OPINION

Overweening claims

Following a dramatic confrontation at the domestic level and Prime Minister Costas Simitis’s inarticulate cries in various EU capitals and to Washington, a solution seems to be under way over the issue of Europe’s rapid reaction force… At communication level, Costas Simitis may brag that he succeeded in altering the content of the Ankara document, while the Americans will claim that the text remained intact, save for one little addendum… In essence, neither does the much-touted Euroforce present any considerable military threat, nor were Turkey’s fears that the army might be used against it grounded. Hence, the guarantees that Greece is trying to extract are of little importance, for none of the existing or future international agreements can act as a safeguard against a Greek-Turkish conflict. The entire Euroforce dispute was an overweening exercise by Ankara and Athens, with Turkey claiming the right to a veto – which it failed to secure – and Athens fighting for the autonomy of a European defense which EU member states are, anyway, unwilling to fund, as their average military spending is between 1 and 1.5 percent of GDP vis-a-vis the USA’s 3 to 3.5 percent. Ankara’s handling of the issue and the tragic mistakes of the Greek administration… annoyed the USA, which intervened in order to provide a solution to the deadlock, even though, at a practical level, the credit for the initiative will be granted to the Spanish presidency so as to bolster the EU’s image…