By Dimitris Konstantakopoulos
Greece appears to have now sunk into a deep silence, particularly after the rumble following the unexpected debacle of its big “No”. A silence that is only being interrupted by the national core’s convulsions resulting from each new blow struck by the Creditors; blows struck in the context of an overt dictatorship imposed on Greece by European governments, the EU and the IMF after the 5th of July and for the first time since 1974!
The Greek people and nation suffered a serious blow to their self-confidence and self-respect (with the help of the PM’s communication advisors). Greeks are presently fully immersed in uncertainty and, in some ways, are going through a period of mourning. They choose to deny reality, or not to think about it, as they can’t see any obvious solution but they feel that the worst is yet to come. The very soul of the people has been poisoned by the suspicion of a horrible betrayal by exactly those whom it entrusted with its fate: a familiar scenario in Greek history.
Greece’s economic mess is now worse than ever, having all the disadvantages and none of the advantages of the infamous “clash” with the eurozone.
In such a situation, it is only natural that the major changes currently underway, or about to commence, in the area of “foreign/defence policy”, go unnoticed. Of course even these terms are put into doubt, are losing much of their significance, becoming an empty shell in the context of a “debt colony”, as Greece was described by the current Foreign Minister before he becomes a Minister. As for the Greek political elite, in its totality, its national reflexes have long ago reached almost the point of brain death. As is the case of all Europe, in this field, Greece is on the markets’ and EU “automatic pilot” in economic matters, on NATO’s automatic pilot in foreign and defence policy matters.
Under the circumstances, Greece’s major pro-Israeli turn almost went unnoticed, as it did Athens’s move towards a full reversal of its longstanding Balkan strategy and the gradual alignment to American and German policies in the peninsula, especially in Kosovo. The various “arguments” construed here and there in order to justify such changes are of minor importance. Such arguments are just a repetition, in this case in the field of foreign policy, of the usual “blather” we hear when in need to justify a gradual alignment to the will of the Sovereign
And the Sovereign is now, more than ever, represented by the Creditors, and perhaps even more by the USA, which Mr. Dragasakis (2) rushed to thank just one day after the agreement/capitulation!
This path, if taken, will probably jeopardize the very existence of the Cypriot state, with an effort, in the coming months, to revive the idea of a solution of the conflict in Cyprus along the lines of the Annan Plan. If this happens, it will almost certainly lead to the extinction of the Greek population in Cyprus.
“War on Terrorism”
Athens’s “pro-Israeli” turn shall disturb the equilibrium and continuance of the Greek policy followed in this field over decades by almost all Greek governments, regardless of their ideological orientation. This equilibrium offered the advantages of relative security in Greece and Cyprus, a “special role” in the region and a colossal prestige for Greece throughout the Arab-Muslim world. It prevented Athens from becoming a part of the Middle East conflict and the related risks (it permitted for ex., more effectively than the various C4I systems, which never worked anyway, the safe conduct of the Olympic Games); it also helped the campaign condemning Turkey’s invasion and occupation of part of Cyprus.
The “pro-Israeli” turn started some years ago and accelerated during the period of the consecutive Memorandums, but it is only now that it takes such an overt character. The Minister of Defence, Mr. Kammenos, in the inflammatory statements made already some months ago, rendered Greece a partner and almost a “protagonist” in the “war on terror”. This “war” was started under Bush’s administration with the invasion and destruction of Afghanistan and Iraq. It was continued, despite some reluctance on Obama’s part, with the destruction of Syria, Libya, Yemen and certain African countries. It is now headed towards a new climax under the pretext of the “Islamic State”. It’s a known tactic: playing the hero when you are actually the villain.
The policy shift of Athens continued with the conclusion by Mr. Kammenos, on behalf of Greece, of the most advanced military cooperation agreement ever signed between Israel and any other country in the world except the USA! Visiting Israel, the Minister of Defence, who over the years has maintained excellent relations with the Israelis and enjoys their trust, spoke about the danger of Iranian missiles (!) provoking outrage and strong protests by Tehran.
Apparently, the rationale behind the move to closer Greek-Israeli relations is the fact that the two countries share a common “hostility” towards Turkey. It is unclear how much hostility there actually exists and how much the “idea” of such hostility it is used at times. It would however be an irony, if not a tragedy, should this policy will lead intto Greece’s and Cyprus’s integration, as economic protectorates, into a Turkish-Israeli zone of influence over the eastern Mediterranean region, under the overall aegis of Washington.
This is a prospect that the Greek government, all of a sudden and perhaps too late, seems to have realized in a panic, as it is clearly indicated in an article published in Kathimerini on 4 August 2015, entitled “questions about Israel’s plans”(3). Such “questions” should in fact be obvious right from the start, if Greek politicians’ decision making did not benefit their own vested interests and if they were in a position to make a really informed assessment of the international state of affairs.
When a country’s services, considered often as its “eyes” and “ears”, have never really belonged to that country, as in the case of Greece; when the media play along with the games of various foreign “patrons”; when such a country (and its political parties) do not have an independent mind and the ability to think analytically/synthetically, then it becomes very easy, even if not intended by its leaders (as it is usually the case), to lure and mislead, in much the same way as a matador does in bullfighting, where the bull is always able to sense where the danger comes from, but the only one thing he sees every time is the red cape.
Starting with Simitis’s(4) administration in 1996, the Greek ruling elites and policy makers have since surrendered policymaking in the spheres of economy and foreign policy/defence to the EU and the NATO, sparing for themselves the time to freely indulge in the country’s internal looting. When the time came to impose the Memorandums, they did what they were always good at doing in every crucial historical moment for the nation: instead of trying to prevent the economic attack, or at least negotiate at basic level a tolerable compromise, they quickly transformed into a kind of “collective Tsolakoglou” (5). However, the transformation of the two parties, which the Greek people have elected in order to resist to the memorandums, into protagonists of such policies, constitutes, more than anything else, a huge triumph for the Creditors as a whole, for the American strategic interests and for the “Empire”. It also offers to its various centres of power a unique opportunity, or so they think, to implement their most advanced plans, so far lying hidden in drawers, starting with their first priority, which is the full, final and legally binding dissolution of the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus.
Costs and benefits associated with Israel
Returning to the discussion about Israel, which is in fact a “hidden superpower”, the author of this article believes, and has always adopted the same position both in public and privately, that Athens, especially under the threat of a nation-wide disaster, must engage in sincere strategic dialogue with all international centres of power, without any exception, including Israel. However, in any such dialogue it is of crucial importance whether one is able to participate as an independent strategic entity or just comes to the dialogue as a “novice chess player” trying his luck in a match with Kasparov, if not only for eliciting personal gains from the association with him. By this we do not mean only Mr. Tsipras but the entire Greek leadership.
Especially Israel, with its huge influence over international financial system, over the EU, the US and the international media, is naturally in a position, should it so wish, to offer significant service to Greece in reaching an agreement – a perhaps painful but sustainable compromise – on the most pressing issue for the country in this historical juncture, which is none other than the economic war launched against it. This could be Israel’s contribution, in the context of an honest and difficult, but also crucial and thorough dialogue between two ancient Mediterranean peoples; unfortunately such a dialogue does not seem likely or possible yet, but should it were to take place it would truly laid new sound foundations for building a new and deeper relationship between the two nations.
The major threat to Greece at this phase is certainly not coming from Turkey, but rather by the “depredation” of the entire Greek state through its economic destruction pursued by the “Creditors”. The Turkey-threat has been used extensively by the West (and Israel) in the past, in order to contain Greek and Cypriot independence. In the current circumstances they may again use it, but rather as a secondary weapon.
But in order for such a help to be provided by Israel to Greece, Athens should have requested it and Israel should have wanted it. Athens did not request it (in fact we don’t know, not even now, what Athens really wants). And we don’t know what would be the Israeli answer.
Greece has of course, a powerful negotiation weapon for incentivizing Israel, the US and Germany, to stop our country’s destruction. All three of these centres of power would in fact dread the idea of Greece turning for assistance to Russia, China or the BRICS, given that our favourite partners and allies are actively pursuing our country’s destruction. Such a policy would be strongly welcomed from the vast majority of the Greek people; however, it is not one that Tsipras can take. All such decisions would in fact require a different type of leader, such as Andreas Papandreou or Makarios, or, better still, such as de Gaulle or Hugo Chávez; that is, it would require one of history’s great and original leaders with a deep understanding of Greek and global issues and, what’s more, an almost “missionary-like” commitment to saving the country.
The government’s entire policy strategy towards Russia was reduced into something like “put the left signal on, then turn right”. A Copy-and-Paste approach, engineered probably directly by the same “engineers” who originally conceived such tricks on behalf of the George Papandreou’s (6) administration (one could only wonder, did Tsipras really expected his fate to be different than that of George Papandreou, given that he too incorporated so many of the latter’s advisors?). When Schäuble realized that actually, nothing significant is taking place between Athens and Moscow, he publicly mocked the Greek prime minister: “if he can get a loan from Russia, he can go ahead and take it. We have no problem with it”!
The term “national issues” prevailed in Greece for denoting a number of external foreign policy issues of considerable national significance, because of their geographical proximity and/or related historical and political reasons. Such issues include for ex., the country’s relationship with Turkey, the Balkan countries and the question of Cyprus.
Yannis Dragasakis, deputy prime minister of the SYRIZA /Independent Greeks (ANEL) government
(in Greek: http://www.kathimerini.gr/826077/article/epikairothta/politikh/erwthmata-gia-ta-sxedia-toy-israhl) The article refers to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent visit to Cyprus where in discussions with President Anastasiades about closer cooperation between the two countries in the areas of energy and security, Netanyahu referred also to the trilateral cooperation between Greece – Cyprus – Israel. The article suggests that it is evident that Israel’s strategic decision is to restore its relations with Turkey. Netanyahu also questioned whether Greece, given the deterioration of the economic crisis and the continuing negotiations, would be able to continue its participation in the trilateral cooperation, with particular reference to this autumn’s forthcoming meeting between the three countries. According to the newspaper’s sources these remarks (made in the form of questions) reveal that the real reason behind Tel Aviv’s “anxiety” about Greece’s participation in the Tripartite is that this is an issue of negotiation with Turkey; Ankara would like to see either the dissolution of the tripartite or its transformation to a quadripartite with Turkish participation; this is also something that the US would like to see happening. The article also notes that in their recent visits to Israel, both the Foreign Minister N. Kotzias and Defence Minister P. Kammenos, made very explicit statements in favour of Greece’s cooperation with Israel and, in this light, the same sources wondered what was the true meaning of Netanyahu’s remarks.
Konstantinos Simitis, served as Prime Minister of Greece and leader of PASOK (Panhellenic Socialist Movement) from 1996 to 2004.
Georgios Tsolakoglou was a Greek military officer who became the first Prime Minister of the Greek collaborationist government during the Axis occupation in 1941-1942, after signing – on his own initiative and without the authorization of the then Greek government – the unconditional surrender of the Greek Army to the Germans. Although he maintained that his actions aimed at protecting the territorial and ethnic integrity of Greece by collaborating with Germany and averting Italian and Bulgarian influence, his claims were never given much credit and he is always remembered as the man who signed the capitulation of his country to the Axis Powers and the first official Quisling leader of occupied Greece. As such his name came in later Greek history to symbolise any act of betrayal, treachery or unconditional surrender to foreign interests.
Georgios A. Papandreou: son of Andreas G. Papandreou, Prime Minister of Greece from 2009 to 2011, of the PASOK (Panhellenic Socialist Movement) Government. He has won the 2009 Greek elections on a ticket of false promises for a “socialdemocratic correction”, then he led the country into IMF’s and EU’s neo-colonial control. His electorate campaign was based on opposing austerity measures, shown as inevitable by the then government of New Democracy, on the basis that he would fight tax evasion and corruption. After taking office he revealed that finances were far worse and soon after he initiated, by a declaration given while he was visiting Kastelorizo Island in Greece, the process leading to the first bailout agreement with the IMF and the EU on the basis of a heavy austerity programme. He resigned as prime minister in November 2011 (after announcing and then backing off from a national referendum on the acceptance of the terms of a eurozone bailout deal) and was replaced by Lucas Papademos, a former Vice President of the European Central Bank, who was appointed prime minister of a non-elected coalition government formed the conservative New Democracy, PASOK and the small nationalist LAOS (Popular Orthodox Rally) party. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has been criticised for extensive use of advisors and political staff who have also served the G.A. Papandreou administration from various positions (including Yianis Varoufakis, Elena Panariti, J. K. Galbraith and even the Lazard Group who also served as advisors to E.Veniselos when he was Minister of Economics in Papadimos’s coalition government)
(*) This article was published, under a different title, in the Greek newspaper “Paron”, on the 15th of August 2015. It is translated into English by Maria Komninou, who also wrote the notes.