A pretext for revisionism

Over the weekend, Prime Minister Costas Simitis attended discussions in Rome on Europe’s nascent constitution – a more pleasant pastime than dealing with grim domestic realities in Athens. It would be unfair to downgrade the European Union’s attempt to flex its political muscle, although the absence of strong European political leadership leaves little hope for success. Nor should we blame the prime minister for participating in the European integration process, whatever that is. Simitis’s mistake is that he uses the EU and its embryonic political system to handcuff Greece’s foreign policy and to revise its basic premises. Greece has purportedly enhanced its regional standing by joining the eurozone. But if this is so, then why is Turkey bragging about the abolition of the old civil aviation routes over the Aegean? Why is Athens making no effort to change the unacceptable parts of the Annan plan on Cyprus, and why has it not reacted to attempts to label the Muslim minority in Thrace as «Turkish»? The Imia crisis and the fiasco of former Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan’s capture did not prompt a revision of Greece’s policy toward Turkey, as they should have, but instead led to concessions to Turkish demands that foreshadow greater instability. The mantra of the Simitis government – that Greece is strong enough to overhaul its basic foreign policy principles – is a fallacy. Greece is a weak state, while corruption, entangled interests, and economic mismanagement, which have sparked a massive wave of strikes, are all characteristic of an underdeveloped country. Greece’s posture is not a sign of strength, but of weakness, while EU cooperation is a pretext for promoting revisionist policies. If disaster has been averted so far, that is due to the crisis in Ankara caused by the clash between the Islamic-leaning government and the deep state.