OPINION

Commentary

Greece’s foreign policy did not change course during 2001, as it continued to place emphasis on Prime Minister Costas Simitis’s central strategic policy, which is the country’s participation in the core of the European Union. In order to serve this policy, he sided with basic Western policies even when he actually disagreed with them, as happened in the Kosovo crisis three years ago. Athens has decided in favor of a European federation, although there has been no public debate in Greece as opposed to in the majority of EU-member countries. This is because, for Simitis, the fundamental criterion is not that a federation serve our national interests, but, rather, that our country not be excluded from the discussions that will shape the core of the EU. Greece’s EMU entry justified this policy but problems in other crucial sectors remain. In Greek-Turkish relations, Foreign Minister George Papandreou has placed his bet on Turkey’s entrapment in the accession process. He judges that the post-Kemalist regime will be forced to adapt its political behavior to European standards in order to sustain the prospect of EU accession. Greece would like to see the actualization of this prospect, as it has been subjected to the consequences of Turkey’s lingering expansionism. However, the fact that this strategy is worth testing does not mean that it will yield the desired outcome. And even if Turkey eventually follows the path of Europeanization, the transitional period will be full of political trials and perils to our national interests. The fact that Ankara is, on the one hand, being provocative while it is simultaneously dancing to the tune of EU accession is no paradox. Turkey’s objective is to sway Greece into a comprehensive negotiation on the status of the Aegean Sea. And it will use all means to achieve this goal. The fluctuation between niceties and crude threats is Turkey’s standard policy. Ankara’s stance on the Cyprus issue most recently is indicative of this. In the Balkans, Simitis’s government has tried, and, to a considerable degree, has succeeded, in advancing Greece into a prominent mediator which provides its neighbors with the incentives of EU prospects, NATO, economic aid, and investments. This policy is overshadowed by a policy of according certain issues less importance, though they directly affect our national interests, on the grounds that they should not undermine our bilateral relations. This does not only concern the lingering name dispute with Skopje but also Athens’s spineless reaction to the blatant violations of Greek minority rights in Albania.