Posted by NIKOS on June 26, 2001 at 08:54:21:
In Reply to: Re: misohellenists posted by Mike A. on June 26, 2001 at 05:27:30:
I enjoyed reading both articles on Nikos Dimou's website. He pinpoints some key problems in Greek society regarding our inclination to cover up our past mistakes. But I find him to be to harsh on a very ethnically homogenous society (which scholars point out is rare for the Balkans and Europe as a whole) which is still trying to form its modern identity and attempting to take its place among "western nations". I also don't think he is crediting the achievements Greece has been making to foster healthier relationships with its neighbors, to become a more legitimate and responsible player in the eyes of the international community, and to strenghen and fufill the potential of Greek society. Two things that jumped out at me were: 1) that the problems of Greek society do not exist in the west.
2) The truth regarding our national issues.
I agree with Dimou that Greek newspapers talk of the good and bad guys. But all news agencies, even in the west do this. Take for example China/US tension over the US plane. Or the new missle defense system, and how its importance is being transmitted to the American public by arguing it is to deter threats from rogue states. All countries because of real or perceived security concerns must create this good/bad atmosphere to inform and gain support from the general public, and more generally because a challenge to the established norms will almost always cause defensive rethoric first before revaluation and change takes place. Whether this is correct or not is not my point, but what is important is that it does exist in the west. The west also includes Israel, and it is not to sympathetic to its neighbors. Even in western europe Northern Ireland and Ireland. Within western countries Basques in spain, coriscans in France, algerians in France, the perception of muslims in any country. Threats (I mean serious threats not just conflicting ideologies) from outside and within the state are BAD, they cannot be taken with a grain of salt. For example when FYROM declared independence this only added to Greek security concerns in the Post-Cold War environment. Not because of the name or the flag, but because its constitution outlined the future unification of all macedonian lands. How is the Greek public suppose to react to this? The occupation of macedonia by Bulgaria, the civil war, the use of Macedonia as the region for the prosfiges from Asia minor, all of this is recent, and is part of the construction of our modern Greek identity. How is the Greek government suppose to react to statements from a newly established state, which it has no previous diplomatic or bilateral relations with, claiming this in its constitution? How can Greece react when it already was dealing with the possible breakup of NATO (guaranteed US presence in the area)? Lastly on this subject, I find the Western journalists are always commenting on that old Christian and Muslim feud. That old cliche. Greece has good relations with many muslim countries, but western journalists breaks it into this dichotomy because it is easier than targeting the root issues, and in turn this leads to good and bad groupings.
As for the truth about Greek national issues what truth are we talking about. It is true that the Greek national airspace has been in effect since 1931, and which until 1974 Turkish military aircraft honored this international agreement by submitting flight plans when entering the Athens FIR up until that time. It is also true that the internationally sponsered Law of the Sea Convention outlined the territorial sea boundaries. Unfortunately, Greece cannot extend her boundries because of a voiced threat by Turkish officials that this would constitue a causus belli. If Greece is to live up to these western expectations that Dimou describes then it should continue to work with the international community and follow internationally recognized treaties which it has been doing. These threats to Greek national security are real. They are not only threats to Greece but to the stability of the international system, of which the west is part of. The west is very aware that these threats are real, an example being the attatchment to Greece's WEU application, outlining that Greece could only become a member if an article 5 obligation (an attack on one member state is considered an attack on all member states, as in NATO) by WEU members, if Turkey were to attack Greece. The key here is that an attack by Turkey against Greece was the understanding not the other way around. I will be the first to tell you that I think Greece is to blame for Cyprus, because its attempts to overthrow Makarios gave Turkey the green light to use its internationally given right to enter Cyprus to protect the turkish minority as outlined in the treaty of guarantee. I also think that using Alexander the Great when presenting our opposition to the use of the name Macedonia was a poor strategy to pursure when trying to gather support from the non-Greek international community. But at the same time I think Dimou does not place enough importance on Greece being a nation which is trying to survive as all nations are in the international system. I think if Dimou studied recent Greek foreign policy on a wide range of issues he would see that Greece is not as hopeless as he imagines. This is also slowly becoming the understanding in recent scholarly literature on Modern Greece. As Dimou tells us that we should disconnect from the notion that we are the pure descendents of the Ancient Greeks, he should equally realize then that no nation should be expected to do a complete turn around overnight. The Western nations made many mistakes while they were becoming industrialized states, and are continuing to do so. And as for moving from a Balkan mindset to one of western orientation, I think its better if Greece looked beyond these regional classifications and adopted an international personality. Which it is doing!
: Concerning the topic "misohellenists", I suggest to read also the text "The Apology of an Anti-Hellene" written by Nikos Dimou. You can find it on his homepage at the follwing URL.
: Mike A.
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