OPINION

Foreign policy exercises

It’s needless to analyze why foreign policy-making constitutes a crucial political parameter – even more so in the case of Greece, a country facing many challenges on its eastern front. Every Greek government must tackle foreign policy and security issues, both at the bilateral and multilateral level, as effectively as possible on a front stretching from Thrace, across the Aegean down to Cyprus. Unfortunately, however, although the years go by and problems remain unresolved, and although international affairs have become increasingly complex in the wake of the sweeping changes of 1989-1990, Greece’s governments have clung to the same tactics: They deal with foreign policy issues in secret, they avoid giving the opposition any substantial briefing, they curtail the role of diplomatic mechanisms, they indulge in populist and opportunistic rhetoric; occasionally, they congratulate themselves on non-existent diplomatic triumphs, and when problems intensify, they adopt a «hardline» and «heroic» stance in order to convey the impression of a dynamic and unyielding position on our longstanding national interests. These methods have resulted in a foreign policy whose only constancy is its fickleness, and which tends to produce crises and compromises that bring little gain, if not actual harm. History repeats itself. The same, old-fashioned mentality is brought into play: A series of national issues are at a crucial stage, Greece is pressured to endorse unfavorable compromises, politicians faced with grim prospects peddle «inflexible» positions and ask for domestic support, and the issues take on a dramatic note with calls for national solidarity. With such foreign-policy practices, it is fruitless to anticipate positive results or serious responses from third parties in the international arena.