NEWS

Working together is the key

«Greece is activating and updating its legislation, while developing institutions and mechanisms for regional and interstate cooperation. Our country is not just changing laws but participating in international organizations,» says Stefanos Pavlou, professor of criminal law at the Thrace Law School, which held a meeting to discuss the issue. «There has been great progress in the field of cooperation conventions with other countries; in addition to law 2865/2000, which ratified the convention with Bulgaria on organized crime, law 2814/2000 on trilateral cooperation of Greece, Romania and Bulgaria is already in operation, and law 2926/2001 ratified a similar agreement between Greece and Turkey. A common feature of these conventions is that states make a commitment to each other to provide information and to collaborate on stamping out crime and taking judicial measures.» Aristotelis Haralambakis, vice rector of Thrace University, and a professor of criminal law, notes what he called a reluctance on the part of Greek customs officials «to establish what sort of infringements have taken place and to describe the extent to which they could help in pinpointing and effectively tackling them. The inspection method, equipment, organization and structure of service are inadequate.» Of course, for the Europeans, the disagreement is nothing but a return to the good old pre-September 11 days. That was when we could all express healthy outrage at President Bush’s decision to walk away from the Kyoto Agreement on limiting greenhouse gases, when America continued to oppose the establishment of a permanent court for war crimes, when it cared nothing about ratifying a ban on land mines, when it executed its own and others’ citizens. America, having shown that it can win wars on its own, is accused once again of doing what it wants, justifying itself to no one and demanding what it wants of its friends and enemies. Bush has done little to alleviate this. In his talk of capturing Osama bin Laden «dead or alive,» he conjures up a cowboy culture that might alienate other nations. His declarations that whoever is not with America is «with the terrorists,» and the «axis of evil» that he has devised to lump together the disparate states of Iran, Iraq and North Korea might be great for steeling Americans’ resolve, but they also raise fears elsewhere that Washington may rush in where angels fear to tread, upsetting delicate balances and causing a backlash that may lead to further trouble. French officials, for example, have been growing increasingly critical of what their foreign minister, Hubert Vedrine, on Wednesday called America’s «simplistic approach that reduces all the problems in the world to the struggle against terrorism.» This came a week after Bush presented his budget, in which he cut some social programs and introduced a deficit in order to provide more funds for security at home and abroad. The greatest criticism will, no doubt, come from Americans themselves if they judge that Bush’s budget and policies have damaged the economy more than they have benefited the country’s security. That is their call. What affects the rest of us, though, is what effect America’s actions have on the world.