Hopes for the New Year: get real!
Many hopes have been heaped on the New Year, 2018 – the year of a “clean exit” for the Greek economy from its successive Adjustment Programmes; the year of a possible solution to the decades-long “name issue” with neighbouring Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia which has preluded FYRoM’s accession to NATO or the EU; the year of a hoped-for stabilization of relations with ominously threatening Turkey; the year some serious search for oil and natural gas is to start in Greece.
Well, hope is a necessary element for the lives of us humans. Both of individuals and of communities. Still, one has to keep a cool head in all of these fronts. To start from the “clean exit” front: true enough, the global capital markets look positive for some sort of unassisted way forward for Greece – which seems to be its current Government’s preference. But words of caution have been piling up for a precautionary mechanism to be put in place: following Mario Draghi and (Bank of Greece) Yannis Stournaras, three political worthies of years past have issued calls of caution – Ev. Venizelos, Al. Papadopoulos, N. Christodoulakis, each in his own way, militate for some kind of precautionary mechanism to chaperon Greece. Since this would entail oversight from “Europe”, either Brussels /the E.C. or Frankfurt/the ESM to morph to a “European Monetary Fund”, a vigorously negative reaction on part of the Greek Government is to be expected.
Now for the optimist expectation over the FYRoM issue: positive signs are being doled out from the Skopje governing coalition, with Athens trying to respond. Still, internal and intra-party frictions in Greece make the way forward a difficult endeavor. As for relations with Turkey, here tensions have been mounting instead or receding. The issue of Turkish officers, fugitive from Turkey following the aborted July 2016 coup, who have asked for political asylum in Greece adds venom to an already-tense situation.
In such a context, planned oil-and-gas exploration in the region instead of bringing forward promise for riches and resulting détente, may well result in further tensions build-up.