Alexis Papachelas ALEXIS PAPACHELAS

Time to seek security guarantees

COMMENT

TAGS: US, Diplomacy, Defense

Diplomatic cliches rarely reflect reality, though in the case of Greek-American relations, they are indeed in the best place they have been in decades.

This new period in ties started under the previous administration, though the governing party quickly understood that Washington was not turning into a champion of SYRIZA, but was simply doing its job.

The Americans have grasped that the current government is now continuing that same foreign policy while also looking for something in return, as should be the case in any negotiations.

Several important events will take place over the next few weeks. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is meeting with US President Donald Trump in New York, where the expected outcome is a positive statement of the “Greece is a great country for investments” variety.

The terms of the new defense relationship between the two countries will also be clarified, while US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be visiting Athens next month. Pompeo’s visit is crucial because, following the sacking of national security adviser John Bolton, he is the only one who is believed to have an influence on Trump. 

As the Greek saying goes, good accounts make good friends, so in this regard it would be useful to contain expectations about the prospects of the Greek-American relationship.

Those who believe that the United States would turn its back on Turkey and replace it with Greece overnight are mistaken. Such tectonic shifts take a long time to materialize. And those on the other side of the Atlantic who sought a six-year defense deal are in a hurry. 

Greece needs to ask for some form of security guarantees, as well as for American surplus defense equipment from the Pentagon.

The US presence in certain sensitive geopolitical locations is a powerful deterrent, but it isn’t enough.

One of the snags that may come up in talks concerns the Chinese presence in Greece. The answer here is clear: Greece’s foreign policy is multidimensional and the country will continue to seek large foreign investments.

China invested at a time when we needed it and has never made demands that would put Athens at odds with its regular strategic commitments.

Greek-American relations have reached a point of maturity and the future will continue to bode well if both sides continue to keep their cards on the table and the American side realizes that Greece has given a lot (both under the radar and visibly) and can now expect some strategic returns.

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