A New National Security Doctrine for Greece?

AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris

By Ambassador (ret.) Alexandros P. Mallias

The tragedy of the “refugee game” in the Aegean Archipelago and the repeated daily Turkish provocations compel Greece to complete and integrate its National Security Doctrine, so far revolving around three axes:

A. It is defensive: it is characterized by the will and the ability to defend the national territory and sovereignty.

It evolves on two levels—a political-diplomatic level, and a military-operational level. The political and diplomatic factor shapes and promotes the positions that are imposed by Greece’s interests. It is also related to the social and political cohesion. This is crucial for Greece, as it undergoes a social and political crisis with no way out of the bankruptcy spectrum in sight. In fact, one tends to wander whether today’s Greece makes a “coherent whole”.

A country’s persuasion and the evaluation of its might are not exhausted in the decisions that the country makes during a crisis that is escalating or is at its peak, where the last and inevitable resort is military engagement.

The threefold of our defense policy towards Turkey should be “deterrence”, “containment” and “interception”. The first two had shaped the US doctrine against the Soviet Union during the Cold War. They constituted the framework of coexistence for these nuclear super powers who were forced to move somewhere between the “carrot and stick” space. Interception mostly refers to the military naval and air engagement activity in the Aegean Sea;but shouldn’t be exclusively confined to it.

B. It is diplomatic. Deterrence and interception—in the wider sense—are inevitable and necessary principles that complement the efforts of understanding, cooperation and dialogue on the basis of the International Law with Turkey.They are based on the principle of the peaceful settlement of disputes.

The policy of “patience and perseverance” was found to be the best possible choice. It was devised by a former Minister of Foreign Affairs, one of the few “wise men” that Greece has at present. At the other end, are all those who believe that they can “shake things up” solely with their personal politics and charm.

C. It is European. The radical review of Greece’s national policy towards Turkey coincides with the decision—imposed by the then prevailing circumstances—to “ Europeanize ” the Greek-Turkish issues. It was launched in the E.U. Summit Council ,in Helsinki, in December of 1999. The Republic of Cyprus joined the European Union, which was per se a historic achievement.

Then, in October of 2005 there was the most comprehensive recording of Turkey’s commitments towards Greece and Cyprus in order to open the EU accession talks for Turkey.
For two consecutive decades, the European framework was the base of our policy towards Ankara. Today, this European dimension is decreasing and subsiding due to the developments in the EU and in Turkey, as well.

Strategy and decision—concepts engulfing a special meaning—are based on the knowledge, the timing and the correct assessment of capabilities. Moreover, they require a long-term provision of the civil and military capabilities and power balances. The analysis of data, armaments included, shows a possible shifting of balance to the detriment of Greece.

The unfolding of the Trump doctrine—because that is what we are dealing with—is not as new as it seems. It underscores the might and the force to impose the US positions and to promote the US interests. The classic “Melian Dialogue” is obviously an effective doctrine of the international relations, where the strong impose their views from their position of superiority , and the weak resist as much as their weakness allows.

Furthermore, Vladimir Putin’s Russia is already applying this policy in Europe (Georgia, Ukraine, and Crimea). Besides, Turkey’s policy has been often characterized by threats, and by the use and display of military force.

This reality, in conjunction with our neighbor’s volatile and unpredictable character, should make us seriously consider integrating our deterrence force.

Recent revelations confirm that in the past Turkey has been preparing methodically. We learned to live—sometimes reaching the brink of an armed conflict—with another Turkey. Now our neighbor is different. We don’t know them. We try to understand them. The new Turkey has an advantage, because they know us.

I therefore wonder whether at this point the deterrence power strategy of a “powerful retaliatory strike” is absent as an integral part of our defense planning. The bigger the “retaliating deterrence”, the stronger the reliability of the defense planning.

A prerequisite is that it must much the effectual operational capabilities.However, its foundation cannot just rely upon the military . It is mostly the national political consensus , knowledge and continuity.

Greece must become once again a “coherent whole”. This is the condition sine qua non.

*Author of the book” “Visions and Chimera— a diplomat’s journey” (Ed. I.SIDERIS, in Greek, November 2016).