The world is changing and it is necessary that the diplomacy exercised by a country change with it. It is easy – and self-destructive – to sit back, ignore the changes and continue to use the same rusty toolset from decades past. Greek diplomacy is justifiably focused on relations between Greece and Turkey. And when we talk about diplomacy, we do not mean the Foreign Ministry but the totality of what Greece does to “promote” itself abroad, to push its financial interests and defend its positions.
An exportable prime minister, an energetic foreign minister and several other officials and ministers are not enough for this. There should be an entire governmental machinery behind them. Because an occasional visit, an amicable telephone call, or a meeting, can easily be lost in the din of Greek reality.
There is work being done in the Balkans, in Libya and elsewhere. There are also opportunities, however, that we are not making the most of. When we talk of investments we often look to the United States or larger European countries. However, Greece has lately been on the radar of an important international player, the United Arab Emirates.
It is a small country, but it is very wealthy, and it is looking to make a move in Greece. Joint military exercises are useful and make Greece an important regional “conduit of power,” as they also serve the interests of Israel. Anything more than that? A lot of talk, minimal results. A foreign diplomat, with long experience in the Gulf, shared how after a few meetings and coffees with officials of a country he was asked: “Are you and me going to continue wasting our time or will you bring us a project to do.”
It is important for Greece to come out of its shell and grasp the opportunities created by developments in our vicinity, but we must be practical. For example, we have developed close ties with Israel. We could not expect them to go to war for us but we could ask for assistance in two areas where we are severely trailing: The creation of a powerful lobby, especially in the United States, and the correlation of entrepreneurship, training and defense. The Israelis are well versed in both. In the past, they assisted Turkey in these sectors, with impressive results.
We currently have an important ally doing anything it can to strengthen Greece’s position and make it internationally popular. Its name is Turkey. It has managed to pick a fight with countries from New Zealand to France and the United States with deft skill. We should do more than rely on such services.