As the end of 2018 gets nearer, the Greek Government has to gauge the overall tensions that surround the country, its foreign policy, its economy - so as to trace a way forward.
One first element that should not be missed is that Greece – “the Greek problem” – seems to have receded from the emergency list of EU leaders. Consecutive Eurogroup meetings and EU Summits have had no Greece on their agenda – “and this all for the better” as Eurogroup President Mario Senteno recently put it.
Until some days ago, the same seemed to be the case insofar the country’s role in its immediate neighbourhood – S.E. Europe – was concerned. The role that Athens assumed under the Prespes Agreement to bring FYRoM to the western fold gave the current Greek Government something close to moral authority in the eyes of Washington, Brussels or Berlin. Along with Skopje’s “valiant PM Zaev”, that is. Still, recent backtracking through irredentist slippage of the tongue on the part of Zoran Zaev have raised concerns anew: if and when the Prespes Agreement reaches Athens and the Greek Parliament, what is the mood that will prevail?
Further afield, the climate in relations with neighbouring Turkey – with the Cyprus issue just around the corner; with hydrocarbon exploration ventures in the Eastern Mediterranean spreading fast – is fraught with new layers of risk. Here, the question that is being asked, sotto voce, in Athens is: “Is it better to be in the focus of international attention? Or rather to linger at the sidelines?”
For better or for worse, this question looks set to be answered in the very next year.