Need for vision

The Cabinet, which meets today to discuss foreign policy, would perform an invaluable service if it managed to combine its duty of mapping out the optimal ways of dealing with serious current issues with launching a process aiming to seek, determine and work out a comprehensive and visionary future strategy for Greece in this crucial domain. The overriding priority of such an approach would be to analyze international circumstances, to examine future trends, and to set out the main goals of Greek foreign policy. These goals should be in line with the international trends expected to shape the global political landscape for the foreseeable future. The fundamental problem with Greece’s foreign policy is that it has always been designed in a vacuum, that is without taking into consideration the international balance of power, let alone the underlying global trends. As a result, we have repeatedly experienced periods of unfounded optimism followed by feelings of persecution, as the world’s major powers once again supposedly get overwhelmed by anti-Greek sentiments. The root cause of the misunderstanding in both cases has been the near-total ignorance of the interests pursued by the key global players. This mistake has led Greek foreign policy to repeated failures and deadlocks in the past, when its room for states’ independent action on the world scene was much greater. Repeating this error today would entail far more serious, perhaps fatal, consequences. In the current unipolar world, where the formation of great regional blocs is the most effective means for states to pursue their interests, states have to re-examine and even redefine their national interests so that they can coincide with the broader interests of the union or bloc they are members of. For example, the far-sighted decision of the Greek and Cypriot governments around 15 years ago to promote Cyprus’s entry into what was then the EEC proved to be a far more effective means of publicizing the Cyprus problem abroad than any protests against Turkey’s illegal occupation, while it has also served as a catalyst in efforts to resolve the dispute itself. Present circumstances demand a similar show of prudence. The world is changing rapidly and pragmatism mandates the harmonization of national foreign policy with the precipitous changes occurring a global scale.