Preparing for the storm

Greece is going to need nerves of steel over the next days and weeks, as its veto of FYROM’s NATO membership is certain to irk Washington and other parts of the world. The prime minister seems ready to face the first major challenge in Bucharest and he is probably enjoying the fact that his handling of the issue will add a certain air of Andreas Papandreou to his profile. The real battle, however, will come later and this will require a very cool head. Greece will get slammed on a global scale. Few understand its position and no one, but no one, knows what we’re on about when we start going a few hundred years back in history. Greece has strong arguments that do not need to be corroborated by archaeologists. As Archbishop Iakovos used to say – with that rare combination of Halki Seminary wisdom and Madison Avenue marketing smarts – «Americans stop listening when you go back too far. Talk to them about business interests and security, and they’ll get it.» Greece must also expect a backlash from Skopje. We shouldn’t be surprised if they baptize every public square Bucephalus just to get under our skins or if they find «innocent» ways to harm Greek business interests in their country. We must also keep cool in dealing with the USA. Marching and beating our chests in front of the US Embassy never brought anything more than self-satisfaction. Let us face Washington with the calm, confident manner of a country that has nothing to fear, and say, «Sorry to ruin the party, but these are our interests and those are yours.» Greece will have to think about how it will cash in on the veto as soon as the summit is over. It will no longer have to have talks chaperoned by the US deputy secretary of state; it will no longer have to prove to America that it is behaving and it must enter into negotiations with a clear position and with confidence.

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