The hermaphrodite coalition in Greece
CHRISTOS LOUTRADISThe million-dollar question that is confounding Greek and non-Greek political analysts is one and one alone: What is the ideological and political stigma of the Greek government of Alexis Tsipras and Panos Kammenos, leader of the populist right and member of the government?
It is a government that was elected 1.5 months ago with its prime minister, Tsipras, to be the political icon of a Greek society that needed desperate hope and an alternative to the austerity measures of the previous governments, alongside the rock star of the financial world, Finance Minister Gianis Varoufakis, and leading figure of front pages all over the world.
However, Tsipras and Varoufakis are not the only players that will shape the future of the government and the nation. Defense Minister Kammenos and Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias are formulating a unique and strange foreign affairs doctrine that is in total contrast with the leading discourse of the previous governments that was shaping Greece’s foreign policy for decades.
Kammenos, as the defense minister of a government which is ruled by a radical left prime minister, is loyal to his radical conservatism. He intentionally promotes an idea of Greece as a victim of a foreign conspiracy orchestrated by the Germans and other superpowers at the same time that he is focusing on Greek-Turkish relations from a semi-nationalistic perspective. This is the main reason behind his recent tour to the waters bordering Turkey that led to Saturday’s aggressive announcement by the Turkish Foreign Ministry.
Nobody knows how Kammenos and Tsipras can co-exist. If someone takes into account Tsipras’ previous statements, his intention is the continuation of the ongoing Greek-Turkish dialogue on all the important issues. The main question is where the red line for Tsipras and Kammenos is.
But unfortunately or fortunately, they are not alone. Kotzias, a respected professor of international relations and foreign minister, has a solid ideology for Greece’s foreign policy – an ideology that consists of ensuring Greece does not depend on the European Union but pursues a more multi-perspective approach that includes Russia and other superpowers such as China. It is worth noting that Kotzias’ first move as minister was to openly disagree with the European Union’s embargo policy on Russia over Ukraine.
Although Kotzias seems, from a superficial perspective, to be acting with ideological similarity to Kammenos, the reality seems a little bit different. Kotzias will be harsh in his rhetoric but as a professor with deep knowledge of international relations, will not jeopardize Greek-Turkish relations for no reason. This is why, according to many newspapers, Kotzias plans to formulate a Memorandum of Understanding with Turkey pressing to discuss all issues that are said to be of minor importance with Turkish diplomats. According to him, if you agree with Turkey on the small issues, the road to a consensus on the big and important issues is easy.
It is obvious that Tsipras has a herculean endeavor awaiting him. Not only must he attempt to find success in the ongoing negotiations with the European Union, but he has to stick to his pacifist ideology without endangering his hermaphrodite coalition with the populist party of Kammenos.