The Ahepan Winter 2020 - 9

Prime Minister Mitsotakis addresses the audience at AHEPA's Epiphany
Banquet about the diaspora's role in U.S.-Greece relations in January 2020.

economic prosperity. Major investments by American companies, such as Microsoft, are planned in the coming years. The
Greek Prime Minister has committed himself to the implementation of a series of reforms so that the economy will become more
competitive. Additionally, Greece possesses the world's largest
commercial fleet operating all around the world; thousands of
Greek-owned ships transport good to and from the United States.
It is difficult to underestimate the geostrategic value of Greece
which enjoys a privileged position between three continents.
Greece is more than just the birthplace of democracy. It is the oldest parliamentary democracy in Southeast Europe and the Eastern
Mediterranean. The first Greek constitution was passed in 1822,
one year after the outbreak of the revolution. Greece became a
constitutional monarchy in 1843, many years earlier than other
countries in Europe. The seeds of democracy were planted 25 centuries ago and survived in the Greek people's spirit.
In a region plagued by war, religious extremism, and instability, Greece remains one of the few stable and prosperous
countries. More importantly, the country has been a loyal and
reliable ally of America for decades. For most Greeks, the United
States has been an old friend who support them during difficult
periods of their history. When the civil war started, America
prevented a communist takeover of Greece and saved the birthplace of democracy from tyranny. The two countries have fought
together in all major conflicts, including the two world wars, the
Korean war, and the first Gulf war. Athens also supported the
NATO intervention in Kosovo, the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan,
and the global war on terror.
Both Athens and Washington have supported diplomatically
the internationally-recognized government of the Republic of
Cyprus. They have called for a peaceful resolution of the Cyprus
Problem, but for different reasons. Greece has traditionally
played the role of protector for the island's large Greek population, while the United States has felt obliged as a permanent
member of the UN Security Council to defend international law.
Yet, it is more than clear that Athens and Washington share the
same vision for the Eastern Mediterranean as a region of peace,
prosperity, and stability.
This is a period of geopolitical upheaval. Turkey has entered
a slippery slope where the rule of law is becoming increasingly
problematic and the division of powers seems blurry. Following
the failed coup of 2016, tens of thousands have been imprisoned,
and even more have lost their job in an endless political witch
hunt. Moreover, Turkey is one of the leading jailers of journalists in
the world, second only to China. To make matters worse, Turkey's
growing ties with Russia are neither tactical nor coincidental. The

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Erdogan regime has begun to adopt a Eurasian approach (Ulusalcı
in Turkish) to foreign policy. Pro-Russian advocates of Eurasianism
support anti-Westernism and call for closer relations with Moscow.
At the same time, Ankara supports Hamas and other Islamist
movements that do not recognize the right of Israel to exist.
Fortunately, Greece is there to help the United States. Athens
builds a new geopolitical identity promoting the country as a
bulwark of the West in the Eastern Mediterranean. In this effort,
Athens is not alone. Together with Israel and the Republic of
Cyprus, it forms a community of liberal democracies that share
common interests and values. Due to its location, Greece could
easily deploy military assets for collective security efforts in the
region. It is one of the few NATO countries that spends more
than two percent of its GDP on defense. The Hellenic Army and
Air Force have participated in numerous NATO missions as
far as Afghanistan. The Hellenic Navy has operated in Eastern
Mediterranean, assisting in the evacuation of foreign nationals
from Lebanon (2006) and Libya (2014). Moreover, the country has
military facilities that are vital to U.S. and European security.
Greece has experienced financial problems, but the worst is
over for the economy. The country will move forward in the years
to come. It is becoming again a confident nation of innovative
businessmen, high-caliber scientists, and hard-working professionals. With the help of the United States and other Western
countries, Athens is ready to assume a new role that goes beyond
the passive approach to regional security. Undoubtedly, U.S.
interests will be well served by the emergence of Greece as a
Mediterranean power. If history can teach American policymakers something, it is that Greece is a steadfast and reliable ally in
a complex and unstable region.
*Dr Emmanuel Karagiannis is an Associate Professor at King's
College London's Department of Defense Studies and Chairman of
AHEPA's Geopolitical Advisory Board.

Winter 2020 · THE AHEPAN | 9


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The Ahepan Winter 2020

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