Analysis on the Impact of the European Crisis in Greece’s Geopolitical Status Quo

THE COMING COLLAPSE OF GREECE

AND THE DECONSTRUCTION OF SECURITY GEOGRAPHY IN EUROPE

 

THE DEMONISATION OF GREECE

AND ITS INEVITABLE GEOPOLITICAL CONSEQUENCES

Dr. Konstantinos Grivas[*]


A fact that leading groups in Europe and the USA don’t seem to have grasped yet is that the oncoming financial collapse of Greece and its exit from the Eurozone, which appears to be pursued by a substantial part of European leaderships, is likely to have large-scale consequences in the entire security architecture of Eurasia.

According to the grapevine, a considerable part of European leaderships believes that the only consequences of expelling Greece from the Eurozone will be purely financial and which will be readily absorbed. At the same time, they will be removing the rotten Greek apple from the healthy Eurozone basket and the Euro fetish shall be cleansed from the impurity.

In other words, Greece has been turned into the scapegoat on which all other European countries unload all responsibility for the current state of European economy. Greeks are collectively described in terms that do not stand to serious criticism, neither for Greeks nor for any other people, like “thieves”, “slackers”, “crooks”, and mainly as “people who spend more than they earn”. Yet, no matter how much blame (and there is indeed much blame to go around) one places on the Greek political system and the Greek people in general for the current situation, the mistakes were not committed without help. Apart from the fact that overall European policies -within which Greece existed as well- were what they were, there was an enormous influence of the EU and individual powerful countries -such as Germany- particularly after 1996 within Greece itself. This appears to be as forgotten today, as is the fact that the Euro was not created as much as an end in itself, but rather as an intermediary step towards political union. Today, however, it has become a fetish and the obsession in numismatic stability and the application of counter-inflation policies have been rendered dominant -if not exclusive- goals of European leaderships, guided by Germany. This fact, combined with a moralising/punishing stance vis-à-vis the “sinful” Greeks, in essence prohibits the offering of any true financial assistance for the Greek people, which is riddled with adversity. The “help” is nothing but a further widening of high-interest loans, with the addition of harsh measures that aggravate recession, reduce state income and render loan payoff even more difficult. The Greek people have suffered a tremendous decline in their standard of living that is unprecedented for any post-WWII west European country and which is expected to plummet even further, reaching cataclysmic levels, should Greece be ostracised from the Eurozone.

This stance on behalf of our European partners has created deeply negative feelings in the large majority of the Greek people. Ranging from the bitterness many feel for the “cruelty” of other Europeans (notably Germans and north Europeans), up to and including extreme conspiracy theories, according to which Greece is targeted by dark powers aiming at destroying the country so as to achieve some sinister, underground geopolitical agenda.

This fact brings back long-forgotten memories from the German occupation years, but also from the multitude of violent interventions by powerful European countries, which have been marking Greek history from as early as the birth of the modern Greek state, following the 1821 independence war. The most significant and most negative memories, however, are those of the German occupation. Indeed, although many years have passed since that time, memories will be very hard to erase. For instance the author hereof has the opportunity of coming in direct contact with modern Greek history every time he visits his birthplace and gazes upon the ruins of his old family home, which was destroyed when the German occupation army burned the entire village to the ground in 1944.

The above observations may be cause for many to disagree or even become angry, believing that the Greeks have absolutely no right to feel the way they do; that Europe is doing all it can to help them, using European taxpayers’ money; and that it is outrageous to be the recipient of such reactions in return -instead of gratitude. Furthermore, one might suggest that it would be good for the Greeks to keep in mind that the modern Greek state was established as a result of a military intervention on behalf of the united fleets of Great Britain, France and Russia in Navarino, at a time when the Greek revolution seemed to be overpowered by the Ottomans. Lastly, one may maintain that should Greece wish to remain in the Eurozone, all she has to do is adopt the measures she is asked to. It may in fact be so. Perhaps the Greeks have it all wrong. This, however, is totally unimportant as regards the geopolitical consequences that might arise.

The fact still remains that the vast majority of Greek citizens is overwhelmed by deep feelings of bitterness, humiliation and rage against the leaderships of north European countries’ leaderships -mainly Germany- with some people actually feeling hatred.

Such feelings are expected to hit paroxysmal levels in case Greece is forced to exit the Eurozone -or should the financial measures she is required to adopt in order to stay therein be more austere.

It should be noted that these negative feelings and negative views on the policies of north European countries vis-à-vis Greece are far more intense among younger people.

So, regardless of whether these views and feelings are correct, well-documented or even fair, it is an undeniable fact that they do exist. And this creates a dynamic that can totally alter Greece’s geopolitical orientation in the years to come and lead her in a complete breach of relations with the West and the question that emerges is whether the West actually wants such a thing. Or even whether the leaderships of European countries and the USA alike, have even considered the possibility of such an eventuality, or whether they simply think that the problem is merely a financial one, ignoring its wider geopolitical dimensions.

THE TEARING DOWN OF THE BRIDGE

BETWEEN THE WEST AND THE MIDDLE EAST

First of all, the West must decide whether, with the vague political geography that has been created in the Middle East and with the open fronts in Syria and Iran, it does want to tear down the geopolitical bridge connecting it with the area in question.

Cynics may, of course, think that in these matters people’s feelings and views are of no importance whatsoever. What is important, are the choices made by the political leadership. So, just like Greece was used in 1999 as a springboard for NATO forces against Serbia -contrary to how the vast majority of the Greek people felt about it-, the same is bound to happen in the future as well. This view, however, does not take into consideration the fact that the current political system in Greece is collapsing rapidly. If the financial situation worsens even further, the political entities that will be created shall have to promote and adopt extreme anti-west positions -if they want to survive politically. Furthermore, if the even more cynics were tempted to think that the armed forces could intervene and ensure the country’s westward orientation (as was the case in 1967 with the Colonels’ coup), they should bear in mind that today -except for the fact that a coup d’état is totally out of the current political and social reality- anti-western views are far more extreme within the army than they are in the general population, and particularly among the more junior personnel.

Naturally, Greece is by no means the only bridge between the West and the Middle East: Turkey (which is much more powerful) is also there. Yet, is the West actually in a position to accept such a large geostrategic upgrade of today’s Turkey? Of a highly contradictory Turkey in terms of its geopolitical identity and relations with the West? Does for instance France actually want to upgrade Turkey that much, as far as western strategy is concerned, at a time when such intense friction has been created between the two countries by the Armenian genocide denial penalisation? And what will happen if this “upgraded Turkey” decides to adopt extreme policies against the Kurds?

And what will happen if Turkey’s relations with Israel deteriorate further? Will the West be dragged in favour of Turkey in these disputes? And what will happen if Turkey itself slips towards some form of anti-western Islamism in the future? Are all those in charge of the West certain that such a thing will never happen?

Speaking of Israel, it would be useful to remind one that over the past years Greece, the Republic of Cyprus and Israel have significantly strengthened their relations. So, Greece and the Republic of Cyprus have, in essence, created a geopolitical bridge connecting Israel with the West, the significance of which has been potentially upgraded, following the rapid changes in Middle Eastern political geography. Consequently, the collapse of Greece will possibly weaken (to a point of neutralising it) the dynamic of these relations and lead to a further intensification of Israel’s feeling of isolation -with everything that such an eventuality might bring in the future.

Moreover, Greece’s financial collapse will inevitably have very serious repercussions in the Greek Armed Forces’ deterrence and fighting capabilities. This fact, combined with the constant problems between Greece and Turkey and the continuous strengthening of the Turkish Armed Forces’ capabilities, may possibly further destabilise the relations between the two countries, leading them even to a hot incident. Does the West really wish a military confrontation between two NATO forces? And has the West actually thought of the consequences such a prospect may have on the Alliance’s deterrence role?

POST-NATO GREECE AND RUSSIA

If one feels that the above remarks are too theoretical, one should simply consider that if Greece collapses financially, she will face an immediate problem of survival. In that case, she will literally have to auction off her strategic position. And, quite possibly, the par excellence interested party shall be Russia, in order to acquire access to the East Mediterranean. The vast majority of Greeks are pro-Russian and consider Russia as the most important country capable of helping Greece. In a nutshell, if Greece is allowed to collapse and Russia makes its move, the latter can literally buy the former as a country and win the hearts of the Greek people, appearing as a deus ex machina. Greece, however,is a NATO member country. Has anyone actually considered what will happen to the Alliance’s power of deterrence if a member thereof is filled with anti-West feelings and at the same time is dependent on Russia, having forged a powerful geostrategic relation with it?

Of course, one might observe that the Cold War is over and the relations of Russia with NATO and the West are generally good. Are they certain that things will still be like that in the future? The eastward expansion of NATO and US antiballistic defence are only two of the factors threatening to disturb the relations between East and West in the years to come. And what will happen in a similar scenario of deteriorating relations between Russia and the West if NATO’s strategic role has been paralysed?

Incidentally, it is quite peculiar how other countries (like Estonia) have taken an active role in the negativity campaign launched against Greece, since such countries will be among the first to suffer the consequences of a politically deconstructed Europe and a NATO with limited deterrence capabilities.

The cynical approach would be to oust Greece altogether from NATO and all other western institutions; in this case, NATO’s cohesion would be enhanced. It would, however, bring us back to what we mentioned earlier: that a huge breach of western geostrategic continuity would be created at the crucial point of its contact with the Middle East, leading to a disproportionately great reinforcement of Turkey’s geostrategic role.

Moreover, should Greece be forced out, or opts to leave NATO voluntarily and strengthens her relation with Russia, then her rivalry with Turkey takes on a whole new dimension. In such a case, the antagonism between Greece and Turkey, which can easily escalate to a military conflict within a similarly decomposed setting, might readily become a dispute front between NATO and Russia.

Unless, of, course, the plans of Germany and its surrounding countries include the formation of some sort of unilateral strategic relation with Moscow, outside the framework of NATO, so as to prevent the prospect of tension in Euro-Russian relations. Is that something that Great Britain and the other European powers (not to mention the USA) actually wish?

All of the above may appear exaggerated to many -and it may indeed be so. However, the fact still remains that a large proportion of Greeks feel humiliated and betrayed by Europe. Another feeling sweeping through Greek society is that the European Union, led by hegemonic north-European countries, does not want Greece among its ranks. If this is actually the case, then the Greeks had better know so; and the European leaderships should know that a breach in relations might be complex and have wider geopolitical ramifications -except for the obvious financial ones. The least that can happen is a serious malfunction in the geostrategic contact between the West on the one hand and the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East on the other.

THE UNITED EUROPE VISION COLLAPSES:

It should also be stressed that the Greek people was, until very recently, among those who wished the most a common European future -one of the most “Europeanist” peoples. This anti-Europe bitterness becomes gigantic exactly due to these expectations being disproved and may take on uncontainable proportions, particularly among the younger generations.

The same expectation for a common European future and the integration of Greece in a single European identity has been a vision and a goal shared by the author hereof as well. As a matter of fact, together with Zacharias Michas we have co-authored a book on this subject, entitled «2021, ελληνική αμυντική στρατηγική για τον 21ο αιώνα» (2021, Greek defence strategy for the 21st century), in which we stressed that the country’s defence strategy vis-à-vis Turkey would have to be combined with the kind of methodology that would enhance Greece’s course towards a common European future. Please note that the book was officially presented in fall 2006 by the current Vice-President of the Greek government, Theodoros Pangalos; the MP and subsequently minister in the Nea Demokratia governments, Aris Spiliotopoulos; and the current political leader of the Demokratiki Aristera party, Fotis Kouvelis.

At the end of the day, even if all of the above is totally wrong, European citizens will have to consider whether Greece is merely an isolated case and whether the unravelling of European cohesion stops here. Are they indeed convinced that the role of scapegoat shall not be passed on to another country? How about northern European peoples: are they truly certain that by “cleansing” the Euro’s “healthy” financial core from its southern “ballast” they will actually create the “perfect” European Union of their dreams, or will this lead us to a deeply wounded and divided Europe, threatened to be further broken down to its constituents -the national states- which will return to their “state of nature” (according to Hobbes), i.e. bellum omnium contra omnes? If Europe’s leaders haven’t even examined the possibility of the geopolitical consequences brought upon by the increasing pressure on the Greek people, then they are dangerously inadequate. This means that Greece has no place whatsoever in such a Europe of non-existent leaders and that perhaps she should take the initiative on her own and totally reorient herself geopolitically, while it’s still early.


[*] Konstantinos Grivas teaches Geopolitics at the Evelpidon Hellenic Army Academy and Geography of Security at the Athens University Department of Turkish and Modern Asian Studies. He lectures at the Hellenic National Defence College for high ranking Armed Forces officers and at the College of National Security for high ranking Police and security services officers. He was special advisor to the Hellenic Republic Minister of Defence, Panos Beglitis.

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