudes that may be seen as offensive by some can create friction in the future bilateral relationship, and this certainly does not serve Western interests. The past is riddled with such negative examples.
So, yes, close cooperation with the government is good and useful for the country, but there is no need for sugarcoating reality. And it’s only fair, and could prove useful in the long run, for Greece’s Western partners and allies to show the requisite respect to the parties of the opposition, particularly those that uphold European ideals.