Greece and the Greeks have paid dearly a number of times over the last decades, for nationalistic outbursts that in fact ignored the national interest, international balances of power, and our ability to handle critical situations.
From the Cyprus problem to the Macedonian naming issue, we have only managed to perpetuate the problems and to rush to catch up with situations that have been created at our expense.
Political leaderships usually follow popular, sentimental, patriotic outbreaks, as they do not dare to confront dominant currents in public opinion, for various reasons. When conceptions that level everything and rhetorical outbursts supplant substance and common sense, athe national interests are sacrificed.
What is worse, whoever dares to resist the dominant currents are accused of being less than patriotic, or are viewed as an elite that is out of touch with public sentiment. But true patriotism is defending the national interest, guided by the truth, a consciousness of history, the exploitation of international power balances, and effectiveness.
We have reached the point where FYROM politicians, unlike our own, exhibit a greater sense of responsibility, and do not quarrel publicly amidst crucial negotiations.
Here, the only thing dominating the news is a sterile partisan clash, with name-calling and barbs, at a time when moderation and logic should have prevailed.
As so many times before, we have transformed the negotiations on the naming issue into a domestic political issue, instead of pursuing a fundamental convergence of viewpoints. But foreign policy is not decided on the streets and squares, or with futile polarising clashes.
We are in danger once again of being trapped in a divisive paroxysm, in a competition to determine who is more patriotic, and in the end of being accused by international public opinion of extreme nationalist aspirations, which in fact we do not have.
All this is true because certain figures insist on placing their narrow, partisan interests above the interest of the country.