Informing foreign societies, not just governments

Informing foreign societies, not just governments

Over the next critical period, in the short term up until the new president of the United States is sworn in on January 20, but also it seems for the long term, the Greek side will have to engage in a constant and systematic effort to keep its allies and partners abreast of Turkish violations in the Eastern Mediterranean, in a calm manner, without unwanted hyperbole.

This will also require serious briefings, with facts and figures, for the people who shape public opinion in the countries that have some influence over developments in our region.

It is absolutely essential that not only leaders, but also the public, in democratic countries like the United States and our fellow EU member-states acquire a better and more detailed picture of what is going on, so that they are in a position to express their support or even nudge their governments in the right direction.

No matter how effective it might be, communication between the Greek government and those of other countries is simply not enough, nor are Greece’s interventions at international institutions and organizations.

This became more than evident in the case of Berlin’s attitude during the economic crisis, when the line of Angela Merkel’s government was, for some time, seen as aiming to punish Greece. This was driven partly by German public opinion, which had an inaccurate and partially distorted idea of what was going on and why Greece needed to be saved, and therefore reacted negatively to the bailouts.

The ability to manage any crisis relies to a great degree on having enough of the right information. So, what Greece needs is a proper information campaign, spearheaded not just by our politicians but also people with influence. Personalities with opinions that count often have a bigger impact because their views are seen as being more objective than the official line.

Those should be respected Greek journalists, analysts and academics with a solid grasp of the reality in other countries, people whose opinions are read and heard by their foreign colleagues and by the people in the countries where we want our positions to be more clearly conveyed.

Avoiding hyperbole is key to the success of such an endeavor. Appearing absolute, committed to just one truth, often leads to losing credibility even when you have justice on your side. It may pander to public sentiment at home, but is a recipe for disaster abroad.

What we need instead are clear and convincing arguments from people who know how other countries – and especially America and the big European powers – think and act. We are not talking about propaganda, but a presentation of positions and opinions – occasionally backed by maps and documents – that demonstrate the righteousness of Greece’s stance and explain its concerns.

Unfortunately, there are not many who can play this pivotal role, but they are out there and they need to be used. Everyone must play their part in this major national effort.

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