As Greece prepares to take EU helm again, it looks at what the ‘others’ think of it

In the middle of the 1980s, many of Greece’s media organizations were fixated on what other nations thought of the Greeks. Even the briefest foreign press report that reflected poorly on Greece or its people made front-page news, though the same treatment was not given to lengthier, but more positive reports. The world, it seemed, was anti-Greek. This syndrome, of which some traces still remain, has never allowed us to have a good look at what our partners in the Western world think of us, particularly those in Europe with whom we have been developing closer bonds and whose opinions might be extremely useful. To mark Greece’s 22 years as a member of the European Union, the Greek Center for European Studies and Research (EKEME) has undertaken a survey, not among the public but among EKEME’s corresponding organizations in 13 other EU member states, all members of the Trans-European Policy Studies Association (TEPSA). Questionnaires were sent out from Athens to seek Europeans’ opinions of Greece’s 20 years in Europe – both its record to date and their predictions for the future, particularly as Greece prepares for another term at the helm of the EU’s rotating presidency. Although these institutes do not represent the official views of their states, neither do they seem to depart from them to any degree, at least as we imagine them to be. Yet the EKEME survey results are interesting precisely because the answers are given by European technocrats who know as well as anyone else the EU’s institutional, political and administrative foundations. Many of them will be having more say in Brussels about Greek affairs in the future. The issues touched upon in the survey include the degree to which they believe Greece makes use of European funds, the country’s role in the creation of European institutions, how Greece has handled its terms in the presidency and how they expect it to handle the next one, their perception of Greece’s views on the use of the veto, EU enlargement and the importance of Greece’s role in the Economic and Monetary Union. Foreign policy and the prime minister’s image were also focused on. In general, it appears that no one understands what Greeks really want regarding EU development. Nor do they understand why Greece made such a fuss about our northern neighbor using the name «Macedonia,» or why Greece supported Serbia and Milosevic. While most Greeks are not seen to fear enlargement, other Europeans don’t want to hear about our foreign policy issues, nor the veto of the Common Foreign Policy and Civil Defense, or anything else for that matter.