Greek Business File, June-July-August 2019, No 121
As Business File approaches the conclusion of its 30th year next December, it is the European Union which has always been one of our major points of interest, but is now becoming fast unrecognizable. The recent European elections brought to the surface a peculiar crop of results across several countries, these at times fraught with risk.
The bizarre situation in the UK regarding Brexit elected to the European Parliament a large number of Brexit Party MEPs, whose only purpose is to ensure their country leaves the EU. Meanwhile, the Tories have slumped to fifth place in popular support. In Germany, the Socialists of the SPD have been relegated to the third position, leaving their traditional second place to the surging Greens (who have been quite successful EU-wide); meanwhile the Eurosceptic ultraconservative AfD keeps advancing. In France, aggressively Eurosceptic nationalist Marine Le Pen has overtaken Emmanuel Macron, who until some months ago, prior to his ongoing row with the Yellow Vests, was seen as the great white hope of Europe. While in Italy, the Europhobic, anti-immigration Lega of Matteo Salvini - in cahoots with Hungary’s Victor Orban- won an easy first place at the polls.
In this context, Greece lives through its own upheaval that looks set to somehow take things back in time. The present selftamed, formerly radical Socialist Government has paid the political price for the Prespes Agreement by which Greece has broken the Gordian knot of its relations with its neighbor, North Macedonia: much acclaimed in Europe and beyond, this has caused a backlash of national sensitivities.
Also proving to be politically costly is the weak growth of the Greek economy, notwithstanding its hesitant reboot starting last year and eff orts at bringing fi scal relaxation after some ten years of austerity. Further problem areas keep coming to the fore, especially in relations with neighboring Turkey and its revisionist/expansionist stance in the eastern Mediterranean.
All such issues, Greek and European alike, raise a new question that George Prevelakis discusses in his recent book “Who are we?”, (published by our Economia Publishing Group) a work that explores the building blocks of the harsh Greek experience in the long trek through history.
However rough the next patch of road proves, Greece will keep trying to open new paths: the county’s ever-closer relations with China are most signifi cant. The same goes for its efforts in building alliances in the ever-tumultuous Eastern Mediterranean, with strategic partners like Israel or Egypt alongside the U.S.
Finally, the next immediate challenge for Greece are the forthcoming general elections, where it remains to be seen whether Nea Dimokratia will maintain the important lead it has obtained in the European election bringing about a Government change. And whether the political constellation that will emerge in the new Parliament will be able to capitalize on the stability reached at great cost. This point, that is, the point where expectations meet with reality constitutes the nexus of politics.
Alexandra C. Vovolini