While the Greek Socialist government's assertive, independent policy appears to have given a boost to national pride, it has produced few concrete results.
Greek conservatives, however, are worried that promised foreign policy changes, such as leaving NATO's military wing or an altered relationship with the European Community, would signal a hard-to-reverse turn to neutralism, nonalignment and, ultimately, the Soviet orbit. Some conservatives believe they see telltale signs already.
Although the previous government initiated a pro-Arab Middle East policy in the hopes of finding new markets, Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou has championed radical Arab causes.
Greece became the first member of the European Community to grant diplomatic recognition to the Palestine Liberation Organization when chairman Yasser Arafat paid a triumphal visit to Athens in December. Even some pro-Arab Greeks found the warmth of the official welcome in questionable taste.
However, budding relations with Libya soured when Tripoli turned down the nomination of a high-ranking Socialist official as ambassador, apparently because Col. Muammar Qaddafi resented close Greek relations with his archrival, Iraq.
In preparation for probable talks later this year with the United States about the future of four American bases here, Papandreou has declared "unacceptable" the agreement worked out by Gen. Bernard Rogers, NATO's supreme commander, under which Greece last year rejoined the military wing of the alliance that it left in 1974.
Under that accord, Greece also was to negotiate jurisdictional questions about Aegean airspace with Turkey. Papandreou broke off those talks when he came to power.
Papandreou first announced that the talks with the United States would open early this year, but they now appear likely to start later--just in time to allow him to meet American officials first, including President Reagan, at the June NATO summit meeting.
The apparent delay in starting the talks also reflects Papandreou's desire, according to diplomats, to get to know his newly appointed armed services chiefs, whose predecessors had him arrested in 1967. Underlining his decision to make defense his priority, he has promised the military better pay, housing and assignment policies. Greece badly needs to modernize its armed forces' equipment--and that could serve as powerful incentive for agreement--but at the same time Papandreou's brand of nonalignment makes it hard for him to go along with the Reagan administration's hard-line policy on the Soviet Union.
While Papandreou's government has done a lot of public muscle flexing, the actual negotiations still lie ahead.
Despite Papandreou's well-publicized effort, so far he has failed to persuade any Western leader to back his demands to revise Greece's relationships with NATO and the European Community.
On the contrary, community officials say they hope to show him how to extract maximum benefits from the existing machinery.
Papandreou also has hardened positions on differences with Turkey as a way of focusing Washington's mind on the problem.
That sure-fire nationalistic tactic also includes invoking the now-standard differences with Greece's Aegean neighbor: sovereignty disputes over airspace, the continental shelf and the limits of territorial waters as well as strong support for the Greek Cypriots.
The Soviet Union, meanwhile, has abandoned its traditionally evenhanded stance toward Greek-Turkish disputes, taking a distinctly pro-Greek position.
The Soviet media recently came out strongly in favor of the Greek government in a move seen as a partial response to the Western outcry that followed the imposition of military rule in Poland.
On Poland, Papandreou broke ranks with his NATO allies on the question of imposing sanctions against Poland and the Soviet Union.
In another demonstration of Papandreou's independent policy, he last month revived a ship-repair agreement for Soviet Navy auxiliary vessels on the island of Syros. A similar agreement concluded by Papandreou's predecessor had been allowed to lapse in 1980 under Western pressure.