OPINION

European dilemma

The war has caused many problems that are difficult to solve, not only in US-European relations but within Europe itself. The emergence of an open conflict between two opposing poles, each with a conflicting policy regarding Iraq, has split Europe into a «European» camp, headed by France and Germany, on the one hand, and an «American» camp on the other, led by Britain with the help of Spain and Italy. The alignment with the US of all the EU candidates for membership in Central and Eastern Europe has complicated things even more, by creating a plethora of questions regarding the expedience and the real repercussions of the enlargement decided upon in Copenhagen. In view of the hotly debated political disputes regarding the war and predictions of the likely nature of the postwar world, procedures related to crucial aspects of European integration have been sped up. The most spectacular of all is the tripartite meeting scheduled for April 29 between France, Germany and Belgium to discuss the potential for closer military cooperation. This could prove to be extremely important for the future of the EU. On the surface, one could say that this is the start of the «enhanced cooperation» already provided for in the Amsterdam treaty in 1997 and further discussed at December 2000’s Nice summit. In fact, this is the beginning of procedures aimed at forming a «hard core» within the EU, consisting of a restricted, single-digit number of countries that are deeply integrated on all levels, leaving 20-25 other «second tier» member states to float around them, or even many different tiers of economic integration – in effect a huge free-trade zone. The fact that yesterday’s European Commission report mentions the prospect of accession of five more Balkan countries (and the most disadvantaged in Europe – Albania, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia-Montenegro, Bosnia and Croatia) not including Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey which are already candidates, makes the need for a hard core all the more urgent. Greece will soon be faced with a serious dilemma as to whether or not it should participate in this hard core. Its fate is firmly linked with that of Europe, but its defense is threatened by Turkey which is above all influenced by the USA. So we will soon be faced with crucial, difficult decisions that will have to be made with the greatest possible forethought and weighing of national interests.