Between the USA and Russia

At any other time, the choice would have been self-evident but, in the age of oil pipelines, things are more complicated. As the rift between Russia and the West deepens, Greece is having to negotiate a labyrinth of geostrategetic and economic interests and make choices that will highlight its own priorities, based on its own interests. In the first half of 2009, Athens will assume the presidency of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. As in 2003 when Greece held the EU presidency and the US went to war with Iraq, Greece will be called upon to handle the «day after» the war between Russia and Georgia. It needs to be consistent there and defend the inviolability of borders, whether that applies to Kosovo or Georgia. If it is eventually forced to accept the fait accompli imposed by weaponry, it has to seek commitments to avoid unpleasant surprises in cases that affect it directly. As a matter of principle, Athens should continue to emphasize the need to peacefully resolve differences on the basis of international law, as well as to respect human rights, particularly the right to life, that every war violates. At the same time, there should also be a cool appraisal of Greek interests. The question for Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is a simple one: What country can exert more influence on the governments of Turkey (with regard to Cyprus, the Aegean, Thrace and the Ecumenical Patriarchate) and on the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (over its name)? The answer is America, but a self-evident observation is not enough. The Americans can exert influence on Skopje in order to resolve the name argument immediately, and to work toward a more balanced solution on Cyprus. If they don’t do that, then Athens will not be able to ignore the advantages of economic (and not only) cooperation with Moscow.