Tom Ellis TOM ELLIS

Real patriotism is dealing with foreign policy responsibly

COMMENT

TAGS: Diplomacy

Is it the size of the threat and uncertainty over our allies’ and partners’ support; the realization that no one else will fight our war; the dignified presence of the foreign minister; the fact that SYRIZA has gone through the experience of being in government that forced it to act in an institutional rather than reactionary manner?

Whatever the case may be, the discussion at Monday’s National Foreign Policy Council on Greek-Turkish developments was held in a spirit of consensus with a welcome and imperative show of maturity from almost everyone involved, including the members of the main opposition who had dealt with similar issues when in government.

Regardless of where we go from here, that was a positive development that needs to be safeguarded. Particularly with regard to SYRIZA; not much opposition was expected from Movement for Change.

In combination with the consensus displayed over the issue of the overseas vote – where the parties were not as bold as they ought to have been, meaning that a much smaller number of Greeks living abroad will be able to vote in elections here – a climate is being formed that favors the serious discussion and handling of big issues that should not be part of the vehement clashes of domestic politics.

We hope it means that everyone understands that the risks outweigh people and parties, and that Greece is stronger and more able to act decisively when a government can depend on a united front. For this to happen, the government also needs to consult with the opposition. Ideas and suggestions from experienced members of other parties can only help. Constructive criticism is useful.

Ideally, there would be a permanent and functional channel of communication between the prime minister and the head of the main opposition. It would be a valuable asset for the Greek state to have continuity, especially in foreign relations. Former premier Alexis Tsipras may find himself in power and having to handle such issues again.

It is also clear that there is no room for arrogance and unnecessary aggression. PASOK’s frustration with the stance of opposition New Democracy and SYRIZA during the first years of the bailout was justified. As was ND’s (and again PASOK’s when they co-governed) at the unnecessary intensity of SYRIZA’s opposition to the bailout policies – back when Athens was ablaze with street protests and the “Merkelists” were being accused of selling out Greece. The previous leftist government was also rightly annoyed at reactions from sundry “patriots” to the Prespes name accord it signed with Skopje.

The imprudence, the mistakes and the damage they wrought belong to the annals of history. Now it’s time to move on to a new day which looks as though it will be fraught with danger.

Everyone may feel bitter about some actions of the other side during the past, but it’s time to let it go. The country has paid for such overreactions. No one is going to offer any apologies. All we should aim for is that the mistakes not be repeated. And for all to understand – and act accordingly – that real patriotism is reflected in the handing of national crises and foreign policy in a sober, responsible and unified manner.

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