Alliance hits storm

Washington’s plans for a showdown in Iraq – which are being carried out with an eye on Baghdad’s huge oil resources – has thrown the relationship between the biggest EU states and the USA into turmoil. After the serious crisis caused by the transatlantic rift within the European Union (with the much discussed move by the «gang of eight» and the subsequent pledge by 10 small, former communist countries to back the USA on Iraq), NATO has hit a similar storm itself. The decision by France, Germany and Belgium to block NATO military planning for steps to defend Turkey in the event of a war on its neighbor has plunged the alliance into the deepest crisis of the last 40 years after former French President Charles de Gaulle pulled his country out of the military wing of the alliance. The decision by Belgium, which hosts the NATO headquarters, to veto the US plans carries symbolic weight and is indicative of the depth of the crisis. These are definitely historic times. The outcome of ongoing developments will determine the future of European integration, the nature of EU-US ties, and the new face of the old Continent. History has taught us that alliances, groupings and divisions inside Europe foreshadow nothing but ills. The Greek presidency of the EU has found itself in a very difficult position and it will have to be very cautious in safeguarding our national interests. First, it is obvious that the size of this global confrontation far exceeds our leverage. Athens should by no means get carried away in seeking a leading role in the outcome of this clash by virtue of its office as EU president. What is more, the dilemma facing our country is extremely daunting. Greece’s participation in Europe’s fledgling economic and political unification suggests that Athens falls behind the Franco-German axis of European unification. On the other hand, our national security depends primarily on America’s stance toward Greece, given that Washington is the sole state with decisive influence on Turkey and the only one that can contain Ankara’s occasional outbursts of aggression. Greece has a strong interest in a EU-US consensus so that it can enjoy a smooth relationship with both power centers as it has to date. Should we have to take sides, the price would be huge.