Dissent over Turkey’s role in the EU’s rapid deployment force has placed Greece in an extremely difficult diplomatic and political position. During the Laeken summit, our country found itself alone against the other EU partners in rejecting a plan worked out by the USA, Britain and Turkey that was at odds with our national interests. Only Prime Minister Costas Simitis’s refusal to succumb to intense pressures prevented, at least for the time being, the immediate acceptance of the unfavorable document. The fact that the problem was bequeathed to the next EU presidency may give the government some time to relax, but by no means does it constitute an improvement of Greece’s bargaining position. Postponing their resolution usually only makes problems worse. In the case of the Euro force, the government failed to react in time, about a year ago, when the Turkish parameter began to surface in a way that clearly undermined Greek interests. The decision to conceal the emerging problem and instead to deal with it in secret, excluding many experienced diplomats, isolated our country and brought it up against its EU partners. A wiser policy would have been doing everything to prevent even the mere release of such a document, so as to eliminate the possibility of it being used as a basis for negotiations – let alone it being accepted by the other partners. Unfortunately, Foreign Minister George Papandreou continues in his tactic of excluding diplomats from the handling of such crucial issues, underestimating their experience and skills. He prefers, rather, that these issues be dealt with by a small group of aides who have proved to experiment in a manner that clearly damages Greece’s international position. The fact that the expansionist objectives of Turkey (which is neither an EU member nor is it expected to become one in the next 10 or 15 years) have isolated Greece from its EU partners is a clear sign of blatant diplomatic and political inefficiency. The entrapment of the government in self-inflicted dilemmas such as heroic resistance against everyone or humiliating withdrawal that will harm our national interests, shows a lack of political farsightedness. Even at the last minute, the government has to strive for a positive solution, tough as this has now become due to its awkward handling.

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