Relations between Greece and the United States are strained. From the anti-American rhetoric of Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou and his Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), and after a series of irritating incidents, tensions have developed that pose troublesome questions about the course of Greek policy and Greek relations with the West.

Last May, addressing his PASOK Party Congress, Papandreou launched a blistering attack on the United States, charging it with a strategy of "expansionism and domination." In July, his government decided to free a Jordanian terrorist despite U.S. intelligence reports that the prisoner had arranged for a bomb to be planted on an Athens-Tel Aviv passenger flight. A month later, the Greek government was unwilling to prevent striking workers from blocking the entrances to U.S. military bases. The United States retaliated by hinting that it would prevent the transfer of older F-5 jets from Norway to Greece and would instead divert them to Turkey. A Greek government spokesman responded angrily that Greece was "not a U.S. colony." In October, Papandreou lashed out at the United States again: he claimed that "the Korean 007 airliner was in fact performing a CIA spy mission," and boasted that "we were the only ones who did not become hysterical over the issue."

The prime minister underlines his anti-American declarations with frequent pro-Soviet statements. He has gone on record as saying that since the U.S.S.R. is not a capitalist country "one cannot label it an imperialist power." According to Papandreou, "the U.S.S.R. represents a factor that restricts the expansion of capitalism and its imperialistic aims." Papandreou is the first Western prime minister to visit General Wojciech Jaruzelski in Poland, and while in Warsaw last October he praised the military dictatorship and attacked the Solidarity labor movement.

On the essentials of foreign policy, Papandreou and his party have maintained their links to the West. The strategic value of Greece remains undiminished. The U.S. bases in Greece hold considerable importance for the Western Alliance. A "neutralist" Greece would lead to the isolation of Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean, making it far more vulnerable to Soviet pressures. Yet one is entitled to ask of Greece's governing party, what are its true aims? What basic factors shape Papandreou's foreign policy and what is their relative importance? What course is Papandreou likely to take and what should be the response of the West, particularly the United States?

Any effort to understand the foreign policy of the current Greek Socialist government must begin by tracing the rise of anti-Western and anti-American feelings in Greece following the collapse of the military junta in 1974. Then the ideological evolution of PASOK since it came to power can be analyzed, in light of the continuing constraints of Greek public opinion and the international realities confronting Greece.


After the defeat of communist insurgencies in 1944 and in 1946-49, the consensus was widespread among Greeks that their security lay within the Western Alliance. All major Greek political parties, with the exception of the extreme left, strongly backed the decision to join NATO. The leader of the Liberal Party stated in 1951: "Our experience has demonstrated that neutrality is neither possible nor acceptable. . . . Within the Alliance Greece is not isolated, but more secure."1 Given Greece's long border with communist neighbors and the threat it has faced from the north, as well as its geographical isolation from Western Europe, it is hardly surprising that such sentiments were widely accepted within the country.

However, with the outbreak of the Cyprus crisis in the 1960s, anti-Western and anti-Turkish feelings mounted, and this consensus gradually evaporated. Public sentiment was irritated by particularly heavy-handed U.S. intervention in Greece's internal affairs. Many came to the conclusion that the country was most threatened not by Greece's northern communist neighbors but by Turkey, its NATO ally to the east. Greeks came to feel that the Western allies were insensitive to Greece's national aspirations.

Such attitudes were strengthened in July 1974, after the coup in Nicosia inspired by the Colonels' regime in Athens, and the subsequent Turkish invasion of Cyprus. The further Turkish army advance of mid-August, which became known as the "second invasion," proved beyond any doubt that Ankara had little interest in reestablishing the status quo ante in Cyprus; rather, Turkey seemed intent on extending its influence on the island by sheer force. Following this second invasion, the center-right Prime Minister Constantine Karamanlis withdrew in protest from NATO's military organization.

But anti-Western-and particularly anti-American-feelings should not be attributed solely to the Cyprus crisis of 1974. Well before, there was a widespread impression that the United States in particular, and NATO more generally, had tolerated, supported, and perhaps even conspired to bring to power the unpopular regime of the Greek Colonels. America's Realpolitik of the time was undoubtedly shortsighted, laying the groundwork for anti-American feelings. The collapse of the Colonels' regime in 1974 produced the conditions for a radical ideological shift in Greek society. As a perceptive Greek Marxist has noted:

The lid was blown off the gas-tank with the fall of the dictatorship, and the radicalization showed its face in public. . . . There emerged a vague representation of society, a simplistic notion of history, a bipolar view of social conflict, an adulation of the achievements of the popular culture of the past, a romantic quest for the national roots, an equally utopian expectation of radical change, and a general messianic feeling. . . .2

Whether this emerging ideology was socialist, populist, or a combination of both is not critical. More important is that there was a growing reaction against what the Colonels had seemed to represent-the United States and NATO. The reaction was thus anti-Western, ultra-nationalist, isolationist and xenophobic. And these themes came to be represented, exploited and strengthened by Andreas Papandreou and his Panhellenic Socialist Movement.


For much of his life, Andreas Papandreou was an American citizen. He served in the U.S. military during World War II, and later taught economics at the University of California, Berkeley. He returned to Greece in the 1960s. Initially active in the Center Union Party headed by his father, Papandreou was arrested during the reign of the Colonels, and subsequently freed upon the intervention of President Lyndon Johnson. He then formed the Panhellenic Liberation Movement, a radical leftist organization which in 1974 gave way to PASOK.

The years 1974-1976 marked PASOK's "ultra-radical" period. In its September 1974 founding charter, the movement called for the "socialization" of wide areas of the economy, as well as of education and health. Defining PASOK's foreign policy, Papandreou declared that Greece should "disengage itself from military, political and economic organizations which undermine our national independence," thus expressing his disapproval of NATO membership and of Greece's intention to join the European Community. He added that Greece should "refuse to recognize military agreements particularly with American imperialism," implying that he favored closing the U.S. military bases in Greece. The further implication was that this action should be taken immediately. He said:

It has become clear to the Greek people that popular sovereignty cannot be conceived outside the realm of national independence. This is why Greece's disengagement from NATO and the U.S. . . . constitutes the first and immediate aim of our movement. Our national independence is the precondition for popular sovereignty. . . .3

During this period Papandreou was quite clear about his party's radical ideology. Social democracy was dismissed as "capitalism with a polite face" and accused of aiming "to preserve the system in order to establish monopolistic and imperialistic capitalism." He attacked Eurocommunism as a form of social democracy. "When we talk about the Communist Party of Italy," he said, "we really mean the social-democratic party of Italy." As for his own model for socialism, Papandreou dismissed Soviet-style "state socialism," but did not hide his admiration for "the genuine anti-imperialist" forces of the Arab world. "In North Africa and the Middle East," he said, "Algeria, Libya, Iraq, and, of course, the Palestinian Movement make up the progressive anti-imperialist front. . . . These countries are in the forefront of a struggle against monopolies and imperialism." After a trip to Libya, Papandreou described the Qaddafi regime as a "direct democracy" pursuing the "most revolutionary course of our time."

As it turned out, this brand of radical socialism held little appeal for the Greek electorate. In the 1974 elections Papandreou's party polled only 13.6 percent of the vote, the moderate Center Union-in spite of its unappealing leader, George Mavros-gaining 20.5 percent while the center-right New Democracy party won a landslide victory (54.4 percent). This severe and unexpected setback came as a shock to Papandreou and convinced him that if he were ever to gain power he would have to shed his own extremist image and moderate his party's positions.

Accordingly, by the 1977 electoral campaign, PASOK had smoothed over most of its radicalism. Marxism had disappeared from its vocabulary, and even the term "socialism" was used only sparingly. PASOK's foreign policy also became much more cautious. By 1977 Papandreou had endorsed a gradual process for the removal of U.S. bases.

Systematic projection of a new moderate image paid off handsomely. PASOK doubled its vote in the 1977 elections, gaining 25.3 percent and emerging as Greece's second largest party after New Democracy, which dropped to 41.8 percent. Following this line and with an eye to the 1981 elections, Papandreou attempted to reinforce the notion that PASOK was only a moderate party of the left, stressing its European dimension and shedding some of its Third World orientations. He gradually strengthened-at least ostensibly-PASOK's ties with all Western socialist parties (though never becoming a member of the Socialist International) and went as far as implying that the West German Social Democratic Party (previously branded an instrument of "American imperialism") was after all a "progressive party."

As the 1981 elections approached, Papandreou indicated that he did not intend to remove Greece from the European Community, and argued that, while PASOK's long-term aims included the removal of the U.S. bases and withdrawal from NATO, "tactical" short-term considerations called for a more cautious approach. He pledged that in all decisions affecting national defense he would consult the military leaders-and they were known to favor NATO membership and maintenance of the U.S. bases.

Papandreou's gradual shift to moderation came in clear response to Greek public opinion. A poll taken shortly before the 1981 elections showed that 28.2 percent of the voters characterized themselves as liberals, 15.3 percent as conservatives, 14.6 percent as socialist non-Marxists, 14.2 percent as socialist Marxists and 4.1 percent as Marxist-Leninists.4 During the campaign Papandreou downplayed PASOK's long-term strategic aims-in both domestic and foreign affairs-and emphasized the short-term tactical options which provided his party with the moderate image it needed in order to take office. PASOK's vote rose to 48 percent while New Democracy dropped to 35.8 percent, a landslide victory achieved by a shift from the ND to PASOK among "liberal" voters.

The 1981 elections-as most elections-were won on domestic issues, primarily on the issue of inflation: 53.4 percent of the electorate mentioned inflation as "the most important problem" whereas only 6.3 percent mentioned "national security" foreign policy issues. Papandreou capitalized on the public's discontent with the performance of the economy, deemphasized foreign policy questions, and also succeeded in convincing the public that it had nothing to fear from PASOK's accession to power.


Papandreou's foreign policy is above all a function of Greek domestic politics. In particular, three domestic factors dominate his government's foreign outlook-the influence of PASOK Party activists; the role and influence of the Greek Communist Party (KKE); and the politics of populism. These factors pull Papandreou in different directions, provoking inconsistent and perplexing shifts. All are moderated or counterbalanced to a significant degree by the realities of Greece's international position.

The three domestic factors sustain Papandreou's radical anti-Westernism in both style and content. International realities, however, make it necessary for PASOK to rely on "tactical" accommodations in the major foreign policy options and postpone the realization of its longer-term "strategic goals" of breaking with NATO and expelling the United States.

The PASOK activists are mainly those who joined the party during 1974-1977, subjected to a heavy dose of Marxist and Third World slogans. They are the watchdogs of "orthodoxy," and constitute the backbone of an impressive and effective party organization. The role of the activists in Papandreou's victory in 1981 was surely decisive.

Although since 1975 Papandreou has summarily dismissed all vocal dissenters from PASOK, he cannot afford to clash openly with his party's activists, even if he would want to. Such a clash could lead to the rapid disintegration of PASOK's organization. Over the years, Papandreou has failed to dilute his cadres' radicalism and, indeed, in his rhetoric to the party faithful he has only reinforced it. He finds himself compelled, both on domestic and on foreign policy issues, to demonstrate his own radicalism. Thus it is no coincidence that the recent attacks against U.S. "imperialism" were launched from the forum of PASOK's Party Congress, which was of course packed with party activists.

The second domestic factor shaping Greek foreign policy is the influence of the KKE on the Socialist government. This factor, largely underrated, is of vital importance if one is to comprehend Papandreou's foreign policy decisions.

One is sometimes tempted to dismiss the KKE. Unlike the smaller, more moderate Greek Communist Party of the Interior, the KKE is Moscow-oriented; unlike the French Communist Party, it has never participated in the government. In Greece much more than in France, however, the Socialists are willing to appease the Communists ideologically, to articulate at times pro-Soviet and anti-Western rhetoric, and to endorse foreign policy stands pleasing to the Soviet Union.

Papandreou fears the Communists' ability to use their power in the trade union movement and consequently to disrupt the Socialists' economic austerity program. Détente with the KKE gives Papandreou more confidence in addressing the mounting domestic issues, and thus in fending off the challenge of the center-right New Democracy Party which he naturally fears the most. This informal understanding also allows him more leeway in pursuing "realistic" foreign policy options, the U.S. bases agreement, for example.

The KKE reaction to the base agreement of 1983 was low-key, and Communist mass mobilization against the "bases of death" never materialized. It is to a great extent in order to compensate for the KKE's "understanding" attitude on the U.S. bases settlement that Papandreou has since endorsed a series of positions on foreign policy which are blatantly pro-Soviet, and has at the same time increased the tone of his anti-Western rhetoric.

The KKE has been quite content with the local détente. During their Eleventh Congress the Communists made it clear that they seek to avoid an outright ideological confrontation with PASOK, choosing instead an approach of "constructive criticism." Confrontation would only make it more difficult for PASOK voters to switch over to the KKE in the future. Yet moderate criticism allows the KKE to undermine Papandreou's credibility among PASOK's leftist supporters by posing as the Socialists' true conscience.

The third factor that explains anti-Westernism in PASOK's foreign policy is populism. Ultra-nationalism and anti-Americanism are still strong in some segments of Greek opinion, and errors by Greece's Western allies over the years tend to reinforce them. It is hardly surprising that Papandreou would seek to appeal to these nationalist feelings. Since the KKE must be appeased, the PASOK activists mollified and some ideological purity maintained, the "Western powers" are convenient targets. As domestic problems mount, outbursts of ultra-nationalism in foreign policy help mobilize Greek public opinion on the side of a beleaguered government fighting against all odds for "national independence."

Thus, quite frequently, Papandreou uses foreign policy "crises" as a diversion from internal difficulties. During the general strike of the bank employees in the summer of 1982, the Socialist government dramatized disagreements with NATO. Papandreou appealed to the strikers "to take into consideration the crucial international crisis facing the nation." Following the municipal elections of 1982, in which PASOK suffered a debacle, Papandreou made a series of tragedian appearances close to the Greek borders, as if war was imminent. The prime minister urged Greeks, and particularly "those residing in large cities" (i.e., those who are hardest hit by inflation and who were evidently most disillusioned with PASOK), to "understand that the main issue that the country is facing at this moment is defending national integrity," rather than the issue of the economy which was cutting into the government's popularity.

Such populism, coupled with Papandreou's systematic attempt to uncover imaginary conspiracies against his government by Greeks and foreigners alike, has formulated a foreign policy characterized by strong elements of jeu de théâtre. Such a policy is unavoidably anti-Western in character.

These domestic factors clash with international realities. The closer Papandreou came to power the more he indicated that he was willing to consider geopolitics and pragmatic solutions reflecting the balance of forces in the area. His visions of a nonaligned Greece had to be shelved, at least temporarily, in the name of a newfound "realism." Though Papandreou dismisses any threat from the communist north and seems to believe that Greece could survive as a nonaligned country in the Balkans, several factors seem to have convinced him that a break with the West is, for the time being, undesirable.

First, and most important, is the state of Greco-Turkish relations. Since 1974 all Greek governments, whatever their ideological orientation or their specific foreign policy approaches, have developed a consensus concerning "the Turkish threat." This preoccupation with Turkey arises over several key issues: the continuing Turkish occupation of Cyprus; ongoing disputes over the continental shelf surrounding Greek islands in the Aegean, especially where oil has been found offshore; and airspace rights over the Aegean. In all of these areas, most Greeks fear that Turkey is attempting, through military and political pressure (if not simple brute force, as in Cyprus), to change the balance of power in the eastern Mediterranean.

The question is whether Greece can defend itself more effectively against Turkey by breaking with its Western allies or by remaining in the Alliance. In spite of his claim that NATO favors Turkey and encourages its expansionist aims, Papandreou seems to have concluded that a rupture of Greece's relations with its allies will, after all, benefit only Turkey. If Greece is to maintain a military parity with Turkey, it can ill afford to antagonize its Western allies and particularly the United States. Greece needs U.S. loans to modernize its armed forces and must convince the United States that a military balance between Greece and Turkey diminishes the possibility of conflict and thus serves the Alliance's long-term goals. By remaining within the Alliance, Greece can much more effectively mobilize Western support in order to discourage Turkish adventurism in the Aegean. Finally, the more Greece distances itself from the West the more it risks that the Alliance will view Turkey as NATO's sole reliable ally in the region.

Economics is another factor which convinces Papandreou not to attempt to break with the West. If Greece were to close down the U.S. bases and withdraw from NATO it would have to spend enormous sums in order to maintain the Greek armed forces' modernization efforts. A growing anti-Western climate in Greece, following the country's pursuit of the nonaligned option, would certainly discourage foreign investment, making it all the more difficult for Greece to secure loans from Western banks. With the country in the midst of a severe economic crisis, foreign policy adventurism hardly seems advisable.

Though most Greeks are dissatisfied with what they consider pro-Turkish bias in NATO and the United States, PASOK's centrist and center-left voters would hardly favor foreign policy adventurism in the absence of blatant provocation. A public opinion poll conducted on behalf of the Center for Political Research and Information showed that 48.7 percent of the population approved of maintaining the U.S. bases while only 26.6 percent disapproved.5


Papandreou seems to have divided his foreign policy concerns into "essential" and "marginal" elements. The former are governed by international realities, the latter, almost exclusively, by the three domestic forces. Greece's basic commitments have not changed: maintenance of U.S. bases, membership in NATO and the European Community. But the overall image of PASOK's foreign policy-both in its style and in its handling of the marginal issues-is characterized by a strong anti-Westernism and, more often than not, a pro-Soviet inclination.

The first problem PASOK had to confront after gaining power in 1981 was negotiating with the Reagan Administration on the status of the U.S. bases in Greece. The importance of these bases for U.S. and NATO strategy in the Mediterranean cannot be denied. The most valuable installation is the complex at Souda at the northwestern edge of the island of Crete. Stored there are large quantities of fuel and munitions, mainly for the U.S. Sixth Fleet. The base has a good harbor, which can accommodate and protect the whole fleet, and a modern airport for reconnaissance flights in the region. At Heraklion, Crete, are an airport for reconnaissance flights and a listening-post for intercepting Soviet transmissions in the eastern Mediterranean. The Hellenicon base in Athens is used as a support base for air transport, and as a base for intelligence flights. Finally, an important naval communications center, part of the U.S. world defense system, is located in Nea Makri, outside Athens, and is connected directly with similar stations in Italy and Spain.

Neither the United States nor Greece has complete freedom of maneuver on the issue of these bases. They are obviously important to the United States, though they are not irreplaceable; Greece, for its part, knows that the transfer of the bases to Turkey would dramatically increase Turkey's strategic value for the Western Alliance-at Greece's expense.

Papandreou is well aware that Greek troops, armed mainly with U.S. weapons, need a steady flow of spare parts. And he cannot ignore the fact that a large part of the cadres of the Greek armed forces have been trained in the United States to use certain modern weapons systems, and that Greece needs U.S. credits to modernize its forces and maintain a balance with Turkey. Despite some antagonistic rhetoric, sound military reasons made an agreement with the United States almost inevitable and Papandreou signed the U.S. bases agreement in September 1983.

However, this became an occasion not for an ideological rapprochement with the Alliance but for ever more violent attacks against it. The agreement itself was presented by Papandreou as a necessary evil: he argued that the bases limited Greek national independence and served only U.S., not Greek, interests. He was at pains to present the agreement as a timetable for the bases' "removal," and claimed that "we have the political will to terminate in five years' time the presence of U.S. bases in Greece."

Papandreou asserts that Greek participation in NATO's military branch has "become inactive." A more accurate term would be "selectively inactive," since Greece still participates in NATO exercises, except those in the Aegean, and Greek representatives regularly attend NATO meetings. Papandreou's grievance against NATO is not only ideological; it focuses as well on two practical issues. One concerns the Greek island of Lemnos; Greece has refused to participate in a series of exercises in the Aegean because they did not include the defense of Lemnos in their scenarios. Turkey claims that Lemnos cannot be militarized short of violating international treaties; Greece has rightly countered that it is inconceivable to exclude part of its territory from the Alliance's defense plans. This stand, it should be noted, is supported by all Greek parties, though disagreement exists concerning the style with which Papandreou's government has approached the problem.

The second issue concerns the interpretation of the Rodgers Agreement signed in 1980, which served as the basis for Greece's reintegration into NATO's military wing. Though this agreement was supposed to solve the issue of operational control over Aegean airspace through the establishment of a new NATO headquarters in Larissa, differing interpretations continue to exist concerning the division of Aegean airspace between these new headquarters and those in Izmir. Bearing in mind the deep-rooted Greek fears of Turkish ambitions in the Aegean, it is understandable that the Greek government is not willing to agree to any divisions of airspace in the Aegean-even in the context of a NATO exercise-that might create precedents for future Turkish claims vis-à-vis Greece.

Despite these issues and his own previous stands, Papandreou in office has made it clear that Greece's refusal to participate in NATO exercises "does not mean that we are thinking of withdrawing from NATO." In sum, one can argue that the Papandreou government does not seem to have a clear strategy toward NATO. There is no better proof of this than the issue of the so-called "guarantees" of the Greek borders.

Shortly after taking office, Papandreou demanded that NATO, "with a simple statement . . . guarantee Greece's borders from every threat, from whatever side it emanates," implying, of course, that the source of the threat is Turkey. He repeated this demand on numerous occasions, making it the cornerstone of his policy toward NATO. The question was even raised at the NATO defense ministers' annual summit in December 1981, but Turkey naturally vetoed any such NATO declaration which would have implied that it was threatening Greece. Suddenly, however, in August 1982, Papandreou dropped the whole issue without explanation. He claimed that "the greatest guarantee is our armed forces," adding, "I never spoke of guarantees. Guarantees are things which are easily forgotten."6 This erratic approach damaged Greece's credibility; its allies were bound to wonder how seriously they should take Papandreou's future "demands."

On a related issue, Papandreou does not seem to question Greece's membership in the European Community and appears to have permanently shelved his demand for a referendum on the issue. Greece's economic benefits from the EC, some economists argue, have kept the Greek economy afloat. Actually, during January-July 1984, Greece had a net profit of $313 million (receipts minus payments to the Community budget). This net profit (during the same months) rose from $113 million in 1982 to $266 million in 1983.7 The Papandreou government has submitted to the EC a memorandum asking for special treatment, particularly on agricultural issues, which has been the object of continuous negotiations since 1982.

The Papandreou government views the EC solely as an economic entity from which Greece can derive financial benefits. It has failed to promote-and in fact has hindered-political cooperation within the Community. The PASOK government has many times found itself isolated in opposition on a number of European foreign policy initiatives-for example, those concerning Poland, the Middle East, and the U.S.S.R.


On "marginal" issues, Papandreou's policy has been clearly anti-Western and often blatantly pro-Soviet. A prime example was Papandreou's hesitant response to the Polish crisis.

Following the declaration of martial law in Poland in December 1981, the Greek government maintained silence; the PASOK Secretariat expressed its "deep concern," while avoiding, however, any condemnation of the Polish regime. Exormisi, PASOK's weekly journal, offered its "support to the Polish people," but made it clear that PASOK had no "prejudices or enmities toward each of the struggling sides." The PASOK group in the European Parliament refused to join in a condemnation of the Polish regime. When Under Secretary of Foreign Affairs Asimakis Photilas signed an EC communiqué condemning the Jaruzelski regime, obviously without Mr. Papandreou's approval, he was abruptly dismissed from the government while en route from Brussels to Athens. (Later reinstated, Photilas has since resigned.)

Finally, after nearly a month had elapsed, the Papandreou government felt it had no alternative but to condemn the Polish regime in a NATO communiqué. Subsequently, however, it not only opposed all sanctions against Poland, but officially endorsed the view (in a Ministry of Foreign Affairs circular) that "whatever solution would have been imposed on the Polish people, other than the Jaruzelski regime, would have been worse. . . ."

Papandreou, during his recent visit to Poland, claimed that the Jaruzelski regime "is making a truly serious and sincere effort." He argued that Solidarity pushed too fast for changes and became "a dangerous negation." He described Jaruzelski as "a patriot." He avoided-when questioned-calling the Polish regime a dictatorship, and accused Western countries of attempting to "undermine the political structures" of the Eastern bloc countries.

On the question of NATO's decision to deploy new intermediate-range nuclear weapons in Western Europe, the Papandreou government sided with the Soviets by demanding non-deployment of Pershing II and cruise missiles but not withdrawal of the SS-20s. The Papandreou government has also refused either to condemn the U.S.S.R. for its occupation of Afghanistan or to agree that there are strong indications that the Soviets are using chemical weapons in that country.

Papandreou has endorsed and promoted enthusiastically an old Romanian plan for a "denuclearized Balkan zone." PASOK has systematically avoided condemning the abuse of human rights in the Eastern bloc, though it has been more than willing to accuse right-wing military regimes elsewhere. In a typical example of such bias, the state-controlled television referred in the same newscast to José Napoleón Duarte of El Salvador as "the dictator Duarte" and to Jaruzelski as "the leader of Poland."

In the Middle East the Papandreou government has also been at odds with Greece's allies. It has adopted an extreme anti-Israeli stand (which provoked incidents of anti-Semitism in Greece) and endorsed the views of the most extreme Arab states. It was recently revealed that PASOK concluded an agreement of close cooperation with the Syrian Baathist Party aimed against "world imperialism and racist Zionism."8 Interestingly enough, though the Papandreou government has been Yassir Arafat's most vociferous supporter, it failed to condemn the Syrian takeover of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Overall, Papandreou's tendency to take sides in the Middle East has earned him more enemies than friends in the area.

It is hardly surprising that the Soviet Union seems content with Papandreou's foreign policy, in spite of the fact that Greece is still a member of NATO and a host to U.S. bases. Soviet Vice Admiral Kalinan recently expressed "Soviet satisfaction for the similar positions and the identity of views of the Greek and Soviet governments on the major issues of international policy. . . .9 A Pravda article also noted that "on important issues of foreign policy, the Papandreou government speaks with its own voice." The Soviet Communist Party paper heralded the new positive aspects of Greek foreign policy.

The U.S. response to Papandreou's anti-Western stance has been, until recently at least, extremely restrained. Monteagle Stearns, the U.S. ambassador to Greece, has insisted that Washington judge the Papandreou government on the basis of its deeds, not its words. Until the summer of 1984, the United States managed to ignore Papandreou's rhetoric. With the prime minister's attack against the United States during PASOK's first Congress in May 1984, irritation began creeping into American statements. Though the incident was contained, there is little doubt that U.S. impatience has been increasing since.


It is often argued that the "tone" of Papandreou's foreign policy is of little practical importance. What matters most, this argument continues, is that on essential foreign policy issues Papandreou has chosen to avoid a break with the West.

The anti-Western tone of Papandreou's foreign policy, however, may well have neutralized whatever benefits Greece might have gained from its realism on the central issues. The tone also affects Greek domestic politics. The more strident Papandreou's anti-Westernism becomes the deeper he sinks into the quicksand of his own rhetoric. If he is still in power when the U.S. bases agreement ends in September 1988 it will be very difficult for PASOK not to insist on closing them down. The more Greek foreign policy is ideologically anti-Western and pro-Soviet, the more the KKE's views will gain legitimacy and support in Greek society. If a PASOK-KKE coalition should come about, the Communists and PASOK's own left-wing could put pressure on Papandreou to implement his own party's long-standing "strategic aims"-including withdrawal from NATO.

Thus, the anti-Western tone of the Socialists' foreign policy does matter. On the practical level, it leads to Greece's isolation from its allies (thus weakening its positions vis-à-vis its northern neighbors and Turkey). On the ideological level, it strengthens leftist tendencies within PASOK, encourages an anti-Western climate in the country, and allows the KKE to increase its influence.

The West, and particularly the United States, needs to demonstrate greater sensitivity to Greece's genuine alarm over Turkish actions and intentions. For PASOK, the only logic behind Papandreou's realism is that Greece needs Western assistance to counter the Turkish threat. The Turkish problem is, indeed, a matter of Greece's vital interests. In maintaining a balance of power with Turkey and pressing for a just solution of the Cyprus issue, any Greek government must stand up against any friend or foe. Anti-Westernism in Greece was not created in a vacuum; it was produced largely by actions, or lack of action, by Greece's allies.

The United States can maintain its sensible low profile in dealing with Papandreou. After all, he has not damaged any vital Western interests in the area. Of course, should Papandreou prove unable or unwilling to curtail his anti-Western outbursts, Greek-American relations could deteriorate rapidly, a development from which neither side stands to gain. However, a major rupture in the two countries' relations seems, for the time being, rather improbable.

One danger, however, is Washington's tendency to play the Turkish card. There appears to be a school of thought in the United States that since Papandreou is proving to be a nuisance, the West should "warn" him to return to the fold by tipping the balance of political and military support in favor of Turkey-a (supposedly) "loyal" ally.10 If Washington does decide to punish the Papandreou government by altering in Turkey's favor the current ratio in U.S. military aid, and thus upsets the balance of power in the Aegean, the chances of a severe crisis in Greco-Turkish relations would significantly increase.

While the bulk of public opinion in Greece continues to support the country's "Western option," attitudes would change radically upon a U.S. decision to tilt toward Turkey. This would be viewed as a direct attack on Greek vital national interests and would provoke a wave of anti-Western resentment. These feelings would in their turn be easily exploitable by the left to push Greece even further-maybe irrevocably-from the West.

It must be recognized that Papandreou has not permanently shelved his anti-NATO and anti-American objectives. But his immediate options are limited, and an appreciation of reality will, more probably than not, continue to guide his policies. However, exactly because one should not underestimate the impact of the domestic political factors in shaping Papandreou's more radical tendencies, the West, and particularly the United States, should carefully nurture his realistic core commitment to the Western Alliance, despite his provocative and radical rhetoric-and particularly as Greece enters the national election year of 1985.

1 Quoted in K. Boura, "Greece and NATO: 1952-1980," Epikentra, No. 17, p. 38.

3 A. Papandreou, speaking to PASOK cadres, March 16, 1975, italics added.

5 Nationwide poll (unpublished) conducted by EMRB Hellas on behalf of the Center for Political Research and Information in October 1983 with a sample of 2,700.

7 Vima, September 9, 1984.

8 The agreement can be found in Gramma, November 16, 1983.

9 Kathimerini, October 13, 1983.

10 This position has been endorsed by The Wall Street Journal Europe, in "Mediterranean Friends," December 8, 1983.


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  • John C. Loulis is Director of Studies at the Center for Political Research and Information in Athens, editor of the bi-monthly journal Epikentra, and columnist for the daily Kyziakatiki Apogermatini. He has written on Greek affairs regularly in The Wall Street Journal. Among his publications is The Greek Communist Party 1940-1944, London: Croom Helm, 1981. This article was adapted from a seminar paper presented at the Lehrman Institute in New York.
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