By Vassilis Kopsahilis
In trying to solve the Greek Question, Greece’s new government may succeed in re-booting the role of the EU in the world.
Almost a week has elapsed since the leftist SYRIZA and rightwing Independent Hellenes parties formed a coalition government in Greece. However, their message has already blazed across Europe. Their vision is not restricted to changing Greece’s outlook; it goes far beyond that. Greece’s outlook is associated with the destiny of the European Union (EU) and their goal is to re-boot both, since they believe that the EU is going in the wrong direction.
Yesterday we had the first bold sign of this new aim. The reasoning behind the decision of the Greek government to oppose any new sanctions against Russia is based on real politic. As long as Russia is a close trading partner of the EU and, additionally, a strong geopolitical neighbour, it is not in the interest of the EU to take further sanctions against Russia, simply because sanctions both damage EU economic and trade interests and prevent both sides from negotiating a feasible solution to the Ukrainian Question. Austria, Slovenia and Finland sided with Greece in this new approach and, at the end of the EU emergency meeting, the foreign policy commissioner Federica Mogherini almost happily announced the final decision that no further sanctions would be imposed on Russia. This did not come about as a result of Greece’s stubborn approach; in fact, it was a realistic collective European resolution aimed at securing the EU’s vital interests.
The coming weeks are expected to be even more resonant with the apocalyptic new wind stirring in Europe. The Greek Finance minister will have a series of meetings with other Finance ministers in the EU. His message is simple. Current economic policy based on austerity is ineffective; in fact, it is a factor in the further undermining of the Greek and European economies. Therefore, the sensible thing to do would be to change its course and provide a feasible alternative plan of economic relief, without impacting on European taxpayers. On the contrary, the European Central Bank should play its role in the new economic relief plan. If the institutional basis of the ECB does not allow this to be undertaken, then it would be far better to change the institutional framework of the ECB rather than force taxpayers to pay South European debts.
Several EU governments are lined up behind the Greek Finance minister and expect a feasible roadmap from Greece on which to base their own expectations for economic relief as well. Even Mark Carney, the Bank of England Governor, said earlier this week that austerity is no longer a feasible tool for the resolution of Europe’s economic problems and that, if Eurozone countries continue with austerity measures, this will lead to what may be termed a “lost decade for Europe”.
The newly-elected Greek government, accompanied by other European governments, aspires to make the EU a truly global player in international affairs. They seek to overcome austerity and economic problems within the EU in order that the EU should have a strong say in global affairs. The message is directed to Washington, Moscow and Beijing. It is no longer Greece, Germany or any other EU member standing alone before world superpowers; it is the EU, as a whole, ready to negotiate in good faith with other superpowers, which is the future for our world. Possibly, in trying to solve the Greek Question, Greece’s new government may succeed in re-booting the role of the EU as a whole in the world.
Vassilis Kopsahilis is an international relations expert, regular media contributor and author of “The Geoentrepreneurs’ Empire“.