A ‘terrible’ premier

The grievance, expressed by Prime Minister Costas Simitis in Washington late on Wednesday, when he wondered, «How is it that when I am outside our borders I’m OK and when I’m within them I’m terrible?» proved that he is way off base – simply because he is «terrible» on the whole. The difference between domestic activities and those abroad – a difference that Simitis seems to disregard – is that as Greece’s prime minister, and in keeping with his European Union counterparts, he is suffering the repercussions of an economic policy that instead of fostering higher growth is leading to higher unemployment and reeling from the consequences of a poor administration mired in corruption. On the other hand, when European leaders are away from home, they are free to prattle over market and labor liberalization, to announce policies the likes of which for years have failed to raise incomes and still feel pleased as they stand shoulder-to-shoulder with sympathetic peers. Misery loves company, as the English saying goes. If Simitis was referring to the EU’s foreign policy, then one wonders once again what the supposed success is all about. The rapprochement between the EU and the US came about because the crisis in Europe’s relations with the Bush administration threw France and Germany, the main critics of Washington’s war on Iraq, into a state of panic and they subsequently sought ways to bridge the gap in transatlantic relations. Finally, Simitis should keep in mind that Greece’s full incorporation into the EU has made the idea of traditional borders redundant. If he feels terrible within the borders, then he is unfit to claim success outside them either.

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