By Panagiotis Ioakeimidis*

The crisis in Ukraine, along with other factors confirms that long-term geopolitical competitions have returned to the forefront and are creating new realities in our region

Regional issues, including security issues such as Greek-Turkish relations, are now viewed from the vantage point of this competition.

That, inter alia, makes it necessary (for the US) to normalise relations with Turkey and draw it into the Western camp (as a discrete regional power) and to stop treating it as a country gone astray.

This new reality also colours differently the stance of the US and its relationship with Greece.

Over the last years, we invested and relied to an exceedingly high degree on the US for our security. Yet, we cannot expect much.

Greece must now ask itself, under new conditions, what made it strong after the 1974 post-junta regime change, and what can make it even stronger today. In any event, it is not the relationship with the US, as important as it may be.

Greece became strong mainly due to three factors (beyond domestic economic, political, and deterrent force, and soft power).

Firstly, in 1981 Greece acceded to the then European Economic Community – which evolved into the current EU.

That was a crucial choice of the late PM Constantine Karamanlis designed primarily to bolster Greece’s security and independence and to free the country from various past dependencies (while at the same time re-establishing democracy and promoting economic growth).

Secondly, Greece acceded to the EMU/Eurozone and adopted the common currency. It was the euro that made Greece a truly strong state at the core of the EU.

This was the greatest investment in security that Greece made in the EU framework because the common currency, with which then PM Costas Simitis shielded the Greek economy in order to confront problems and adverse conditions, at the same time bolstered Greece’s security.

Had Greece not been a member of the Eurozone, no one could say who or what would contain Turkey.

Thirdly, Cyprus’ accession to the EU, beyond protecting Cyprus also in many ways bolstered the security, role, and influence of Greece in the EU system, regionally, and beyond.

Consequently, under the new geopolitical conditions, what can the next step be in order to further strengthen the security and power of Greece?

It is certainly not through alliances or three-way cooperation with various countries or by becoming completely attached to the US.

The next step and visionary objective is also linked to Europe, and it is the development of a common European defence – with Macron’s rationale – European sovereignty – with a provision for the guarantee of the external borders of the Union (beyond their protection), and a series of other arrangements.

For that reason, one needs, as in the past, specific initiatives from Athens as well. These must be political and not bureaucratic initiatives.

Bureaucracies are not suitable for long-term, visionary initiatives.

*Professor Panagiotis Ioakeimidis is a former ambassador-counsellor of the Greek Foreign Ministry and an advisor of FEPS and ELIAMEP. His latest book, entitled Achievements and Strategic Mistakes in Foreign Policy After the Regime Change, has been published by Themelio Editions.