OPINION

Anti-Americanism still rife in Greece

Greeks have the most negative opinion of American policy among the citizens of 63 different countries, according to a recent poll which showed Greeks’ disapproval to be far more widespread than in the other countries. Indeed anti-American sentiment in Greece has increased since 2004, according to the survey conducted by TNS ICAP and the Gallup International Association. The research revealed that 87 percent of Greeks believe the United States is having a negative effect on efforts to maintain world peace; 78 percent of Turks and Argentineans feel the same way, followed by 76 percent of Swiss citizens, who, rather surprisingly, clinch fourth place in the scale of disapproval. Greeks display a similar scorn in their assessment of the role of the USA in the war against terrorism, with 78 percent expressing disapproval, followed by 77 percent of Turks and 71 percent of Argentineans. These countries maintain the same harsh stance when questioned about the role of the US in tackling poverty. Greeks top the chart again with 80 percent expressing disapproval, followed by the Turks with 75 percent, and the Argentineans and Swiss in joint third place with 71 percent. Only when questioned about America’s policy regarding the protection of the environment do Greeks slip to fourth place, with 78 percent expressing a negative opinion, behind Switzerland with 85 percent, Germany with 83 percent and France with 79 percent. The results of this survey should be of great concern to policymakers in Washington who follow developments in Greece, particularly those who have drafted US policy on issues of direct or indirect national interest. Such colossal percentages expressing such widespread disapproval prove that anti-American sentiment in Greece exists on all social levels and across different age groups, irrespective of citizens’ ideological and political convictions. Such high rates of discontent would not exist if the USA had not made political choices that brought them into conflict with the main body of the Greek people. A key point was undoubtedly Washington’s support of the military dictatorship established in Greece in 1967. And the definitive rift occurred due to the US’s role during Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus in 1974. Since then, the White House and the State Department have preserved the strong anti-American sentiment, thanks to their stance on Cyprus and Greek-Turkish relations. In view of the above, the US invasion of Iraq, its detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, its secret CIA jails, are hardly likely to encourage Greeks — and other Europeans — to revise their negative opinions of the USA.