OPINION

A welcome convergence

Today, more than at any other time in recent history, Greece?s interests coincide with those of the United States. Washington is supporting the government in Athens because it fears the effects of Greece?s possibly contagious debt crisis. At the same time, America?s ties with Turkey are at a low point and cooperation on security issues is not as close as it used to be. The warming of Greek-Israeli relations is also welcome in Washington. Finally, the US administration seems to put most of the blame for the impasse with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on its Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski. Sure there are differences but, overall, there has rarely been so much convergence.

The trend is also reflected in the interest shown by the Obama administration. We should not forget that Washington — through the government?s treasury officials — sounded the alarm bell while Europe was still watching the early phase of Greece?s economic meltdown with indifference. Similarly, it is no coincidence that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Athens along with a delegation of senior officials or that Washington has for the first time in years posted an experienced and well-connected ambassador here.

One may ask what the cash value is of all that. Greece is obviously dependent on Europe, mainly the governments of Germany and France. These are the key players that make decisions about our fate. The Americans come second and that is reflected in foreign investments as well as military procurements.

Nevertheless, we can still take advantage of the circumstances and attract investment from the United States. There is clear interest in renewable energy sources and tourism. However, US companies are waiting to see if the crisis will change the way Greeks — notorious for their hostility to outside investors — do business.

There is also interest being expressed by American firms that specialize in seeking out the opportunities to be found in countries and businesses going through times of crisis. However the existing legal framework and reluctant banks are causing delays.

In any case, no one will help Greece unless Greece wants to be helped — and we must have something to offer in return. As long as Greece cannot guarantee that foreign visitors will be able to fly back home or sail to their favorite island destination on time, there is not much we can hope for.