Athens, July 13, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency
By Spiros Sideris
On January 27, with the formation of the government of Alexis Tsipras, a minister’s name stood out; the name of Nikos Kotzias. Before the ink had time to dry after signing the Presidential Decree as foreign minister, the stood up to the EU for its decision to take for granted the support of Greece on the extension of sanctions against Russia.
From the very start, Nikos Kotzias showed who he is and the way he will exercise the Greek Foreign Policy. Effusive, sweeping, rationalist and knowledgeable, not only in diplomacy but also in history, philosophy and logic. The logic that was so missing from politics, both Greek and European.
A son of a wealthy family, Nikos Kotzias, is a Professor of “Political Theories of International and European Studies” at the University of Piraeus. He studied economics (BA), Politics and Philosophy (graduate), law, and politics of European Integration (doctorate and post-doc) in Greece and Germany.
He worked as a researcher and taught at the universities of Harvard, Oxford and Marburg. He is currently professor of “Political Theories of International and European Studies” at the University of Piraeus. He was president of the Institute for Strategic and Development Studies (ISTAME). He was a member of the FEG (Research Group for the EU) in Marburg Germany, Senior Associated Member in St. Antony’s College at Oxford University, Senior Fellow at the Weatherhead Centre for International Affairs at Harvard.
By the summer of 2008 he was ambassador-expert at the Foreign Ministry, where he participated and conducted a number of research, planning and design teams. He was a member of the first National Council on Foreign Policy. He participated in the negotiations on the Treaty of Amsterdam, in Agenda 2000, the Greek-Turkish relations, as well as on the European Constitution. He took part in over 200 General Affairs and has participated in several international research groups with global recognition, such as the «International Group of Experts» and «International Specialist Group: Making It Our Own. A Trans-European proposal on amending the Draft Constitutional Treaty for the European Union».
Nikos Kotzias, was a member of the student organization of the Lambrakis youth in 1965, while he was a founding member of KNE (Communist Yoputh of Greece) and member of its Central Council during the junta.
Later he became a member of the CC of KKE (Greek Communist Party), while he was sentenced twice by a military tribunal.
During the junta, Nikos Kotzias was secretary of the federation of student associations in West Germany (West Berlin) and secretary of the Coordination Organ of the anti-dictatorship student organizations.
Nikos Kotzias contributed to the organization and led major strikes like that of Pesine and Larco in 1977. He contributed decisively to the creation of the magazine “Scientific Thought” and “Dialectic”, and participated in the Scientific Committee of many others.
Nikos Kotzias was a founding member of the CPU, the FEG Marbourg and the “Nikos Poulantzas Foundation”. In 1989 he resigned at the same night of the formation of the coalition government of Tzannetakis (Coalition government between right-wing New Democracy and the coalition of the KKE and EAR-Greek Left) from the leading bodies of the left in which he participated. He is the first who denounced it publicly as the start of “dirty 1989”.
He describes himself not as a political but as a “political animal”, according to Aristotle. “I’m not a professional politician nor do I belong to any party. Plato once described the reasons why one should place oneself at the service of the state: Not for ambition nor financial benefits, but only because the State is in need. This was my first sentence in my speech at the ministry on taking up my duties”, he said in an interview.
Nikos Kotzias advocates a multidimensional, proactive and democratic attitude towards foreign policy. He supports the view that even a relatively small country in terms of economic power, can benefit from the changes occurring at global level and increase its capabilities, which will enable it to exercise independent foreign policy in line with national interest. Supporting the view that the world is already moving toward multipolarity, Kotzias considers that States wishing to increase their influence and abilities should seek to create concrete relationships with emerging powers.
The multidimensional extroversion of Greek foreign policy under Nikos Kotzias always in consultation with Alexis Tsipras, as he keeps pointing out, is not only political but also economical. The opening to Russia, Turkey, Israel and the Balkans, redefines the Greek foreign policy. It is no coincidence that in the six months at the Foreign Ministry, he has traveled almost all over the world, opening the door to the Greek government, to exploit in the best possible way the benefits created by Nikos Kotzias’ policy.
The Greek FM has also another advantage. He is familiar with German politics and philosophy, since he studied Politics, Philosophy and Strategy of European Integration at universities in Germany and has incorporated the style, inductive logic and style of the German intellectual. It is up to the Greek prime minister to manage and utilize Nikos Kotzias to the benefit of Greece.
Photo by Spiros Sideris