We took over a country that was introverted and fearful towards regional and international developments. The foreign policy was based on passive adherence to the initiatives of others, but it was mainly based on inertia and stagnation. Through a central doctrine that bred inaction and shifted serious problems to a future down the line, the major foreign policy issues were progressing to the detriment of our country. In 2015, when we took over the governing of the country, the diplomatic prestige as well as the European and international role of Greece were downgraded due to the economic crisis, while the successive crises (refugees, wars, revisionism, etc.) in the area were shaping a tense environment.
Today, based on a patriotic, active and multifaceted policy, Greece has solidified its prestige and its strong role in the EU, and has upgraded or re-initiated its cooperation with world powers, but chiefly it has become a pillar of stability and peace in the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean. A striking example of this policy is the signing of the Prespes Agreement. It resolved the name issue based on what has been Greece’s stance for over 20 years. The practice (followed by over 140 countries) of recognising the neighbouring country as “Republic of Macedonia” was overturned, and North Macedonia recognised that ancient Macedonia, its symbols and history were Greek, while the framework was set for resolving the long-term problem that concerned commercial names, trademarks and brand names, a problem that had been troubling the business community of Greece.
Above all, though, Greece secured an enhanced diplomatic, defensive and economic role through the Prespes Agreement, not only in terms of the neighbouring country, but also in terms of the Balkans and Europe. By resolving this problem, the country paved the way for the ‘de-Balkanisation’ of the issues in the area, putting forward the best example on a Balkan and European level, whereby issues can be resolved with con sent and solidarity, without revisionism and nationalistic wall-raising introversion.
Driven by consent, peace and stability, but also by patriotism, Greece took steps that no other government had taken until now. However, by keeping all the channels of good neighbourliness and cooperation open with all our neighbours, even at the toughest times, raised issues that had never been raised in the past. For the first time ever, the abolition of the anachronistic and colonial system of guarantees became a condition for resolving the Cyprus issue. In the same spirit of patriotism, Greece encouraged Greek-Albanian dialogue, to resolve pending matters, while for the first time ever, it raised the issue of the Greek National Minority’s rights as a key condition for commencing Albania’s accession process. This had not happened when Albania joined NATO in 2009, nor in 2014, when the country was granted EU accession candidate status, with Greece imposing no conditions.
Today, our foreign policy is active, marked by undertaking initiatives towards consolidating peace, stability and co-development in the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean. By advancing the most significant inter-state initiatives for cooperation in the area and restarting the accession process of the Western Balkans (EU-Western Balkans Summit, May 2018), after a long period of stagnation, Greece pushed forward significant infrastructure projects in the area, as well as projects contributing to energy security. Thessaloniki assumed again a pivotal role in the development of the area. In this context, Greece made a decisive contribution in promoting peace and security in the Eastern Mediterranean and the wider area, where Cyprus is upgrading its regional role. The promotion of the strategically important EastMed natural gas pipeline demonstrates the role that the country can play in the energy routes of our area.
In this new geostrategic outlook – which includes the relations with China, the Summit with the countries of the European North, etc. – Greece is developing a foreign policy of solidarity and peace, a patriotic policy, whereby the country is not hiding from the world, but is getting out there, armed with the law and the international rules.
Lastly, after 24 years, and following a relevant report by Parliament’s Cross-Party Commission, the government invited Germany to negotiations to resolve the pending matter of the compensation claims and the payment of WWII reparations.