Of Greece and international relations

Posted by Antonis D. Papagiannidis 15/10/2018 3 Comment(s) Economia Blog,

Once more, Greece comes to be dependent on shifts and turns in relations of other parties that concern its own fortunes. Be they from near – or from further afield.


Just to take the closest example: Greek feisty Defense Minister Panos Kammenos caused quite a commotion by visiting his U.S. counterpart Jim Mattis and (a) declaring on his own that a Plan B might be available , were Greece’s neighbor the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia prove unable to adopt such constitutional amendments as needed to make it welcome to join NATO (and, later on, the EU), (b) proposing that a new set of U.S. military bases and/or facilities would be welcome on Greek territory, just as US-Turkey relations are turning sour.


Well, just today the first vote – in a string of three – needed for FYROM to make progress on the amendment trail is taking place; so, no real need to hurry for a Plan B. Moreover, were that vote (a 2/3 majority is needed) to prove unsuccessful, the real Plan B for the Skopje Government is known to be snap elections. So the Kammenos proposal – to go instead for a set of bilateral defense agreements between Greece, Bulgaria, Albania, FYRoM (and possibly at some time, Serbia) that would supplant NATO at a regional/sub-regional level looks little more than shadow-acting.


Almost exactly at the same time, one thorn in US-Turkey relations – Ankara’s holding American Evangelical parson Andrew Brunson in captivity for over two years, for supposedly subversive activities in Turkey – has even taken out. President Trump, who introduced increasingly aggressive measures against Turkey these last weeks, was quite pleased to welcome Brunson home! Might a warm-up in frozen US-Turkey relations start now – with far more important aspects, such as Ankara getting hold of F-35 stealth fighters just around the corner? What would that leave of the newly-enthusiastic Greek-US strategic closeness?


Looking further West and North, Greece is keeping closely track of the intra-EU fight that has started with Italy and the Italian budget at its centre: just as was the case with Greece some years ago (but then, Italy is the third largest economy of the EU…), Italy is in breach of Brussels fiscal austerity rules. Could this kind of fight help Athens in its efforts to loosen the ropes that hold the Greek economy under strict surveillance? or will Greece’s European partners prove even less amenable to any such effort so as not to give the wrong signal to Rome?


One last field of concern: regional/Land elections in Bavaria have brought new uncertainty to the fore, regarding the stability of the ruling coalition in Germany at a Federal level. How far could this influence Berlin’s stance over the surveillance of the Greek economy?


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