If we observe Athens from a great distance we will see its lights at night, and if it is day we will see its white mass. We are in there. But the city, no matter how much it needs us, lives in our absence. As the world changes rapidly, unpredictably, the geopolitics of cities also changes. Issues of cultural geography, as well as competitive economics, are presented as major dimensions for understanding the particular nature of cities as variables over time. There is a special interest for Athens, as in the last 100 (at least) years it has been influenced, suffered and cultivated a particular cultural physiognomy, which becomes a hybrid of an urban greenhouse. Our era has given Athens new international characteristics and has defined zones of interest and influence, very foreign to those that were functional and acceptable during the Cold War or even in the fifteen years 1990-2005, when the virgin land of the former Eastern Europe existed. .
Today, Athens, as a metropolis that is gaining awareness of its urban path, faces great challenges. Competition between cities is often distinct from competition between states. Cities become springs, levers, reactors. At the end of the 20th century, industrial cities like Glasgow or Bilbao rose like swans, tired metropolises like Barcelona set a new example, and new destinations east of Berlin gradually became urban centers of mass tourism (like Prague or Budapest). Nothing reminds of the hazy time when Greece was an autonomous part of the European South, together with Italy and Spain. Croatia was part of Yugoslavia, Turkey economically backward until 2000. In the cataclysmic changes of the last 15 years, Athens must find an axis, a goal, and cultivate an ambition. And the targeting must go far and over time. Ambition is not superior to many accommodations and many others, which are also necessary, but not sufficient. The world is changing rapidly. And those who live with their ease, will be drowned. Athens, with its enormous potential, must become aware of its equally enormous disadvantages. These disadvantages (the way we perceive over time, e.g., the urban tissue) must persevere us, stimulate our love, make us recuperate and see Athens in an international perspective in the coming decades. Urban geopolitics is an experiment in intelligence and efficiency.