Last Monday, July 4th, the Deputy President of the Greek Parliament and MP of MeRA25 (greek DiEM25), Sophia Sakorafa, published a statement on social media about her resignation from the Greek Parliamentary Arms Committee, blaming the procedure that is systematically followed and calling on all members of the Committee to take their responsibilities. On this occasion, but also taking into account the developments, as they emerge from the NATO’s international summit in Madrid, we asked her to comment on the current situation.
We had NATO’s International Summit in Madrid these past days. How do you comment on the developments as the Alliance is moving towards the vision of a “Global NATO”?
If we want to be precise, “Global NATO” neither exists nor can exist. After all, the NATO Statute itself, as it exists at least today and unless it is amended, does not allow for this kind of globalization of the organization. At present, NATO is associated with only three of the five Permanent Members of the UN Security Council and a few other states.
What may appear to be a vision, after the resurrection of the “brain dead” NATO, may be a NATO with global action. We are talking about the “vision” of upgrading a mechanism that now wants to acquire a more aggressive expansionist orientation. In fact, in order to maintain the NATO mechanism, it is doomed to constantly invent and reinvent enemies.
The first phase of the resurgence is characterized by the revival of the old opposition, with the classic enemy, Russia. The conditions for the transition from bipolarity to the present multipolar world had to mature, of course. For their own purposes, the NATO methodologies did not hesitate to sacrifice a country, Ukraine, and to provoke a war in the heart of Europe in 2022, a war of unknown duration. For the moment, the only tangible result of this war is the radical reordering of the world energy market in favour of the USA.
However, it is worth assessing the current feeling: the world is feeling less and less secure, despite the enlargement of NATO (Sweden, Finland). And things in it will not change even with further enlargement (e.g. Georgia, Moldova).
Anyway, until we reached the current phase, in the past years, after the collapse of the so-called actually existing socialism, NATO had to be maintained by harassing various countries and peoples, especially in the Middle East and North Africa. There it put forward the fight against terrorism as its objective, but insisted on strengthening it in other pockets of unrest. So what did NATO leave behind in Libya, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and wherever else it took action? Only devastated countries and peoples in unimaginable dystopia, doomed to be unable to recover for decades. The only target is the elimination of any potential threat to American interests, even if it existed only at the level of faint suspicion. But, also, the other main purpose was fulfilled: the significant and long-standing increase in the turnover of some war industries, which brought a corresponding high rocketing in their profitability. This could not have happened any other way!
Let us not forget, however, that this ‘break’ in NATO’s reorientation began with its terrible, unprovoked and disastrous attack on Yugoslavia. So we are talking about decades spent attacking countries that have never threatened any NATO member country. This in itself shows the extent of the hypocrisy in giving the title “defensive” to the NATO organisation. It is a term that is not merely iconic but something more: it means the exact opposite of the essence of what it is supposed to define.
In Yugoslavia, NATO in fact violated its statute and, in this sense, the defiantly titled ‘humanitarian intervention’ was an operation that was completely illegal. But it also marked a major reversal in NATO’s strategic planning: it was a clear declaration that its action was not limited by either the UN Security Council or the OSCE. Their mandate may be desirable but it is not mandatory for NATO’s military engagement. This was very characteristically captured in (then) Chancellor Schröder’s Doctrine: “With the UN if possible, and without the UN if necessary”. The question remains unanswered, for the peoples, for the world community and for the international balance: Who – and by what criteria – what is “necessary” can be judged?
NATO’s practice to date has, in most cases, taken for granted. From Bosnia to Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq, the pattern of Western policy choice has always been the same. After the success of the military operation, the “conquered” territories are turned into protectorates. If the intervention is not an absolute success, we are left with a state of disintegration, political, social, and economic disintegration, a situation that will take many, many years to restore. In specific cases, such as Libya, for example, things show that this was the sole purpose of the intervention.
In any case, it is a fact that the NATO treaty defines specific geographical limitations, in the area of Europe, North America and north of the Tropic of Cancer. Those who speak of a global NATO obviously mean a future or even imminent upgrade of its action, for which it may be necessary to go beyond these limits.
In fact, the real debate here is clearly about something else. It is about developing activity to protect US interests vis-à-vis China. Only this can be the next essential step in the direction of a global NATO. And that is probably what they want to prepare for.
But there, things are not so easy and do not allow for frivolous approaches.
It is said that the Russian intervention in Ukraine “reset” NATO, how do you comment on this?
I really think this is a very superficial reading of things. The Russian invasion of Ukraine was not a sudden development; it was not out of the blue. Anyone who was following developments closely knew that the military conflict was predestined many months ago, and with little chance of avoiding it. All that remained as a question was the exact time and the exact manner in which the war would begin. Let us not forget that we previously had what appears to have been a catalytic change in one of the key players in the world games, the United States. The change of leadership in Washington was of great importance for both American domestic and foreign policy. The end of Trump also marked the end of our policy of limited US international interventionism compared to other eras. There was also the Trump administration’s stated policy of withdrawing from activities in countries that did not meet the desired level of 2% of GDP in armaments. But the page has been turned. Democrat Mr. Biden’s US was substantially involved in setting the stage for the conflict.
Let’s also not forget that the US is the big funder of NATO operations and what happened when the US pulled out of Afghanistan. Despite the fact that this operation was implemented within the framework of the UN and the latter’s mandate was renewed every 6 months, with the US withdrawal the whole operation collapsed, and all the other participating states withdrew from it.
What is perhaps important to note are some side features of the developments. The withdrawal of the US also brought the announcement of a major armament program by Germany. This decision suspended the nascent plans to activate a European Defense Policy, essentially of French inspiration. Germany’s announcement of an arms build-up, with an investment of around 100 billion, is obviously changing the intra-European balance. After all, this also means an intensive upgrading of production and the profitability of the German arms industries. However, we cannot fail to point out that with the war in Ukraine we also have the silence of France, a nuclear power that is also a member of the Security Council, which seems to be following, simply, with a gasp, behind the USA and Germany.
Will Greece participate in the rapid reaction force of 300,000 troops announced by NATO?
First, I personally hope not. Greece is a country that lives under the constant threat of war and needs constant defense vigilance. It cannot afford to participate in missions, at least to the extent that they may affect its defense capability. On the other hand, of course, membership in an organization means an obligation to implement its decisions. Provided, of course, that the principle of legality is respected.
The current Greek Government is following a personal doctrine of the Prime Minister in foreign policy, which, however, also expresses the traditional perception of a part of the Greek conservative party. It is the doctrine of ostentatious ‘alliance’, the doctrine of the given, predictable and always willing ally. In other words, one could define it as the ‘doctrine of ostentatious subservience’. It is obviously based on an expectation that by this practice he is entitled to expect some benefit, at some point. The lessons of Greek history do not at all support this view, but that is another matter.
Today, therefore, Greece operates in its relations with NATO and the EU as an ever-willing volunteer or obedient accomplice, and with excessive zeal. A typical example is the Greek arms shipment to Ukraine. It is characteristic that, without any decision by a national or international body, the Greek Prime Minister rushed to send arms to one of the warring countries that was attacked. In fact, our country has sent Ukraine more than twice as many weapons as Italy and two-thirds more than France, which is a nuclear power and a permanent member of the Security Council.
If Greece wanted to, could it react to the decisions of the NATO Summit? Would it find the necessary alliances to do so?
When you are a member of an international organization, you operate under its constitution. NATO’s statute, with its rule of unanimous decision-making, offers, in theory, serious possibilities. In any case, the reality is that Greece had a completely silent presence at the Madrid Summit. This signaled Greek acquiescence to the demands made by Turkey to consent to the accession of Sweden and Finland. Turkey also achieved the lifting of the arms embargo and an end to the traditional Scandinavian protection of human rights for persecuted opposition Turks and the Kurds, who were preempted by the Erdogan regime.
Greece has an obligation to express an opinion, based on the concept of defending international law, because it also supports the defense of its sovereign rights in the face of Turkey’s provocative challenges, and indeed ever-escalating demands.
As for your question as to whether it could find the necessary alliances, I too will answer with a rhetorical question, a question that does not require an immediate answer: Can one find allies in international institutions by defending international law?
In any case, if finding and securing allies is an end in itself, regardless of the practicalities beyond that, the surest way to achieve it is silence, obedience and inaction. But this cannot be a responsible attitude.
Earlier this week you announced your resignation from the Greek Parliamentary Arms Committee. Do you want to tell us what’s going on?
What is happening is the systematic application of abusive procedures by recent governments. And it’s what happens with most issues in political practice. In principle, a normal procedure is envisaged, with whatever imperfections may emerge in the course of its implementation, which normally requires long-term planning and consistent application. This has never been followed to the full extent required by the relevant framework. On the contrary, moreover, it has been circumvented in numerous cases, with repeated invocation of exceptional circumstances, the urgency to meet specific needs, or even ‘crisis’. In this way, certain programs are selected based on essentially opaque criteria, to the detriment of others. And these are usually linked to specific interests of US suppliers. In this way, arms expenditure ends up being much higher, since the terms and conditions of the regular procedures are not followed and, as a rule, partial procurements are carried out, at multiple costs. I think that the basic responsibility of all of us does not allow this methodology to continue and I expect the necessary response from all the other members: both the Government and the other parties.
Given the persecution of dissidents of Erdogan’s policies and the anti-war movement in Turkey, the open issues in the Aegean and Cyprus, what in your opinion would be the most appropriate approach to Greece’s foreign policy issues?
The parameters of Greek foreign policy are not characterized by any volatile or contextual framework. Greece is mainly facing a specific problem of a permanent nature. And that is the long-standing behavior of the Turkish state. Turkey’s constant, repeated but also escalating challenges and demands, even for sovereignty and sovereignty rights, have one basic answer: respect for international law. This is where Greece’s self-evident national stance stems from, which is to defend international law uncompromisingly in all matters, in every problem that arises in the global reality. Dialogue with every neighboring country is always necessary since it leads to the upgrading and improvement of relations between states and peoples. But dialogue can be about any kind of inter-state cooperation, it cannot be about sovereignty issues. The Greek people, regardless of other individual political or ideological differences, are united in their determination to tackle such problems. It is therefore up to the Greek government to implement the necessary policies to defend and promote national rights and interests.