It would seem that too many fronts open simultaneously for Greece; its government; its people.
The first such front was the one that one would hope has resulted from the deal struck at last over the festering Macedonian issue. But the very feeling that the agreement reached between Skopje and Athens would gain its own dynamic is fast fading into controversy both sides of the border. Last week’s festivities are a faint memory while the tough work of pushing the agreement to its desired end is causing second thoughts. To name just one: the hopes of newly-named Republic of North Macedonia to even start the slog towards EU accession is proving no easy matter. At the same time, the debate in Greece over the issue turns nasty faster than expected.
The second front is the set of decisions finalized – well, not exactly – at last week’s Eurogroup over the completion of the latest/final review of Greece’s (third) Adjustment Programme, the debt relief offered by the country’s European creditors and the post-Programme surveillance planned for years to come. Here, too, the road ahead is clearly not strewn with rose-petals.
The third front could easily prove even more dangerous: the refugee/migration issue that has haunted MittelEuropa (where the wave of those running away from war, persecution or abject poverty dream to settle) and has put under heavy pressure the EU countries of the Mediterranean (Greece, Italy and now Spain) comes back with a vengeance. Even well-stabilised political systems as the German one are buckling under the stress; the Visegrad countries deny their EU duties; Austria gets tougher; the Netherlands too. And – easily to predict – the stress is passed once more to the countries of first arrival, that is Southwards.
Add to this too-rich menu the destabilizing influence of Turkey, where yesterday’s elections brought – amid complaints of fraud – Reccep Tayyip Erdogan once more to the fulcrum of power, uncontested for all practical purposes. Ankara’s aggressive tactics in an already-stressed Eastern Mediterranean threaten new rounds of unrest.
And do not let out of the equation the deal that is expected to be reached on another bilateral issue with regional repercussions: the one between Greece and Albania. Months-long negotiations seem to get to something close to agreement over matters ranging from the two countries’ Exclusive Economic Zones to defusing old resentments and enmities. Here, too, the sail ahead looks set to be over stormy waters.