OPINION

Reliable allies

Reliable allies

The stance of countries and governments, as is the case with people, is weighted and properly evaluated in difficult times. Everyone will claim to be a friend, an ally, a partner, a supporter of peace and stability. However, actions speak louder than words, and they matter most when times are hard; when being pleasant is no longer enough; when you are faced with tough dilemmas and your decisions are likely to leave certain people or countries dissatisfied. The latter will occasionally overreact, make false accusations, or even allegations of “criminal acts,” as was the case recently with an attack against Greece.

Athens has shown that when things get tough, when difficult choices and courageous decisions are required, it is in fact a reliable partner and ally.

In 1999, the war in Yugoslavia caused huge reactions in Greece. It is besides the point whether these were right or wrong. The fact remains that the majority of the Greek people were against the war. Nevertheless, the government of the time made the difficult, albeit crucial for NATO decision to green-light the use of Thessaloniki port by allied forces. 

Four years later, during the Iraq war, Turkey had a very different reaction. In spite of Washington’s calls, NATO ally Ankara did not allow US forces to deploy via Turkish soil, thereby delaying and weakening the creation of a northern front. Turkey’s unwillingness made the operation more difficult. It also meant a heavier death toll among US troops.

Now that Russia has invaded Ukraine, Athens and Ankara have once again adopted a different approach. Turkey’s cautious balancing between Ukraine and Russia may allow for certain economic and other benefits from Moscow.

Greece, on the other hand, took a clear stand. It sent equipment to Ukraine, a move which sparked a debate at home – a debate which (as long as all sides steer clear of populism) is healthy for Greece domestically, but more importantly is useful internationally as it demonstrates to the country’s allies and partners that it was not an easy decision to make.

Ultimately, the message is loud and clear: Greece, which finds itself in a volatile region, a tough neighborhood, is pulling its weight in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans. It has actively shown itself to be a reliable ally and pillar of stability. This all-too-commonly used phraseology does not always correspond to reality. However, it holds true in the case of Greece. Under adverse circumstances, under different governments and at different time periods, Greece has not flinched. It has actively stood by its allies.

It is a quality that other nations ought to appreciate and take into consideration in their foreign policy formation. If they do not, not only would they be unfair to Greece. Worse, even, they would be harming an evidently reliable partner that contributes to the stability of its region and in a crucial way to the Euro-Atlantic security architecture.