The result of the October 4 elections may determine the process of Greece’s economy; it could possibly mean some long-awaited changes in public sector, in the health and education systems.
However, it seems it will have little impact on Greek foreign policy. Why?
Greek foreign policy is not likely to change because an “unofficial” consensus has operated over the last decade between the two largest parties, New Democracy and PASOK.
The consensus is built on four fundamental pillars.
Firstly, the two parties have an on-going commitment to Greece’s political and economic integration into the European Union. Unlike other European countries there has not been any internal political conflict in regards to Greece’s on-going relationship with Brussels.
Secondly, both PASOK and ND agree on exercising Greece’s power of veto over FYROM’s NATO and EU ambitions if there isn’t an acceptable solution to the name issue (e.g. a compound name for all uses).
Thirdly, both Mr Papandreou and Mr Karamanlis have been strong supporters of Turkey’s EU aspirations. This support for Turkey’s entry into the EU has been an essential part of Greek diplomatic strategy, no matter which of the two major parties is in government.
They both understand that it is in Greece’s interest to have a neighbour that is obliged to comply with European standards and not behave like the region’s bully.
Fourthly, both New Democracy and PASOK support a solution for Cyprus based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation. Both Papandreou and Karamanlis favor a reunification plan, based on the rejected 2004 Annan Plan.
However, the above make up one side of the coin.
On the other side a newly elected Greek government will be tested by Ankara.
The test will take the form of another crisis over the Aegean.
That happened when Costas Simitis became Prime Minister in 1996 and was repeated eight years later during Costas Karamanlis’ first weeks in government.
Nevertheless, the recent history of Greek-Turkish relations has taught us one thing: neither having friendly personal relations nor being “best man” at your neighbour’s wedding can provide solutions to the decades-long disputes between both countries.
What the new Greek government will need to do is to create a brand new diplomatic strategy, based on Greece neighbors’ EU aspirations.
That should be the unwavering weapon of Greek diplomacy.
“No solution, no membership” should be the clear message from Athens to Ankara and Skopje.
The need for a new “Helsinki Process” (“A new ‘Helsinki Process’ is required”, Neos Kosmos, Aug. 18, 2009) – with a pressing timetable urging Ankara to fulfil its obligations as a prospective EU member – has become apparent.
For Greece to return to the centre of EU politics it needs to become a country that takes initiatives within Brussels, to strongly cooperate with its counterparts and to take active part in Europe’s effort for the creation of a Common Foreign and Security Policy.
The government that will be elected on October 4 will need to make onerous, but necessary decisions.
In a few words, it has to put Greece back on Europe’s diplomatic map.
Nicolas Mottas, born in Greece, is a doctoral candidate (Ph.D). He holds a degree in Political Science from the University of Westminster and Master of Arts in Diplomacy from the Diplomatic Academy of London. He writes for the Greek newspaper ‘Macedonia’ as a freelance international news editor and for Phantis www.phantis.com