OPINION

Greek weakness and the EU

The government is being heavily criticized over foreign policy issues, whether for unconditionally supporting Turkey’s ambitions regarding EU integration or because,13 years after its foundation, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) has been recognized officially by the US as the «Republic of Macedonia.» At the same time, a group of self-styled reformists have blamed Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis for not embracing – as his predecessor Costas Simitis and some of New Democracy’s own liberals had – and not convincing Nicosia to accept United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s peace plan, which was rejected by 76 percent of Greek Cypriots. Foreign policy appears to be viewed as a parade ground with no relation to the country’s military power, its economic condition or the perception by the powers that be of its regional and international role. During the premiership of Costas Simitis, the illusion was created of an economically strong Greece which belonged to Europe’s hard core. As it has since emerged, there is now a risk of the European Union questioning the basis on which Greece joined the Economic and Monetary Union. In fact, Greece, as far as its defense and economy goes, has become an ersatz country and therefore lacks the means to exercise an effective foreign policy. Practical considerations aside, there is a lack of morale and vision. After the fall of the dictatorship, the national goal became Greece’s incorporation into the European Union, but full integration presupposes the deconstruction of the nation-state, at least in the mind of the Greek political establishment. This is happening gradually in all European Union countries, but they do not have to deal with behavior like that of neighbors such as Turkey or other Balkan states. Greece’s EU partners, unwilling to consider the problem Ankara is creating in regional stability, insist on the need for «realistic adjustments.» The shortfall in foreign policy in recent years is not greater than that in other sectors of government. It is simply more painful when it becomes apparent, as the repercussions are not reversible. At best, seeking support from the EU will merely result in consoling rhetoric. Greece must defend its own national interests and this presupposes a reassessment of its economy and defense. Simply put, a country’s foreign policy is not a metaphysical activity, but a reflection of its strength and standing in the international community.