Vice President Mike Pence’s invitation to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to visit the White House “in the near future,” although good news on the one hand, raises some fundamental questions, which we are obligated to bring to your attention.
Regardless of whether or not one supports Tsipras, this issue, the visit of a Greek Prime Minister to the White House, can only be seen from a purely national aspect.
First of all, let us recall a few things we must keep in mind: through this newspaper, I have often criticized the fact that although the new administration is in quite close contact with the Turkish government, it requires numerous requests from Greece to schedule a telephone appointment between the president and the prime minister, as well as for a very brief meeting at NATO.
Contrarily, the president has already invited the Turkish president to the White House and recently met with him at the G20 summit, while the secretary of state has visited Turkey twice, but did not consider it useful to stop over in Athens, even for just a few hours, in the interests of balance between the two countries.
Meanwhile, the Cypriot president visiting the White House (June 6) before the Greek prime minister (not as yet) in a new administration is unprecedented.
Second, the takeaway from the conversation between Pence and Tsipras reveals that the Greek prime minister has only been invited to meet with the vice president, not with President Trump. In other words, the same that happened with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades.
But if that happens, it would be an unacceptable, offensive degradation of Greece and the Greek prime minister, and should not be tolerated.
So, should the prime minister perhaps accept Pence’s invitation only after ensuring a meeting with the president?
Third, invitations to the White House, the most supreme of all invitations, are extended to heads of state and government for two main reasons: as a reward for the work carried out by a head of government on issues of foreign policy, or because the U.S. authorities believe that an invitation to the White House, in the overall atmosphere that is created, may likely secure an agreement on something which is in America’s interest.
In this case, the first reason probably does not apply. Tsipras has not shown any success in matters of foreign policy.
Thus, the second reason applies. But what is the national issue for which Tsipras need a little push in order to agree? Perhaps the agreement on the Souda base, on Cyprus, on the petroleum, or the FYROM name dispute?
Lastly, I characterized Tsipras’ invitation to the White House as “good news” on the one hand for the following reason: because if it happens, it would constitute a public, evident “reconciliation” of the so-called Left with America, which will help to further separate Greek foreign policy from domestic politics, to Greece’s benefit.