OPINION

A part of Europe

One year after the expansion of the European Union, the course of European unification remains a difficult one. Despite the political and economic barriers to unification, Europe has already left a strong mark on its citizens, with one in three young adults feeling more European than, say, German or Italian. Recent research reveals the existence of a separate European identity. It also shows that steps toward economic union and political convergence have contributed toward the creation of new political outlooks. This is not surprising when considering how impressed Greek citizens have been by the fact that they can travel within the eurozone using the same currency throughout and without the need for visas and such. All evidence shows that despite the difficulties, Europe is not merely shaping a new institutional framework but also creating a new reality of values where democracy, freedom and the existence of a social state form the core of common European beliefs. In many member states of the EU, including Greece, common values are accompanied by political realism. This shows that if European member states share something special they can only realize it by working together in an international environment dominated by the supremacy of the United States of America and the Asian giants. We are witnessing the birth of something new in Europe despite all the current problems and disputes. And our country, where the overwhelming majority of citizens are pro-European, must play a part in this. In the past, Greece missed various phases of European development – at the end of the 1960s due to the military dictatorship and at the beginning of the 1980s due to the anti-European rhetoric of the PASOK government that was then in power. Today, there is a similar risk posed not by political circumstances but by a concentration on domestic affairs which has forced the public to regard the EU as something foreign and not as a melting pot to which Greece should be contributing. Greece – both its government and people – should be conscious of the fact that we are playing a part in the creation of a European reality. It is the major challenge and dream for all European nations: the rebirth of a region which emerged from the ruins of conflict to approach a union of peace and creativity.