Nikos Konstandaras NIKOS KONSTANDARAS

The G20 summit and Greece

COMMENT

TAGS: US, Politics, Turkey

Greece is by no means a member of the group of the 20 most powerful economies in the world and has no place at the table at the Osaka summit meeting on Friday and Saturday.

The issues that will be discussed, however, are of critical importance to our country. Among these are the consequences on global trade caused by the tension between the United States and China, as well as between the United States and the European Union. Also, the possibility of conflict between the United States and Iran, and the course of US-Turkish relations, will have a direct impact on Greece. Anything that reduces global trade, or destabilizes our region, will come at a heavy cost for our country.

Even under stable conditions and with low energy prices, economic recovery is very difficult.

US President Donald Trump’s statements before the summit do not augur well for a compromise with Chinese President Xi Jinping when the two leaders meet on Saturday to discuss China’s proposal for a suspension of the trade dispute.

The World Trade Organization sees growth in global trade increasing by 2.6 percent in 2019, from 3 percent last year. It hopes for a rebound to 3 percent next year if things do not worsen. But if the United States imposes tariffs on all Chinese products, growth will slow down further.

With regard to Russia, Trump has a good relationship with Vladimir Putin but they have a serious and pressing difference to discuss: Just as tension between Washington and Tehran is reaching dangerous levels, Russia is squarely behind Iran.

This situation will also affect the meeting between Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan: Washington is angered by Ankara’s insistence on purchasing Russia’s S-400 missile systems – and by Turkey’s siding with Russia, Iran and Qatar in regional disputes, whereas the United States backs Israel and Saudi Arabia.

The tension between the United States and Turkey encourages stronger ties between Washington and Athens, but if conditions in the region deteriorate Greece could lose more than it may gain – through a drop in tourism, through lost investments, higher fuel costs, and so on.

Also, whether it conforms to Washington’s demands or not, Ankara will remain unpredictable with regard to Greece and Cyprus.

Good relations with the United States and Israel, along with membership of the European Union, are important but they are not enough.

Greece is not in a position to affect international developments and must take every measure to be prepared for whatever may come. Now more than ever.

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