OPINION

European ‘recognition’

Prime Minister Costas Simitis, as head of the Greek presidency of the European Union, is to brief members of the European Commission and its president, Romano Prodi, today on the goals of the presidency, which he has claimed will not be simply of a «managerial» nature – thereby trying to escape Greek reality. In other words, Simitis, who as prime minister of Greece is incapable of reining in public works contractors, their faulty construction and the squandering of state money because of the way these projects are contracted out, is trying to convince himself and others of his ability to manage European issues. Greece’s previous EU presidencies – all during PASOK administrations – have had their picturesque aspects, such as the summit in Rhodes. They were generally successful, however, considering the state of the administration in recent decades due to the policies of successive governments and the country’s limitations in human resources. However, neither the image of Andreas Papandreou was judged, nor will that of Simitis be judged, by his six-month stint at the helm of the EU – nor by the various summits that have become so expensive that consideration is being given to meeting the needs of each presidency on a permanent basis in Brussels. Simitis might be aiming at some high office in the newly enlarged Union but until that happens, he is still prime minister of a member state and that means dealing with daily problems, securing transparency in public life and safeguarding public money. This is precisely what Simitis has abandoned in his pursuit of recognition in Europe. The EU presidency provides him with the opportunity to resort to an artificial reality, something which will probably be upset by a war against Iraq.