Time for a change of policy?

Athens once believed that the prospect of European Union accession would act as a catalyst for Turkey to change its stance toward Greece and defuse tension between the two countries. This never happened and current «national policy» is little more than the propagation of that delusion. Next Monday, the Council of Foreign Ministers will be meeting in Brussels to discuss EU enlargement and Turkey’s prospects. Greece and Cyprus have lodged numerous complaints concerning the terms being presented to Turkey, but our European peers appear to have no intention of souring relations with Ankara. It is obvious that Greece needs to review its strategy, as it was adopted under different circumstances and served different interests. One thing it can do is fall in line with countries such as Germany and France which want a «special relationship» for Ankara and the EU in the areas of policy and security. Irrespective of Greece’s stance, that is where things are headed anyway, and if Greece insists on its position it will simply be left out of negotiations and lose significant bargaining power. Of course Ankara must participate in the process, so that this special relationship with the EU is not perceived as a barring of the Muslim nation from the European system. A change of stance on the issue of Turkey’s European vocation may be especially difficult for Premier George Papandreou, since he was the one to promote it as foreign minister. For the new main opposition leader, however, the issue is not a particular problem, since Antonis Samaras was not involved in foreign policy in the governments of Costas Karamanlis. Furthermore, two of the most powerful conservative leaders of Europe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, advocate the special relationship path. A change in stance by New Democracy would thus bring Samaras closer to those two countries, a prospect that could be very useful and desirable.

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