Greece’s foreign policy challenges in 2021 and what the future holds

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias discussed the country’s foreign policy challenges and achievements in 2021 and what the future could look like in a recent op-ed titled “Ready to take on any challenge” in the special edition of the newspaper “Eleftheros Typos tis Kyriakis”.

From major defense purchases and deals with allies such as France and the United States, to shaky relations with neighboring Turkey, Dendias describes both achievements and challenges while sounding optimistic for the new year.

“Ready to take on any challenge”
by Nikos Dendias,
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Greece

Over the past year, important developments have taken place in our foreign policy.

Two extremely important defense cooperation agreements with traditional allies Greece, France and the United States have been concluded.

Contacts with our partners in Europe, as well as in the wider region, in the Western Balkans and in the Middle East, have intensified.

And, of course, new communication channels with countries that play an important role in international affairs have been established.

During 2021, I had frequent contact with the vast majority of the 15 members of the Security Council, including the permanent members: France, the United Kingdom, the United States, China and the Russia.

At the same time, we have strengthened our relations with all of Greece’s neighbours, including Turkey. During these contacts, I recalled the positions of our country, which are based on international law and in particular on the law of the sea.

By 2022, our great expectations and the major challenges that we are called upon to meet are already taking shape.

My expectation, and that of the Mitsotakis government as a whole, is to build on the very close relationships that we have already developed with traditional allies, building on the foundations of recent agreements, as well as the memorandum signed with another very important to our ally, Great Britain.

We must further strengthen the position of strength we have acquired in our wider region, both in the Balkans and in the Middle East. We no longer just watch developments, but we have a role and a say.

We are a key player in shaping our environment and a force to be reckoned with that promotes peace and stability. Greece’s voice is now heard and taken into account by powerful states and international organizations.

But we are not resting on our laurels. We must continue to invest in our diplomatic relations and our alliances in order to maintain our position. And we must also continue our openness to the world and take advantage of the opportunities that arise.

I intend to pursue contacts with sub-Saharan Africa. In the near future, I will visit Nigeria and Angola, two of the largest economies on the African continent. We must also strengthen ties with countries in Asia and Oceania, such as India and Australia, powers that adhere to the same principles as us, such as full respect for the law of the sea.

And of course, we must not forget to mention the Latin American countries with which we have a lot in common.

Unfortunately, we do not operate in a vacuum. Along with the initiatives we undertake, we are called upon to meet challenges, existing and new.

Given the current state of affairs, I am not optimistic about any improvement in Turkey’s attitude towards our country, although I really hope I am wrong. No matter how much Turkey’s foreign policy will be affected by the known problems that have arisen internally, it goes without saying that we must be constantly vigilant, deal vigorously with the ongoing Turkish provocations against Greece and Cyprus. , as well as the instrumentalization of migration and promoting the validity of our positions with our partners and allies.

Unfortunately, nationalism in the Western Balkans continues to rise and now threatens the very existence of states in the region. We should respond to regression and revisionism, offering a realistic European perspective, with the well-known conditionality.

Finally, we will have to manage the changes taking place on the European scene. We want to establish links with the new German government. We had already taken an important step by making contacts while the Greens were still in opposition. But it is a fact that there are no lost conclusions about anything, because now the situation is changing.

At the same time, France, which will hold the EU presidency in the first half of 2022, will organize presidential elections. Whatever the result, the focus will inevitably and primarily be on the inside. All this means that the leading forces in Europe will only find their cruising speed after several months.

If one can make a prediction for next year, it is that unfortunately the pandemic, for at least several months, will affect lives across the world, but there is a reasonably justified hope that there will be more effective ways to deal with it.

In any case, the new year promises to be as intense as last year. However, it is up to us, as far as our country is concerned, to be prepared for all eventualities in 2022, as well as to be ready to face all kinds of challenges.

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