Vigilant moderation

Discussions among European Union members and EU negotiations with Ankara have not yet come to a final conclusion about the substance and form of the Agreement Text concerning Turkey’s accession negotiations. The situation is, as described by a Greek Foreign Ministry source, «extremely fluid,» and nobody can foresee how the sensitive issues that still remain unresolved will be decided. Within this fluidity, however, there is a detectable sense among the EU 25 of pressure on Turkey, which is facing reservations the European powers have not been accustomed to expressing toward hopeful applicants in recent years. The EU is apparently not prepared to compromise its values and basic rules in order to satisfy one particular applicant country. Even the US, which is ever more urgently asking the EU to open its doors to Turkey, is advising the latter’s government to recognize Cyprus, which Ankara is refusing, against all reason, to do. In those circumstances, with the majority of our partners apparently unprepared to be satisfied with vague responses and equivocation from the Turkish side, Greece is fortunately freed from the need to take a hostile stance that would make the other EU member states more cautious. As these other states express their concerns on points which also worry Greeks, Athens will be able to follow the discussions as one of a group of 25, rather than as a solitary voice that differs on views or in intensity. While the current atmosphere allows us that opportunity, we must not go to the other extreme, and subscribe to the notion that «the Europeans are taking care of it» and that we can therefore allow ourselves to relax. Athens can afford some calm and moderation, and this is how it should contribute, as an EU partner, to the overall discussion and formulation of the final text. Even so, it must continue to contribute. Moderation is not the same as passivity. Greek positions and points to which we attach crucial importance must be raised and, if necessary, included in the text. Circumstances favor meaningful interventions within the framework of the shared European line, but they do not allow for silence. The foreign affairs minister’s various visits and the prime minister’s telephone calls indicate that the government has realized this. And that line must hold, with the support of the country’s other political forces.