OPINION

Overblown expectations

As expansion dilutes the integrity of the European Union, European officials are faced with a decline in political cohesion. Only time will tell what the outcome of the EU’s historic wager will be; whether it will be confined to a market of 25, perhaps more, states or whether it will actually work toward achieving a closer union. For the time being, the course of union enlargement causes concern among Europeans and satisfaction in the United States. EU expansion, it should be said, marks a strategic victory for Washington in the light of the ongoing realignments in our globalizing world. The EU’s most powerful countries are doing their utmost to limit the economic damage from a possible Iraqi invasion. France and Germany (which will head the UN Security Council this month and February respectively) are the main players in the bargaining with Washington and London. Greece, currently the head of the EU’s rotating presidency, is concerned about its image in a pre-election period. The unfolding power play between the Europeans and the USA is too strong for the Greek presidency to play a crucial role. And given that Athens will be little more than a EU mouthpiece in the case of Iraq, the Greek administration should water down its rhetoric about the country’s image in Europe. Unfortunate as this may be, the country’s image in Europe has inevitably been tainted by its poor performance in all productive and creative areas, by the penalties it has been called upon to pay for incidents such as the land register fiasco, by its poor reputation in matters of public administration, and by European rebukes over the squandering of EU money destined for infrastructure projects. The «image» that Prime Minister Costas Simitis refers to lies in the sphere of his imagination.