Greece in Washington

Think-tanks on the Balkans

by Thanos Veremis

(“Kathimerini”, May 27, 2001)

There was a time when Greek visitors to the Washington “think-tanks” met with hostility and sarcasm. Staff at these institutions in the American capital identified us all with the incomprehensible foreign policy of our governments, thereby holding every individual responsible for the political leadership.

Those days are gone and Greece is now looked upon as a serious country with a stabilizing mission in the turbulent western Balkans. This change in attitude is mainly due to the constructive role of Greece in the region, to having re-aligned Greek-Turkish relations within the confines of the European Union subsequent to Helsinki, and finally to the Republican government’s apparent change of opinion on the sagacity of bombing the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Those think-tanks which lean towards the Republicans, the Heritage Foundation topping the list, make no secret of their contempt for Madelaine Albright and her team for their decision to involve the U.S. in an adventure which led to painful repercussions for the Balkans and a difficult withdrawal for the American troops. At the more censorious CATO Institute, the present author was obliged to explain why Greece did not veto the NATO war decision. It is paradoxical that right-wing CATO is, on the whole, in agreement with our own Greek Communist Party in asking for NATO’s immediate withdrawal from Kosovo.

But at working lunches of Democratic Brookings and CSIS, the present writer discovered that even those who supported the 1999 military solution seem to have regretted it because this extreme action let the Kosovo Liberation Army and all its off-shoots loose in the area. There is then a sympathetic ear for the Greek proposals for solutions to this and to other problems. The Greek Foreign Ministry should, then, be a busy hive producing proposals in the vein of the interesting “Kofos solution” which was recently published in Kathimerini (English edition, March 2, 2001). This proposal for an interim administration in Kosovo is talked about more in Washington than it is in Athens. Ideas like this and sober-minded attitudes towards Greek-Turkish relations are gradually rebuilding faith in the credibility of Greece, and are making it possible to communicate with all those who contribute to the formulation American foreign policy.


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