/  STRATEGIC AFFAIRS   /  Greece’s Policy at NATO

Greece’s Policy at NATO

rticle on Greece’s reaction to the Ministerial meeting of Defense Ministers at NATO.

Dr. Marios P. Efthymiopoulos is a Policy Scholar of the South-East Europe Project at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC USA.


This Article talks about Greece’s posture at NATO affairs. It estimates that Greece’s positions vis a vis NATO, may change in the context of new initiatives that are in need to boost Greece’s Foreign Policy objectives and “ease” the financial crisis that has occurred in the country.


Greece should be willing to take foreign and security initiatives at NATO, irrespectively to the financial downturn that has been going on lately, as long as they fulfill the needs of the Alliance and the country, in a more practical sense.


Greek Minister of Defense Evangelos Venizelos discussed Greece’s readiness for such actions, during his primary speech at the two-day recent Ministerial-level meeting at NATO. With this move, Greece seems to signal that it’s willing to play an important role in Southeast European security coo-operation and integration to the Euro-Atlantic structures of countries that are currently not at NATO. Greece has the tools, the opportunity but also the reasons for a comeback. The Minister re-affirmed his commitment to the Kosovo Force (KFOR) NATO-Led operation, while at the same time seemed willing to re-examine Greece’s initiatives at a NATO level.


“Greek Armed Forces presence in Kosovo will remain. They are needed there. This is our national interest”. Mr. Venizelos also added that Greece has an obvious national interest; an important key point that has not yet been mentioned since the end of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. During the games, a NATO operation for air surveillance was considered of national interest. It was an initiative taken by Greece and the United States at a NATO level that was successful. On other key points of these two-day sessions at NATO, Greece reinstated that NATO-EU relations should evolve practically, operational capabilities of the Alliance in Kosovo and Afghanistan should be re-examined, but also means and deeds of the so-called NATO financial burden sharing amongst alliance member countries. Thus, these are the key subject matters that the Greek government would like to negotiate and/or take initiatives on amongst others.


Caught in the grip of a major economic recession, Greece has been disengaged from other national policy issues for the last six months, but they are now trying to undo the world’s image of a freefalling financially Greece. The first steps were made quite clear at the NATO meeting.


Questions that are therefore raised: are we to expect a strategic turn of Greece, from low politics to higher than usual policies? Will Greece finally resort to new and attractive to the Alliance and the U.S. political forms of negotiation tools? Is Greece ready to negotiate or take new initiatives, as there seems to be a downturn in relations in between Turkey and Israel in the Eastern Mediterranean? Will Greece portray a true westernized ability to negotiate, take initiatives and implement policies of both the EU and NATO?
The new Strategic Concept of NATO is expected to be finalized in November, during the Heads of State Lisbon Summit. It is expected to be a comprehensive but simple concept, and include all the points negotiated amongst alliance members. It is a political concept that will be implemented following the summit by the military committee of NATO. Greece is by that time expected to take an initiative vis-à-vis NATO, in terms of a jointly agreed operational planning, legalized in terms of NATO’s communicational skills. Financial burden-sharing, is something that Greece is now willing to discuss as was the case initially with the United States.


Greece’s time has come to change, in the level of political implementation. We are soon to expect a turning point in its external relations agenda with more initiatives closer to the US needs.


What is to be said is that Greece’s credibility and sustainability not only financially, but also politically (e.g. NATO level) but also socially is at stake. If therefore NATO is therefore looking for initiatives, Greece is getting ready to do just this. NATO’s interests are of sudden high national interest to the state.


Greece is expected by the time of the summit meeting in November 2010, to have discussed bilateral and multilateral relations on NATO issues between member-states, they will discuss further enlargement of NATO in South-Eastern Europe, one of which however the country seems to keep a stable but sensitive position vis a vis known issues in the region, but yet seems keen in resolving as well. Greece will re-draw its relations with the United States and will finally re-draw post NATO’s Strategic Concept, its national strategic dogma; one that will however be surely affected by the current financial recession of the country.


Greece will concentrate on multilateral cooperation for the long term and the willingness of the state to attract world attention by being more involved in operations of strategic importance, such as naval protection against international piracy, international issues of terrorism linked with drugs and migration affairs, policy application in cyber-defense issues, and protection of passages, while international organizations operate under mandates.


Concentrating towards the U.S.-EU-Greece relations, it is estimated that all sides will be positively affected. There is a new sense of co-operation and sustainability of support to each other. Greece as a member of the EU, will portray a clearer sense of pure Euro-Atlantic, South-Eastern European co-operation and willingness for integration of countries willing to join NATO. The United States’ support toward this aim will greatly enhance Greece’s ability and willingness for further effort, to overcome all obstacles and at the same time re-draw Greece-U.S. relations, for an even further and exclusive practical way of co-operation.


This article has been published by Dr. Efthymiopoulos on Europe’s World site (http://www.europesworld.org/NewEnglish/Home_old/CommunityPosts/tabid/809/PostID/1518/language/en-US/Default.aspx).