A Decision That Embarrasses Us All

Αssociated Press

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, left, shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping ahead of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China Saturday, May 13, 2017. (Jason Lee/Pool Photo via AP)

During the Greek junta, when the resistance groups tried to secure a conviction from the Human Rights Council against the dictatorship for the evident violation of prisoners' rights, various countries – either on the grounds of their interests, or because they were guilty of similar offenses – would use their vetoes. And so the colonels in Athens were able to celebrate that, first, they treated the detainees extremely well, and second, that the resistance groups were lying.

That is what I was reminded of by the unthinkable news that was pre-released by The Guardian, but which circulated everywhere – the New York Times published an unusually harsh article against the Greek government – that Greece vetoed the European Union’s condemnation of China’s human rights record at the UN Human Rights Council.

Greece was the only one of the 28 European countries to take that position, despite intense pressure from the other Europeans who do not consider such a decision to be self-evident.

I understand why Alexis Tsipras’ “leftist” government made this big mistake. But it does not diminish the shame I feel for this action as a Greek.

China apparently held a knife to their throat. According to the Times, “China has long won diplomatic allies in the world’s poor countries by helping them build expensive roads and ports. Now, it appears to have similarly won over a needy country in Europe.” Greece.

As is well known, China is the major shareholder of the Greek port of Piraeus and due to that, and various promises, it has a significant influence on the government, as has been demonstrated.

Apart from that, it is likely that there are some… geniuses in the Greek government who believe that they can “blackmail” Europe and the United States with micro-alliances with Russian President Vladimir Putin or the Chinese in order to ensure assistance or other political concessions. And perhaps they considered this action, the “accommodation” of China on a crucial decision that determines the nature and culture of countries, to be a similar action.

But it has been proven many times that this reasoning is not effective in practice. The only thing that Greece accomplishes is to be exposed to public opinion, to become isolated from its natural foundation of alliances, and to accelerate its downhill course.

And, nevertheless, few examples to date so bluntly and poignantly reveal the stranglehold of dependence that is on Greece as does its coercion to protect a regime – China – that notoriously violates human rights.

A government must sink extremely low to allow itself to be used for something such as this. It is a disgrace.