Former US Vice President Joe Biden accepts the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination during a speech delivered for the largely virtual 2020 Democratic National Convention from the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, US, August 20, 2020. [Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]
The debate has already begun on what a Joe Biden administration will mean for Greek interests. Everything points to an electoral loss for US President Donald Trump but no one should underestimate him.
Biden and his team in the White House will definitely mark a return to normalcy. He has had a deep knowledge of the issues concerning Greece for decades and, at crucial moments, has come out in favor of Greek positions. But he also knows a lot of people, which is very important. For the first time in a long time, there will be powerful Greek Americans who will be able to pick up the phone and talk to him or his vice president.
This is an important difference from Trump. When he was elected, illusions were cultivated that Greece would have access through his first chief of staff, whose mother was of Greek descent, and various other rising stars. Eventually no one was able to access the Oval Office directly and the Greek account was formally assigned to Vice President Mike Pence. It is quite paradoxical, considering that a large percentage of Greek Americans voted for Trump.
But besides Biden, the team that will deal with national security issues has experience of our region and knows the people and the history. Former US ambassador to Greece Nicholas Burns may take on a crucial role in the White House or State Department.
The same goes for former Barack Obama advisers Tony Blinken and Phil Gordon, who have handled the file on the region. There are also rumors that the current US ambassador to Greece, Geoffrey Pyatt, may take an important position in the State Department.
To all this, we must add the negative atmosphere that has been created for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after his many aggressive attacks on Biden. Erdogan is putting all his chips on Trump, without much elegance or flexibility.
So should we expect miracles? Obviously not. The bells rang in some churches when Jimmy Carter was elected US president as some thought he would turn against Ankara. Since then, we have learned that pre-election commitments are one thing and pursuing a foreign policy based on interests is quite another.
But that is the big difference. If Biden is elected, the US will be a predictable country. The Greek prime minister will know, in an hour of need, who to call and – roughly – what he will hear. Trump managed to surprise both Greek leaders who met him.
To one he said that “it was a bad idea to stay in the euro, you should have left,” and to the other that “it is not a bad idea to have an incident [in the Aegean],” or words to that effect. Both times, American officials sitting around the table stared awkwardly at the ceiling.