NEWS

Iraq war poses EU challenge for Greece

Greece will take over the six-month rotating presidency of the European Union from Denmark on Wednesday, at a time when the possibility of a US-led war in Iraq threatens to complicate the Greek presidency’s task. Europe’s top banker, European Central Bank Governor Wim Duisenberg, warned yesterday that «a war is bad news for the economy.» In an interview on Dutch television, he said that the US Federal Reserve chairman, Alan Greenspan, agreed that the threat of war was bad for the economy. War would further complicate one of the tasks Greece will have to face – chairing the debate over reforms to the Stability and Growth Pact, which supports the EU’s single currency. Greece’s aims are: concluding enlargement, with a ceremony at the foot of the Acropolis on April 16; shaping economic strategy; tackling the problems of migration and illegal immigration; monitoring the work of the Convention on the Future of Europe which is drafting Europe’s new structures and helping shape the EU’s foreign policy. The last time Greece held the presidency, in 1994, it helped negotiate the accession of Austria, Sweden and Finland. This time, referendums will have to be held in all 10 new members before April 16, which means the presidency may still have some tricky diplomacy to carry out. War in Iraq would also complicate the other aims of the presidency. Communist Party-led demonstrators plan to dog every EU meeting in Greece, starting from an informal one on employment in Nafplion on Jan. 24 to the Thessaloniki Summit on June 20-22.