Only a society, a people, a nation which understands that its survival and prosperity depend on its determination, initiative and mental clarity can turn the challenges of History into opportunities instead of risks
In life, opportunities are often presented in the form of challenges; never, however, in the form of “god-sent gifts”. Lucky is the one who proves their competence and worth by responding successfully to the challenges that rise, and not the one who is “favored by the stars”.
In the late 80s, geopolitical developments in our region had become extremely favorable for Greece. The “fall of the walls” reconnected our country with the Balkans and the Black Sea, a location very familiar to us historically, from which the Cold War had brutally cut us off. However, we did not utilize the opportunity that had been offered to us. Today, a new historic phase starts. As major risks and threats are generated and accumulated in our neighborhood, “traditional allies” of the Western world are entering orbits of vague direction and unstable equilibrium, which reduce their geostrategic usefulness for the West and at the same time enhance the importance of our country as a bastion of geopolitical stability and democracy.
By internalizing the mentality of the “distressed orphan”, who should receive protection and assistance, we trapped ourselves for decades in social inertia and in the passivity of waiting for solutions “from outside and above”
In which way will Greece though, be able to take advantage of the opportunities that are offered by this historical situation? To answer this question, the postwar experience is particularly useful in showing us what to avoid. The dominant feature of that period was the varied efforts of the Greek government to emphasize and exploit the fact that the “border fortress Greece” was both an economically vulnerable and socially unstable country, which the Allies had to strengthen and support in multiple ways. The result of this perception for our entry in the international relations system has been negative in two ways. On the one hand, by being indeed vulnerable and volatile, we never managed to become reliable partners of our allies in order to transform our geographic location into a substantial geopolitical and geoeconomic advantage. On the other hand –and this is the worst effect– as a society we internalized the mentality of the “distressed orphan”, who should receive protection and assistance, and as a result we trapped ourselves for decades in social inertia and in the passivity of waiting for solutions “from outside and above”.
The current crisis is the product of our naive belief that we would be able to prosper brilliantly with no effort, just because we had the honor to join initially the extended “European family”
This unhealthy characteristic we paid, of course, at a very high price: the current crisis is nothing more than the product of our naive belief that we would be able to prosper brilliantly with no effort, just because we had the honor to join initially the extended “European family” and then its “hard core”, i.e. the monetary union! It turned out, however, once again, that adrift ships always end up on the rocks.
The current geopolitical challenges constitute a major opportunity for Greece to rise as a leading actor in the region, an essential pillar of the geopolitical and financial stability of the developed world for many decades. However, this would require a Greek society which is both internally solid and confident abroad, and which would be characterized by self-awareness about its limits and potential and by clear thinking about the nature of the problems besetting it. Unfortunately, though, as we are in the opposite situation, the challenges that we face are mostly perceived as risks rather than opportunities. The financial distress leads our society towards disintegration, because the well-established ideology of passive heteronomy, which has led us to the crisis, still prevails.
The naive question “what exactly have we been claiming for in the past six years with our anti-memorandum fight” still remains unanswered!
What is not understood is that Greece has already elicited all the possible support from its partners to address the crisis. The partners are neither responsible for the difficulties of the Greek people, nor are they their potential saviors –even more so from this time forth. There is no kind of negotiation that can make the Greek society wealthier, nor one that can give the prospect of development. Both the problems and their solutions lie within the Greek society. The naive question “what exactly have we been claiming for in the past six years with our anti-memorandum fight” still remains unanswered! Have we been asking our partners to pay our salaries and pensions? To lend us each year as much as we think we will need and then to write off our debt so as to lend us again next year? Is it our foreign partners’ fault that, while the hospitals do not even have the essentials, we keep on defending the attainments of clientelism and of any kind of unscrupulous parasitism? Is it an expression of national pride and independence to beg for the disbursement of NSRF funds (that is around 3% of the GDP we spend) so that essential components of social policy, such as kindergartens and nursery schools continue working, while at the same time we relentlessly demonize our partners? Is it some Hyperboreans, who do not like us, to blame for the paralysis and the corruption of the Greek society that brought it into the current situation?
There is no kind of negotiation that can make the Greek society wealthier, nor one that can give the prospect of development. Both the problems and their solutions lie within the Greek society
The emergence of the economy from the crisis, the geopolitical and moral upgrading of the country, its defensive armor against both longstanding and new (hybrid) threats, are all functions of the one and only question: will our society be awakened, mature and aware of the reality it lives in? In other words, will the society manage to become self-aware and historically autonomous, instead of assuming it will address its problems by passively attaching itself to or actively pestering its various partners?
Only a society, a people, a nation which understands that its survival and prosperity depend on its determination, initiative and mental clarity can turn the challenges of History into opportunities instead of risks. This is the field of ideas and politics we need to focus all our energy on, as this is the field in which the future of the country will be decided.