Diplomatic faux pas exposes hypocrisy

Comments made recently by Greece’s ambassador in Skopje, who has since been recalled, could be dismissed as just another diplomatic faux pas if they were not so illustrative of the deep political hypocrisy which characterizes the stance of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis’s administration on bilateral relations with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and on other issues. This hypocrisy was confirmed by the stance adopted by all New Democracy’s Eurodeputies (with the exception of Antonis Samaras) in a recent vote on a European Commission report regarding the progress of FYROM-EU relations. ND endorsed the report while most opposition MPs rejected it. But the point here is not to criticize the government’s official line, nor the stance adopted by Dora Grosomanidou, who was earlier this month recalled from Skopje for suggesting that Greece should abandon a 15-year dispute with FYROM over the country’s official name. The real issue is the way that Grosomanidou chose to conduct herself. The lady in question is not a politician nor a commentator on public life. She was Greece’s representative in a foreign country. And she was speaking in this capacity. A diplomat has the right to express his or her views on policy and tactics, but only in documents and meetings within the diplomatic service. Publicly, diplomats are obliged to champion the official state line, whatever that may be. That’s what they are paid for. If they don’t want to do this, for whatever reason, they should resign. Grosomanidou spoke to The Financial Times as a «third party» – and one clearly set on persuading the Greek state to give up its current stance. She is not the only person in the diplomatic service who considers the defense of issues of national importance to be somewhat mundane. But Grosomanidou was not a diplomat who risked her career to make her views public, unethical though they may be. As became quite clear, she did what she did feeling safe in the knowledge that other diplomats and politicians – from ruling ND and opposition parties – have the same opinion, and in some cases feel even stronger. It is no surprise that Grosomanidou is not facing disciplinary action for her unethical behavior. She was simply transferred to a post at the headquarters of the diplomatic service. The critical issue, however, is not her behavior; it is the fact that, fully aware of her opinions, the diplomatic service chose to appoint her to such a sensitive post. This, combined with the fact that no measures have been taken against Grosomanidou, suggests that the former diplomat was made a scapegoat to prepare the ground for the government to abandon what many regard as a «lost cause» – exploited by the very people who did everything in their power to ensure it was a lost cause.

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