OPINION

Greece, Europe and the rest

The media spotlight next week will inevitably fall on Prime Minister George Papandreou’s meeting with US President Barack Obama. If we want to be realistic, however, we must admit that Greek-American ties are not as important as they once were. Even had he wanted to, Obama would not be able to influence John Paulson, the hedge fund manager, nor anyone else. Greece has nothing to expect from the Americans, either in terms of investment or some sort of support to facilitate borrowing. Greece is purchasing fewer and fewer weapons from the USA. Even though past US presidents have spoken of a «strategic relationship,» the truth is we have little to give or take from the US. Greece’s interests these days, rather, go through Berlin and Paris. That is where the game of rescuing Greece is being played and all of the big companies and banks are directly dependent on the EU. We may be an undisciplined, spoiled and somewhat problematic piece of the EU jigsaw puzzle but our interests nevertheless lie with Europe. That does not mean that Greece should not make overtures to countries that have something to offer. China is a good example, though Greece nearly shot itself in the foot with its handling of the Cosco case. The Chinese love Greece and they see it as an investment foothold in Europe, while Greece almost closed the door on them for the sake of some well-paid unionists and foolish PASOK officials. The Middle East is another example. Greece paid the price for supporting the Arabs in the 1980s while leaving the benefits to countries like Italy and France. Now that Greece has a president with a solid reputation and connections, it’s time it made this work to its advantage. The Middle East is our backyard and it is a wealthy region. First, however, Greece must get its act together. If we continue to have a corrupt state and crooked unions that ward off investors and capital, we will end up being the poor underachievers of Europe.