OPINION

Greece?s role in the Libya campaign

Muammar Gadhafi has always been somewhat ?irrational? in his politics, though at the same time a ?friend? of many European socialists, from former Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky to Greece?s Andreas and George Papandreou. Suddenly the world realized that he is nothing more than a harsh dictator and, for purely ?humanitarian? reasons, a number of NATO member states engaged in military operations against Libya.

It is obvious that for reasons that are not of our concern here and because of internal upheaval, the Arabic arc that flanks Europe to the south and east is undergoing a process of shifting spheres of influences and balances of power. Countries that are deeply involved in the affairs of these countries have, unsurprisingly, taken an active role in developments, and as such military operations are led by the United States, France and Britain. What is of interest, however, is not the alliance, which is implementing a rather vague resolution of the UN Security Council, but, rather, two collateral side effects of the ?Libyan crisis.? These are Germany?s stance within the framework of NATO and the tension created in Russia at the highest echelons of power.

The disagreement between President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is without doubt of interest to the broader geopolitical region, but, what is of particular significance to Greece is the stance adopted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who distanced herself from the issue. It is clear that Merkel wants to stop the focus from shifting to military operations in the Arabic world and to remain firmly fixed on the finances of her country and on the eurozone.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou preferred, in contrast, to adopt an indirect role in the war against Libya. One reason may be because he considers himself an expert on the management of international affairs. The second reason is that the aircraft of Greece?s NATO allies can run their operations from the American base at Souda on Crete or from the NATO bases at Aktio and Araxos, unless Greece objects.

Papandreou announced that Greece would participate in the operations, but only partially, as though this mitigates his responsibility for the consequences of military bombardment. Nevertheless, he hopes that Greece will benefit from this stance, though this remains to be seen.