Flexibility for flexibility’s sake

The first 100 days of the new PASOK administration have seen a great deal of activity, but also chaos. George Papandreou wanted a clear break from the inactivity that characterized New Democracy’s spell in power. Papandreou was particularly active as foreign minister under Socialist Premier Costas Simitis and actually got rather good marks. The so-called earthquake diplomacy improved Greek-Turkish ties damaged by the fiasco involving Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan. Papandreou launched a dialogue with Turkey and, with the exception of his recognition of border disputes with the neighboring country at the Helsinki summit, he made no concessions. International relations, of course, is a field in which negotiations are held between sovereign states and not always with the aim of settling outstanding issues. But it’s not the same with domestic issues, especially when the government must adapt its economic policy to the demands of the European Commission following the poor handling of Greece’s finances over the past 30 years. It’s hard to see why instead of reaching consensus on economic policy and the need to rehabilitate public finances, the government instead busies itself with political ontology. Similarly, given Greece’s chronic public administration problems, it’s hard to see why the minister in charge is occupying himself with a new election law and Germany’s parliamentary system as if this were an emergency, distracting deputies from the daily agenda. It hard to see why the government is seeking a quick settlement of the migration issue without a broad and substantial dialogue just in order to increase voter numbers ahead of municipal elections and without having first taken the necessary measures to prevent the unchecked influx of illegal migrants into Greece. Flexibility is necessary in politics but too much of it is a sign of immaturity. Novelty is no panacea. Prudence and conventionalism are often better advisers.

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