Rethinking priorities

The decision of the government’s newly installed Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas to establish a committee of diplomats and academics who will be responsible for hammering out «Greece’s new foreign policy dogma» was a welcome gesture. Given that every Foreign Ministry official can enumerate the priorities of Greece’s foreign policy, the «new strategic dogma» should be something more than the familiar paradigms that the country’s premiers and foreign ministers have never tired of repeating. It will be interesting to see the outcome of this process. Foreign policy is, above all, about a nation projecting its power in its immediate environs. As a result, any «new strategic dogma» cannot be out of tune with Greece’s status on a global level, because that would only make us look ridiculous. Foreign policy can also be about negotiations within the context of the competition among the big powers, hoping to gain some rewards without actually having the necessary capabilities. This is what late statesman Eleftherios Venizelos tried to do, with disastrous consequences, although he finally succeeded in laying the blame on his political opponents, who were executed after a farce of a trial. However, aside from the risks involved in such a policy, Greece, as a member of NATO and the European Union, does not have the power – or in fact the willingness – to go it alone on the level of international relations. This is more or less the policy followed by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but Turkey is not Greece. Some analysts hold that Ankara’s foreign policy realignment – an overture to the territories of the former Ottoman Empire and a break with its traditional allies in the West – has given Greece some room for creative maneuvering in the region. That is a big temptation and one that carries enormous risks. Perhaps the main question that this new foreign policy body should try to answer is whether a country that has lost control of its economic policy can actually have any say on global foreign policy issues or whether it should start with raising itself back up off the ground.

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