The outlook for NATO and us in the new landscape

Even the briefest of conversations with NATO chiefs in Brussels these days will quickly reveal that the transatlantic alliance is finding itself in a phase of self-questioning and transformation for the second time in a decade. Having brought most countries of «new Europe» into its alliance and following several military interventions in the Balkans, NATO has now turned to face the challenges of the new age. According to the alliance’s chiefs in Brussels, NATO’s two chief goals in this new landscape, which are to a certain extent interrelated, are: Firstly, tackling the new danger that answers to the (as yet insufficiently clarified) term «terrorism» alongside the reorganization of NATO’s structure to allow it to operate with greater flexibility and speed. Second is the development of the alliance’s relations with countries located in the «inflammatory» region of the Middle East and its possible intervention there, but also with countries further afield – if it is invited to mediate – as has happened in Afghanistan and may soon also happen in Iraq. As the chief pillar of the transatlantic alliance, NATO is concerned by the initiative of the four core European Union states for the creation of a parallel defense structure and so it is accelerating the pace if its cooperations, broadening its limits and embroiling its allies in a new mission that is based on a specific plan demanding active participation as well as more time and money. It is interesting to note that up until now no European countries have opposed this new transatlantic initiative. In theory, this plan does not exclude NATO’s involvement in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian dispute, with the precondition that the «road map» for peace will be promoted and that the Americans will manage to convince Tel Aviv to accept a third party to keep the peace between the two sides. Undoubtedly, the «new age» NATO is entering is of particular interest to Greece. Not because we will play a central role – of course, that would be an excessive and utopian vision. But rather because we will be participating in the developments. NATO and the EU are organizations where ideas and plans are hammered out. Once again, there will be developments in our neighborhood and in some countries with which we have traditionally friendly relations. Greece has a modern army (on which it spends tens of billions of euros); due to this, but mostly due to the fact that it is the only member of NATO and the EU in the region, it could be a «positive channel» in many ways – but only if we overcome old-fashioned prejudices and stereotypes. It would be most fortunate if we could see NATO, for the first time, as an organization through which we can serve our own positions and outlooks – as has been the case with the EU for many years now.