Greece. In the danger zone.
Europe is up next. The geopolitical landscape surrounding Greece is undergoing major changes. Are any serious politicians, diplomats, military personnel or academics analyzing current developments to see what it means in terms of the country’s national interests? Is anyone drafting a national strategy to meet the increasing challenges? I’m afraid the answer is no. The establishment is too absorbed in crisis management, elections and the next bailout tranche, while the country lacks the mechanisms that could and should be in motion irrespective of who’s in power.
There is good cause for concern. The threat of extremist Islam is a serious one. No one knows how far the movement has penetrated the Balkans, but clearly Turkey is a major ISIS passage. The danger of exporting terrorism into western countries is evident and Greece could be an easy target. Security services have taken measures and, of course, are counting on collaborating with other countries. Another threat is the rapid rise of illegal migration. Large numbers of people are fleeing Syria and Libya, refugees are multiplying and Europe is still caught up in red tape with respect to this issue. Northern European countries are aware of the alarming situation, sensing its political and social dimensions, but decisions are slow in coming.
Europe is up next. The once-glorious French-German axis is no more. France is facing serious, structural problems and does not feel on a par with Germany. Those naive enough to believe that a socialist French president would back Greece now know that this is not the case. Italy is gradually reaching a debt red zone and political solutions are dwindling. Europe might undergo yet another debt crisis, only this time it will not be limited to relatively small countries like Greece. The West’s relations with Russia is another issue. An obvious, realistic formula was developed in the case of Ukraine’s semi-Finlandization, but the threat of a Cold War revival is still present.
In a normal country, the prime minister and the opposition leader would get together and discuss these issues, while military officials, diplomats and analysts would be suggesting alternative policies, even a change in dogma in some cases.
Turkey’s position is the first and foremost issue that needs to be addressed. By all accounts, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has taken on an air of grandeur, while realizing that the Davutoglu dogma (The Davutoğlu Doctrine and Turkish Foreign Policy) has had the opposite effect with regard to Turkey’s interests. Westerners, and definitely Israel, treat him with suspicion, to the point of leaking the country’s efforts in developing nuclear weapons. It’s time to analyze the situation before it gets out of hand and we are caught without a plan.
Alexis Papachelas executive editor, Kathimerini newspaper.