The unanimous decision of the plenary committee of the Greek Parliament that urges the Greek government to recognise the Palestinian State in conjunction with the visit of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Athens on 20-22 / 12/2015 are developments of particular importance both for bilateral Greek-Palestinian relations and the Palestinian Question. It reiterates the historical friendship of the two peoples and takes place in a period of geopolitical instability and change of balance of power in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East. Additionally this initiative, which was launched during the presidency of Zoe Konstantopoulou, reflects indirectly the intentions of the Greek foreign policy on the Palestinian issue and the Arab world, boosting the image of the current Greek government in the Greek public opinion. The only imperfection in this initiative of the Greek parliament was the fact that President Abbas spoke at the Senate Hall and not the Plenary Hall.
Just a year ago (12.14.2014, Daily) we wrote about the prospect of an initiative of the Greek Parliament to proceed to the direction of recognising the Palestinian State. The basic argument for such a development is the necessary motivation and diversity of Greek foreign policy in the Middle East with the Palestinian be a reference point in the relationship between Greece and Palestine particularly, and the Arab and Muslim world in general.
As for the decision of the Greek Government to use in the official documents of the Greek state, the term “Palestine” instead of “Palestinian Authority” is in the right direction, but it will become essential when the Greek Government applies systematically the decision of the Greek Parliament. Otherwise it will be a fleeting decision not binding for future Greek governments. Greece is one of the 57 members of a total of 193 members of the UN and one of 21 members in total 28 EU members that have not recognised the Palestinian State government. Knowing that Cyprus, with which Greece shares a common geopolitical, and not only, environment, recognised the Palestinian State in 2013, the question is why Athens is reluctant to do something similar. Obviously the politicians in Greece need to be more courageous and determined.
Currently Greece participates in two “triangles” (Greece-Cyprus-Israel and Greece-Cyprus-Egypt) which form essentially a quadrangular (Greece-Cyprus-Israel-Egypt). In this context the Greece-Cyprus-Palestine relations have their own potential regardless of whether there is in practice an independent Palestinian state. The size and importance of Palestine is not confined to the narrow context of a nation-state but is represented by the Palestinian Diaspora around the world. The power of the Diaspora is greater in the economy and culture although politically-strategically there is not yet a state-benchmark for this. The Greek political and business world needs to acknowledge the strength of the Palestinian Diaspora in order to continue the Greek-Palestinian cooperation in the future on more solid foundations. When this is understood, then we can talk about a new regional triangle, that between Greece-Cyprus-Palestine.
This article was published in Kathimerini.