The launching of the joint US and British military campaign in Afghanistan met with a cool reaction by Greece’s government and citizens. Without doubt, people are concerned over the escalating tension in international relations but at the same time, they are aware that Greece is a small country which is far from the locus of the conflict, not just geographically speaking but also, and primarily, politically speaking. Greece’s foreign policy has, for many decades and regardless of the ideological affiliation of various governments, steadily favored cooperation with the Arab states and Iran. The Arab world has acknowledged the fact that Greece, which is steadily anchored within the Western alliance, is a modern Western country that has constantly promoted mutual respect, beneficial coexistence and interaction between the two worlds. No Muslim has ever criticized Greece of advancing the flawed and divisive paradigm of a clash of civilizations. Greece instead has historically displayed remarkable political consistency which renders it a bridge between the West and Islam. Greece should insist on the continuation of this role. Greece’s contribution to the military campaign would anyway be minor, regardless of the circumstances and even if it were requested. But Greece’s political contribution, by contrast, would carry great historical weight if it managed to persuade its partners to entrust it with the task of restoring the channels of communication between the West and Muslim countries even now that tension runs high. Greece is one of the most reliable members of the Western camp and hence is capable of persuading the Islamic world that the target of this sustained campaign is terrorism rather than the Muslim population – and this is because no Islamic country would suspect our country of using pretexts to promote Western geopolitical objectives. It is not Greece, of course, which will set the pace for the West’s major decisions. Realism dictates that Greece complies with these decisions. This, however, does not come into conflict with the efforts by the Greek government to contribute constructively to the understanding between the two worlds, whose relations are now put to the test.

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