However, what is most concerning for Greek diplomacy is their seeming shock that Iran had responded to the unprovoked hostility by seizing the Greek tankers Delta Poseidon and Prudent Warrior in the Persian Gulf on May 27. Writes Paul Antonopoulos
Greek authorities on orders from Washington seized in April the Russian-flagged Pegas tanker that was carrying Iranian oil. This has sparked a diplomatic crisis between Athens and Tehran and proved beyond doubt that that current Greek administration is serving Washington’s interests rather than Greece’s. It also exposed the supposed “European Strategic Autonomy” as nothing more than a buzz phrase without any real substance to it.
“Following a request from the US justice system, the oil is to be transferred to the United States at the expense of that country,” a spokeswoman for the Greek port police told AFP, thus confirming 21st century piracy by a supposed modern and law-abiding democracy.
However, what is most concerning for Greek diplomacy is their seeming shock that Iran had responded to the unprovoked hostility by seizing the Greek tankers Delta Poseidon and Prudent Warrior in the Persian Gulf on May 27.
Iran launched a barrage of missile strikes against US military bases after Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp leader Qassem Soleimani was assassinated in January 2020. It is also recalled that Iran seized British ships in 2019 after Britain’s Royal Marines assisted in the seizure of an Iranian oil supertanker near Gibraltar. If Iran made proportionate responses to hostilities from two powerful and nuclear armed states, it defies belief that Athens did not expect the Islamic Republic to respond, especially as 17 Greek-flagged vessels were vulnerable in the Persian Gulf.
Prominent Greek journalist Kotrotsos Serafeim tweeted on May 27: “It is very serious and can turn into a storm. There are currently 17 Greek ships in the Persian Gulf. Large Greek companies are in Iran. It took years to build this relationship. Prudence and attention are required. Only our interests count.”
Not only do major Greek companies operate in Iran, but in early 2021, discussions of a transportation-economic corridor were held, with delegations from Greece, Iran, Armenia, Georgia and Bulgaria. In January, Greece provided 200,000 COVID-19 vaccines to Iran in a bid to boost soft power initiatives. In addition, on May 16, the Iranian and Greek Foreign Ministers held a phone call and emphasized the need to “maintain high-level interactions between the two nations.”
However, it is clear that Tehran became frustrated with Greece’s unrelenting ambition to follow US orders and not resolve the crisis of having its oil illegally confiscated, hence the vessel seizures in the Persian Gulf to force the issue to be discussed and resolved.
The diplomatic crisis between Athens and Tehran, coupled with the crisis with Moscow, has undermined Greek interests for the sake of serving Washington’s.
Greece effectively has three routes to reach resource-rich Central Asia – shipping to Russia via the Black Sea; shipping to Syria and then a land route to Iraq and Iran; or, a land route via Turkey, Azerbaijan and the Caspian Sea. By carrying out US orders loyally, it makes a mockery of the claim made by French President Emmanuel Macron and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis that they are working towards “European Strategic Autonomy.”
With Athens having destroyed its relations with Tehran and Moscow, it is evident that the Mitsotakis government prefers the route to Central Asia via Turkey and Azerbaijan – a disturbing prospect considering that the two Turkic-speaking countries in the last week of May conducted joint military exercises and trained on how to land, storm and capture a Greek island.
Athens prefer access to Central Asia via Turkey, which on a daily basis violates Greece’s airspace and questions the sovereignty of the Greek islands. It is also remembered that on September 4 2020, Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev told the Greek Ambassador: “Without any hesitation whatsoever, we support Turkey and will support it under any circumstances. We support them in all issues, including the issue in the Eastern Mediterranean.”
The ruling New Democracy in Greece is traditionally the party of the Greek bourgeois and Western-wannabe liberals. With their return to power in 2019, a changed and more pragmatic foreign policy was promised. And although this has seen relations between Athens and the Arab World, India and Africa grow to unprecedented heights, and even initially major improvements in its ties with Russia, as soon as the Mediterranean country’s “new and pragmatic” foreign policy was put to the test, under the banner of “European Strategic Autonomy”, New Democracy quickly contracted back to serving Washington’s interests instead of Greece’s. This again is evidenced by the very fact that only the US, and not the European Union, has an embargo on Iranian oil.
Paul Antonopoulos, independent geopolitical analyst.
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