Accession as a regional stabilisation factor

As already mentioned[1] Greece has viewed the Geor­gia inci­dent under two spe­cif­ic bias­es. First, a rel­a­tive­ly pro-Russ­ian tilt in the country’s for­eign-pol­i­cy equi­lib­ri­um. Sec­ond, the lin­ger­ing appre­hen­sions ris­ing out of the recent attempts for NATO acces­sion of Geor­gia, of the Ukraine – and of the FYROM (with poten­tial EU acces­sion nego­ti­a­tions in the back­ground in the case of the lat­ter two coun­tries). This has caused the rel­a­tive­ly high sup­port for the ENP in Greece, viewed as an alter­na­tive process of sta­bil­i­sa­tion in the wider area with­out nec­es­sar­i­ly lead­ing to acces­sion in the fore­see­able future. The nat­ur­al gas inci­dent between Moscow and Kiev has brought fur­ther reser­va­tions to the surface.

In addi­tion, for Greece, the use of EU acces­sion as a region­al sta­bil­i­sa­tion fac­tor (with the hope that nor­mal­i­sa­tion of strained bilat­er­al rela­tions would fol­low) has been a cor­ner­stone of its for­eign pol­i­cy and of its EU pol­i­cy from the mid-nineties until quite recent­ly. Ref­er­ence was usu­al­ly made, in that con­text, to Greece-FYROM rela­tions and (far more impor­tant­ly) to Greece-Turkey rela­tions. But (a) the renewed ten­sions between Athens and Skop­je and (b) the com­bi­na­tion of a bilat­er­al dete­ri­o­ra­tion of the Athens-Ankara rela­tion­ship with the shift in Euro-Turk­ish rela­tions from a poten­tial acces­sion to an almost cer­tain ‘special/privileged rela­tion­ship’, have under­mined the hopes that the per­spec­tive of such coun­tries’ par­tic­i­pa­tion to the EU might serve as a conflict–resolution mech­a­nism in the region. Turkey’s edgy rela­tion­ship with the EU and the grow­ing uncer­tain­ty of the acces­sion per­spec­tive, as well as the Turk­ish role in an enhanced Union for the Mediter­ranean is increas­ing­ly under scruti­ny in politi­co-aca­d­e­m­ic pub­lic debates in Greece. It is argued that in Turkey a pro­ce­dure of nation­al rede­ploy­ment is cur­rent­ly in progress. Fol­low­ing the Irish ref­er­en­dum, the Euro­pean future of Turkey should be seen under a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive. If the Euro­pean insti­tu­tion­al con­struc­tion is stalling and the ‘enlarge­ment fatigue’ spreads, the acces­sion of Turkey seems to be more dis­tant. If the Lis­bon Treaty is not final­ly imple­ment­ed, the road for the inte­gra­tion of Turkey into an aggre­gate func­tion­ing sys­tem will be opened. The man­i­festo of Guy Ver­hof­s­tadt that refers to a sys­tem of homo­cen­tric cir­cles was pro­posed as an option. The sec­ond para­me­ter is the insta­bil­i­ty in the domes­tic pol­i­tics of Turkey. The attempt­ed judi­cial coup d’état shows that the Turk­ish soci­ety is not mature enough and can­not approach the low­est com­mon denom­i­na­tor of the polit­i­cal con­di­tions that pre­vail in EU mem­ber states. The sit­u­a­tion of insta­bil­i­ty and con­fu­sion in Turkey has seri­ous reper­cus­sions on Turk­ish econ­o­my which is one of high polit­i­cal risk. In the pre­vi­ous years, there were signs of con­sid­er­able recov­ery with a sub­stan­tial open­ing of the mar­ket to the West and a sig­nif­i­cant increase of employ­ment. Now, the exter­nal eco­nom­ic tur­moil has led to a sta­ble decel­er­a­tion of the Turk­ish econ­o­my. The Greek-Turk­ish rela­tions are com­pet­i­tive, espe­cial­ly in the sec­tors of tourism and ener­gy. It is stressed that the com­merce with Turkey is more impor­tant for Greece because of the size of the Turk­ish economy.[2]

 

 

 

[1] See chap­ter II of this issue of EU-27 watch.
[2] See in the Sep­tem­ber 2008 issue (No 17) of VIMA IDEON, a mag­a­zine pub­lished by the major Greek dai­ly To Vima, a dossier ded­i­cat­ed on Turkey-EU-Greece (edi­tor N. Fran­gakis; oth­er arti­cles by D. Dim­i­tri­adis, Pres­i­dent, Euro­pean Eco­nom­ic and Social Com­mit­tee, G. Gly­nos, ex offi­cer of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, D. Kat­soudas, Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al for Euro­pean Affairs, Min­istry of For­eign Affairs, A. Kot­siaros, researcher of IEIP, A. Mit­sos, ex Direc­tor Gen­er­al, Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, C. Papadopou­los, Advi­sor in Euro­pean Affairs, EFG Eurobank, Chr. Triantopou­los, researcher of IEIP and Kostas Zepos, Ambas­sador (ret.)), reflect­ing a round­table dis­cus­sion on “Turkey: bal­anc­ing between the Euro­pean per­spec­tive and inter­nal insta­bil­i­ty” organ­ised by EKEME, in coop­er­a­tion with IEIP of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Athens, 1 July 2008). In the Novem­ber 2008 issue (No 19) of VIMA IDEON, an addi­tion­al dossier with arti­cles deal­ing with the Union for the Mediter­ranean and Turkey by N. Fran­gakis, A.A. Fatouros, P. Kaza­kos and D. Chryso­choou & D. Xenakis was pub­lished ; I. Grigo­ri­adis, “Tri­als of Euro­peani­sa­tion: Turk­ish Polit­i­cal Cul­ture and the Euro­pean Union”, Pal­grave Macmil­lan, Bas­ingstoke, 2008.