By Christos T. Panagopoulos
With the NATO forces awaiting U.S. President Barack Obama’s “green light” to begin joint military operations in Syria’s territory, the Greek government seems as if walking on a stretched rope, with the Maximos Mansion expressing its deep concern about the situation in the Middle East.
Despite the fact that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied information which leaked via the Internet, that Washington demanded the airbases at Suda Bay and Kalamata, as well as the usage of the Greek FIR, government officials are troubled by the consequences such a decision would have for the country’s heavily-burdened economy.
According to accurate information, Prime Minister, Antonis Samaras, is already discussing with his advisors about Greece’s involvement in the joint military operations, which sooner or later will begin in Syria. But opinions seem to differ; several members of the government do not want even the smallest or indirect participation in this imminent invasion, especially at this current period, when an attempt to attract foreign investments is already under way. An open war front is something that would worsen the governmental plans for development and Premier Samaras has already stressed that “development must proceed uninterrupted”.
Of course, there is also the opposite opinion, which counsels Samaras to fully comply with Washington’s demands, as such a perspective would help Greece to enhance its negotiating tactics towards its foreign allies.
However, this comes in contradiction with the fact that the country has been considered for many years as a pole of stability in the Northeastern Mediterranean, especially at this time, while Egypt is on the verge of a civil war, Turkey having already been tested by the recent riots at Gezi Park and other major cities and Syria crossing the “red line”, after allegations about the usage of chemical weapons against civilians near Damascus a few days ago.
SYRIZA says no about usage of Souda Bay
Consequently, this perspective of Greece participating in a full escalating war against Syria is already seen with great concern. Main opposition leader of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), Alexis Tsipras, called upon the government “to reassure the Greek citizens that not only will deny the usage of the airbase at Suda Bay in Crete, but will also oppose to every plan for military invasion in Syria”.
Tsipras’s statement came a few days after Deputy Prime Minister, Evangelos Venizelos, confirmed that six days after the massacre with the usage of chemical weapons in the Syrian town of Guta, he had communicated with the EU head of the CFSP, Catherine Ashton, as well with his French counterpart and agreed with them that “there must be a clear and absolute reaction”.