American Hellenic Institute


Facebook Image
Wilson Center’s Southeast Europe Project Hosts Presentation on Greece’s New Foreign Policy
November 30, 2009—No. 82
(202) 785-8430


Executive Director’s Note:  The American Hellenic Institute presents AHI’s Capital Report which is a timely synopsis of recent policy discussions in Washington to help keep you abreast of the latest developments. As a service to our membership and constituency, and to gain an understanding of the position of other entities on our issues, the American Hellenic Institute attends and participates at policy forums or roundtable discussions to ensure the policy positions of the Greek-American community are represented.

The content provided in AHI’s Capital Report is for informational purposes only, and does not necessarily reflect the position or opinion of AHI.

Wilson Center’s Southeast Europe Project Hosts Presentation on Greece’s New Foreign Policy

A forecast of Greece’s foreign policy under new Prime Minister George Papandreou, who is also at the helm of the foreign ministry, was discussed by Dr. Aristotle Tziampiris, assistant professor, department of International and European Studies, University of Piraeus (Greece), at the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Southeast Europe Project on Oct. 29, 2009.

Dr. Tziampiris, who presented views that were his own and not that of any Greek political party, touched on a plethora of Greece’s foreign policy issues including FYROM name recognition, Cyprus, relations with Turkey, and pipeline politics.

FYROM Name Issue Can Destabilize that Country

Dr. Tziampiris cautioned that the FYROM name recognition issue has the potential to destabilize FYROM.  “Albanians are becoming restless in FYROM,” he stated.  Dr. Tziampiris cited that in August 2009 an Albanian political party warned the government about not solving the name issue.  Moreover, he said the compound name proposal with a geographical qualifier is not supported in FYROM. Furthermore, FYROM’s provocations such as renaming airports or building Alexander the Great statues do not make sense, he added.

Dr. Tziampiris offered that “There is a window to solve this issue by December” but he predicted it will be less likely to occur.  A majority of Greek people oppose the compound name, he added.

Policy Toward Turkey’s EU Accession, Cyprus

December will also be a key month for Turkey’s EU prospects, according to Dr. Tziampiris.  He pointed to a looming showdown over the inability for Cypriots vessels to dock in Turkish ports as one of many criteria that will be reviewed by an EU progress report on Turkey to be conducted in December.  Dr. Tziampiris stated that Prime Minister Papandreou supports Turkish accession to the EU provided the country meets all of the necessary criteria.  The professor noted Papandreou’s and Droutsas’ support of the failed 2004 Annan Plan, but asserted that Papandreou will stand with Cypriot President Demetris Christofias’ position on any proposed solution.

Looking Ahead: Activity in Balkans, Close Ties with U.S. Forecasted

Dr. Tziampiris envisioned foreign policy being at the forefront of Prime Minster Papandreou’s agenda.  Some of his thoughts on what lies ahead for Greece’s foreign policy includes:

  1. Greece will be active in the western Balkans.
  2. There will be a new FYROM name proposal with a geographical qualifier.
  3. Athens will remain close with the U.S.
  4. Relations with Russia will be good, but not excellent.
  5. Athens will support Nicosia on any future solution.
  6. A new initiative will be taken that links Turkey with Greece and Cyprus.

Q&A: Cypriot Mistrust of Papandreou?

John Sitilides, chairman, Board of Advisors of the Southeast Europe Project and moderator, commenced the Q&A session.  He inquired if Prime Minister Papandreou’s previous position on the Annan Plan would lead to mistrust among the Cypriots.  Dr. Tziampiris said the Annan Plan is history and the future is the opportunity.

Questioning from AHI brought to light the strained relations between FYROM and Bulgaria due to the arrest of a Bulgarian citizen in FYROM.  The professor affirmed that relations between Bulgaria and FYROM have become strained, citing this recent case and diplomatic damage between the two nations.

Dr. Tziampiris dismissed a notion offered by a FYROM-backed lobbyist that Greece was pursuing a 19th century style of nationalism with regard to Greece’s policy toward FYROM.  He replied that Article 14 of the Interim Accord prohibits the use of symbols to provoke. “You have a name linked to symbols, culture, and language, etc. No one will monopolize the name issue.” The professor also mentioned how Grueski is building Alexander the Great statues, and renaming airports provoking Greece.

In addition, Dr. Tziampiris reiterated Greece’s desire for Turkey to become Europeanized.  A European orientation will help keep ties with Turkey closer as opposed a non-European direction.

Before closing, Dr. Tziampiris mentioned, “Foreign policy is not what is right, but what is feasible.”


For additional information, please contact C. Franciscos Economides at (202) 785-8430 or at For general information about the activities of AHI, please see our Web site at