Greece is not only limited to its physical borders. The country has managed to expand and punch above its weight especially because it relied on the other Greece, the Greeks of the diaspora, who provided assistance at times of need and exerted influence in centers of power. Occasionally, overseas Greeks injected the country with ideas not familiar to the Balkan peninsula which led to the creation of stable institutions and flashes of reformism.
Today we stand at a very crucial crossroads. We are faced with very big challenges, the kind of which a country encounters every 40-50 years. Turkey has evolved into a major strategic problem. The migrant/refugee crisis will remain a problem for many years to come. On a domestic level, we have turned the page but the cost of prolonged decline and financial malaise is everywhere to be seen, from state institutions to military equipment.
We need alliances on all fronts in order to safely navigate the dangerous waters. Nothing is a given in the international system. Carefully as we play our cards – and we have done so in recent years – diplomacy these days is a bit like playing snooker in a dark room.
This is why the role of the diaspora and those with the means and sense of responsibility to exert influence where it counts is crucial. Look at what happened in Washington when a small group of determined individuals “invested” in a few but effective politicians and succeeded, thanks to the alliance with the pro-Israel lobby.
Unfortunately, the picture is not so rosy everywhere. The Greek diaspora in America has been deeply traumatized of late by a series of unfortunate incidents. The ever-present seeds of division have been reproduced across the Atlantic and will require prudence and deft handling to avoid serious and permanent damage.
The new generation of the diaspora must also come closer to Greece by following the example of some enlightened Greek Americans who take steps to address this by bringing students here every summer, as well as by other initiatives.
It is also time for the very wealthy Greeks who live around the world to take on the historical role shouldered by those who preceded them. Public relations and the Greek lobby should not be used simply to promote their own interests alone. Their homeland needs them to cultivate relationships of influence in Paris, Washington, Moscow, Berlin, Brussels, London – everywhere. We have no time to waste.