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From 1914 to 2014

By Nikos Xydakis

A whole century has passed since 1914, the year when Europe became embroiled in the Great War, a conflict that was essentially a civil war among nations if we look at it in retrospect. Greece more particularly sank into a period of turmoil known as the National Schism over differences of opinion regarding what role the country had to take in World War I.

In most ways 2014 is much different to 1914, but there are a few similarities, mostly regarding the crucial issues that arise from the historical circumstances.

Challenges that we stand in front of today much as we did back in 1914 include the ever widening gap between rich and poor and growing inequality within society, the geopolitical upheaval on the fringes of Europe, an economic crisis that seems nowhere close to coming to an end and the emergence of new forces on a global level.

In this historical watershed, Greece needs to make some crucial decisions about its fate and about how it will manoeuvre itself into a more propitious position so that it can curb its losses and achieve an equilibrium in what is a radically new set of circumstances.

The European Union is no longer the safe haven it was in 1974 when Greece emerged from the dictatorship nor what it was in 1980, when the country signed the accession treaty to join the European Economic Union. Everything about Europe has changed, from its identity and its orientation to the internal balance of power at play.

The non-European part of the Mediterranean, meanwhile, is also changing drastically: the dramatic developments in war-torn Syria, embattled Egypt and fractured Libya most decidedly concern and have an effect on Greece. Even the crisis that has started to emerged in Ukraine will have a consequences for Greece, not to mention, of course, the political turmoil in neighboring Turkey.

Here in Greece, the deep economic crisis has revealed the magnitude of the political crisis not just in the structures and institutions of the state but also in terms of national self-determination and long-term goal-setting. In this sense alone we can make parallels with 1914, and it is in this sense also that we should closely examine the consequences of the choices made 100 years ago on our geopolitical position and on our prospects in the 20th century.

We need to look at 2014 in the same way – without blinders. Like then, we are at a historical threshold with new social formations and new geopolitical relations emerging to the fore. The last thing we need is to expend our energies on internal divisions.

ekathimerini.com , Friday Jan 31, 2014 (20:01)  
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