Important December date

The next European Union summit is not far off. On December 17, the EU partners will decide, some joyfully, others regretfully, the date for the start of accession talks between Ankara and Brussels. In view of this fact, it is expected that Greece will vote in favor, since its political leaders have in the past few years taken the view that a «European» Turkey would be a tamer neighbor, an interlocutor for Greece. However, one must now ask whether the country’s political leaders in fact believe that the dynamics of the accession process could or should result in solutions to what are pending issues between Greece and Turkey. If Athens does in fact believe this, then it should: a) rapidly formulate a policy aimed at resolving Greek-Turkish problems before Turkey joins the EU and, b) realize that on December 17, it will have to make clear, both to its partners and to Turkey, the demands that it believes should constitute elements of Turkey’s accession process. It would be hazardous for Greece’s leaders to believe that Athens could sail through December 17 without presenting clear political positions at the summit. Managing Greek-Turkish affairs after December, without first determining specific goals, will be far more difficult. Proposals now being made for a generalized, low-key presentation of Greece’s position at the summit regarding pending issues with Turkey, could, if accepted, lead to problems for Greece’s foreign policy. What some diplomats are essentially proposing is to sweep what is this government’s most serious foreign policy problem under the rug.