High-level politics


Rarely has a government had to simultaneously negotiate on the most crucial issues of the country for which it is responsible over just two days, yet this is exactly what is happening right now.

The Eurogroup is convening in Luxembourg on Thursday and if German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble deems that he has used the Greek issue to serve his pre-election agenda sufficiently, then he may give the green light for a positive conclusion to the bailout review. Should this happen, it will lead to all the beneficial things the Greek government is looking forward to.

In Athens on Wednesday, the Greek foreign minister and his counterpart from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) discussed ways to improve bilateral relations, which for some of Greece’s partners – and Germany in particular – means the Balkan country’s induction into NATO under its “provisional name.” This is nothing but an effort to revise the decision of the 2008 NATO summit in Bucharest, when – and despite the pressure brought against then prime minister Costas Karamanlis – membership of the alliance was linked inextricably to a solution in the name dispute.

The pressure that is being exerted now to tie up this “loose end” is aimed at bringing some stability to the western Balkans and to Skopje, insofar as NATO can guarantee domestic stability in any country. However, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias ruled out a change of stance on the name issue from Athens.

The most televised event on Thursday, of course, will be the meeting between Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu and Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, where the three leaders will discuss energy cooperation in light of planned natural gas research in the area. Turkey will not be at the meeting, but its reaction when surveys begin in Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone in mid-July is a certainty.

This is not the first time that a major political initiative is being viewed as a likely catalyst for a solution to the division of Cyprus. It was during talks for Cyprus’s accession to the European Union that the Annan Plan was hatched – it was later rejected by the Greek Cypriots in 2004 and the Republic of Cyprus was admitted into the EU.

Now, the discovery of an undetermined quantity of natural gas is being used to push for a solution – in combination with pressure from the European Commission for Nicosia to overcome objections so that European-Turkish dialogue can restart.

All of this is what some of our partners would define as politics on the highest level.