The EU and us: Dependence and carelessness

The EU and us: Dependence and carelessness

The road that the European Union takes will determine the future of the Greeks. Whichever way we look at it, Greece on its own is not big enough to ensure the security and prosperity of its people without powerful allies. Our traditional “guardians” are much less powerful today than in the days when their rivalries determined our fate. 

Today, we have the good fortune to depend on a union that we chose to join. We are making progress in an environment which protects our identity and demands continual improvement of our always inadequate state. We have the right and duty to take care of our interests while contributing to the strengthening and development of the EU. When these two priorities work in together, both our country and the Union benefit. 

Today’s elections for Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), though, show that our country is in an odd relationship with the EU: even as we depend on it, we display a strange indifference towards this symbiosis. 

We want “more Europe” but we do not discuss what this means, what would benefit us and what would endanger our interests. We declare faith in democracy and liberty but we expect others to take decisions for us. We must either have blind faith in them or are too lazy to debate issues that will determine the quality of our lives and our children’s’ future. In these elections we see, once again, that we did not get away from the contents and tensions of our domestic political disputes. 

The questions that occupied us during the pre-electoral period, as they do today, are whether the New Democracy government will emerge stronger or whether its wings will be clipped, whether PASOK will overtake Syriza for second place, how well Velopoulos and other groups to the right of ND will fare. 

As usual, for us the euroelections are a referendum on how the government is doing – a non-binding depiction of the moment which, however, may determine developments. Whatever happens at this level will, most likely, not contribute towards strengthening the Greek presence in the European Parliament. What counts there is the quality of those elected, their participation in European developments and towards the strengthening of our country and the EU. 

A survey published recently by diaNEOsis found that the overwhelming majority of Greeks (from 72 percent to 83.8 percent) favor greater EU involvement in defense and foreign policy, in health, in the environment, in education, in the economy and migration. But how is this achieved when one in two voters is expected to stay away from the polls, when it is most likely that candidates will be elected on the strength of their celebrity rather than for their knowledge of things European and of the real interests of Greece? 

If our new representatives in the European Parliament are not an improvement on the last lot, this will confirm the suspicion that even in the most serious issues we talk big but we leave responsibility for decisions on others – on those who vote when we don’t, on other countries’ MEPs and the senior officials that they promote. If we citizens don’t force politicians to change mentality, if we do not vote and act with a view towards our country’s survival, we will remain blissfully ignorant of danger. Convinced that the routine of our domestic disputes can protect us, we will still rely on the kindness of strangers. 

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