Α. Greece in an environment of increasing geopolitical uncertainty.
We are living in times of great economic, political, social and geopolitical uncertainty. Every aspect of human affairs is in a state of flux or transition. Change is the only certainty.
Many factors contribute to this dynamic of change, which is gathering momentum, but whose ultimate direction and end-state remains unclear. These factors include:
- The sudden changes of position on fundamental issues of U.S. foreign policy, which are shifting some of the basic pillars of the post-World War II international order.
- China’s dynamic emergence, both as a global economic power, and also a global geopolitical player.
- The stabilization of the Russian presence and influence in the wider Middle East through the Syrian crisis. This is one aspect of Moscow’s increasing desire – and ability – to intervene in regional and international developments in the wider area of its geostrategic interests.
- The state of continuing tension and conflict in the Eastern Mediterranean and the wider Middle East.
- Europe’s weakening and the rising concerns regarding its present and, even more so, its future.
- The rising pressure of migratory and refugee flows on wealthier and safer regions, particularly the EU.
- The limited but stark rifts in the EU-U.S. transatlantic relationship.
- The economic, social and political forces that are calling into question the liberal democratic political order and the globalized economic model and are fueling the rise of extreme nationalist political movements.
- The reversal of democratic gains and the spread of authoritarian forms of governance that can be characterized as “illiberal democracies.”
- The constant threat of international terrorism and aggressive islamist fundamentalism, along with other forms of “hybrid” or asymmetric threats, including cyber-attacks.
Due to its geographical position, Greece has traditionally been more exposed to threats than other EU or NATO members, and these developments have had a further negative effect on Greece’s overall geopolitical environment.
Greece is rooted, geographically, historically and culturally, on the southeastern frontier of Europe and the EU and is situated on the fault line between the geopolitical tectonic plates of East and West, Europe and Islam, and the increasingly antagonistic relations between the West and Russia.
Greece’s geographic position has shaped its history and national character. It has been- and remains- a source of many dangers.
But it also offers many opportunities.
Therefore, the overarching strategic goal of the Greek foreign policy is to minimize the risks and maximize the opportunities arising from its geopolitical position. If we are to achieve this double goal, we must take advantage of the country’s significant geopolitical added value.
This belief is not the product of unfounded or intentionally inflated optimism. It is based on a positive but realistic evaluation of Greece’s geopolitical characteristics and the opportunities they afford in a region currently in significant flux.
Indeed, Greece’s geographical position is in and of itself a challenge. But we are not – and must not presume ourselves to be – bound by the constraints of geography.
We can and must see our geographical position as one of Greece’s principal comparative advantages, and not an inescapable constraint.
Advantages that render Greece a pivotal state in the Eastern Mediterranean.
In this region, Greece, as a member of the EU and NATO, increasingly stands out as the most stable, credible and in fact necessary partner and ally for the other EU and NATO member states, the U.S. and the West in general.
At the same time, Greece is a valid and serious interlocutor for other regional and global players, such as Russia, China and of course Israel and Egypt. With these last two countries in particular, our deepening and widening cooperation is steadily gaining weight and importance.
To play the role of a pivotal state effectively, and to convince others that we can carry this responsibility, we need first to develop and consolidate our own contemporary geopolitical self-awareness, and we need to do this with self-confidence and assurance, neither overestimating or underestimating our capabilities.
We need to look at Greece objectively. We need to see the bigger picture.
So, let’s look at Greece from above.