The transparent warning of Costas Simitis

Posted by Antonis D. Papagiannidis 02/09/2019 0 Comment(s) Economia Blog,

Former Prime Minister Costas Simitis has been quite present in recent months, contributing articles on burning issues of the day: Greek-Turkish relations, the economy and relations with the EU. This time around he offered the present Government an also-too useful piece of political support - but only along with quite transparent warning - verging to the ominous - about things to come.


Simitis went back to the Prespes Treaty that ended the dispute between Greece and (belatedly renamed) North Macedonia but at a cost of deep divisions in Greece and the country’s political system, not to touch on bitter feelings among Greeks ourselves. And he talked - some would say: he pontificated - of the lack of a measure of consensus that would have made possible a wider acceptance of the solution given (a thinly veiled reference to the tactics of the then-Government) but also to a smoother co-operation of the two neighbors.


Still, the essence of the Simitis article - at wide-circulation paper TA NEA - was a call “for no more one-sided Prespes”, as he put it, on crucial issues. Ever the European, Simitis pointed that the overall environment within which Greece will have to face such crucial issues “does not favour positive or - even - clear responses on part of the country’s partners”.


One first range of such issues has to do with renegotiating or otherwise reformulating the post-Programme relations of Greece with its European creditors.But the most dangerous issue looming ahead is the one of relations with Turkey. As already pointed, Simitis has already taken the risk of issuing a call for careful steps in Greek-Turkish relations as well as for balanced future solutions in contrast to one-sided expectations. Now he calls for “a climate of exchange of opinions (within Greece) and of effort to reach wider consensus over needed policies”.


Simitis pointed a finger to the position of the Opposition - not specifically naming SYRIZA, but the subtext is quite clear - that should not be of pure negativism. If one looks closer at specifics, one sees that ALexis Tsipras of SYRIZA has promised his party would support “all serious efforts” of the current Government to establish a new economic situation based on lower primary surpluses in agreement with European creditors.


So this leaves Greek-Turkish relations and the perspective of an overall negotiation to be opened. This is really the most dangerous front looming over the political system of Greece in the foreseeable future. The transparent warning of the Simitis call should be heeded.

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