Alexis Papachelas ALEXIS PAPACHELAS

Rebuilding a strong foundation

COMMENT

TAGS: Defense, Politics

It would certainly be convenient for Greece to sign some kind of “insurance contract” with a major power that would clearly stipulate its armed support in the event that we come under a military attack. There is no such thing, however, and it’s high time we came to terms with that.

No matter how many weapons we order, how many military concessions we grant and deals we make, no major power will take on the responsibility of guaranteeing another country’s safety and security. We tried such a thing after the invasion of Cyprus and achieved a very good statement from the United States in exchange for the lifting of the embargo on arms sales to Turkey. It appears that we were also close to such a statement from France, which, however, fell through. In both cases, though, we are talking about vague assurances, not explicit guarantees. The last time we had anything close to such a thing was during the Cold War, when the Western alliance guaranteed Greece’s territorial integrity in the event of an attack from the north.

What all this means is that we have to forge our path on our own, without accounting for or relying on alliances and military partnerships. It is essential that we understand that we are alone, partly so that we stop swinging between the deluded expectation that someone out there is going to step in to save us and whining that someone sold us down the river again when things don’t go our way.

This is not to say, of course, that Greece does not need strong alliances with countries like the United States and France – we would obviously be in a much weaker position without them. And of course it needs to weigh what it gives against what it gets in every deal and exchange. This is, after all, the entire purpose of effective diplomacy.

The point though, is that we have to get serious as a country, as a state. We have left too much to chance over the past 40 years and the economic crisis came along and eroded the foundations of the state’s hard core. Now we’re trying to clean up the mess and make up lost ground, having realized too late that the danger of Finlandization is very real.

In other words, we have realized that there is no such thing as a life insurance policy for nations and that the only solution is to fortify your country, to make its foundation solid again, and to rely on your own forces. Strong alliances are a safety net that counts when you are in a bind. But the stronger you make your house, the less insurance you need.

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