Greek Initiative for an agenda 2014 for enlargement

A.D. Papagiannidis and Nikos Frangakis
Insofar as enlargement is concerned, the focus of attention in Greece lies in the efforts/expectations to bring around positive results for the Western Balkans by 2014 (“Agenda 2014”). This goal corresponds to intensive Greek efforts undertaken earlier on, which Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou (who is also Foreign Minister) publicly reiterated, i.a., in Athens in the course of a presentation at The Economist/Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) conference of 29 April 2010. Still, Serb Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic, in this very same context, was clearly quite hesitant to hope for such a time-frame (while he stressed the pre-eminent importance of making the Serb economy and political context EU-compliant, rather than fight for accession). In May 2010, the Greek initiative for an “Agenda 2014” for the Western Balkans was mirrored by regional EU member states Bulgaria and Romania, at a meeting on the level of foreign ministers.
Within the same context of the Western Balkans, Greece hopes that the promise of EU accession would serve as a major political attraction so as to render Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) positions more adapted to Greek expectations in the never-ending name-cum-nationalism dispute of the two sides. In this matter, no positive evolution is to be noted.
This Greek “globalising” approach to the Western Balkans does not exclude Croat accession, which certainly looks more mature; earlier thoughts (surely not officially voiced) to block Croatia’s accession, in order to enhance the chances of Serb participation in the enlargement process, should be considered unfounded, since the relative political stature of Greece in the EU has visibly shrunk.
The perspectives of Turkish EU accession are still central to Greek foreign policy. In a three-day visit of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Athens (along with vice-Prime Minister Ali Babacan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and several other ministers) in May 2010, the leitmotiv of Greece’s continuing support of Turkish accession was vividly present with the barely concealed hope that “the way from Ankara to Brussels” goes through Athens. This supposedly entails a bridging of the disputes over the Aegean, the minorities issue in Thrace and the Cyprus issue to a mutually acceptable solution. Still, whatever “low politics” matters were positively discussed in Athens, matters of “high politics” remained stubbornly blocked. Moreover, in his more extensive presentation of future Turkish priorities, Babacan clearly, though not aggressively, explained Turkey’s centre of gravity shift eastwards. Thus, using EU-Turkish relations as a lever for Greek-Turkish (or sub-regional) equilibria to be restored looks less and less like a valid proposition.[1]
The main opposition party, centre-right New Democracy (ND), is currently shifting towards far more reluctant positions regarding the perspectives of Turkish accession. The far-right Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) is virulently opposed to the idea of “Turkey in Europe”, mainly based on purported cultural differences.[2]

At the same time Greece keeps a low profile concerning the Union for the Mediterranean, notwithstanding the fact that this initiative is of French origin (and Greece tries to keep close to French moves) and that Athens was quite enthusiastic two years ago when the project was ceremoniously launched.[3]

[1] Kostas Zepos: The Questionable Outcome of Turkey’s Road towards the European Union [in Greek], in: International and European Politics (Vol.17), p. 71.

[2] For an overview of the opinions towards the Turkey’s EU accession, see K. Zepos: The doubtful end of Turkey’s road to the EU [in Greek], in: Vyron Theodoropoulos: The diplomat and the teacher, Papazissis/MFA [in Greek], Athens 2010, p. 39.

[3] See N. Frangakis: Turkey and the Union for the Mediterranean, in: N. Frangakis (ed.): Turkey, Europe, Mediterranean [in Greek], EKEME/Ant. N. Sakkoulas Publ. 2009, pp. 89-115; A.A. Fatouros: The Union for the Mediterranean: A new presence in our neighbourhood; P. Kasakos: The Mediterranean Union – vision, practical measures, limits; D.K. Xenakis/D.N. Chrysochoou: The Mediterranean in transition; A. Korakas: Agriculture and agricultural inlands in the Mediterranean [in Greek], in: N. Frangakis (ed.): Turkey, Europe, Mediterranean [in Greek], EKEME/Ant. N. Sakkoulas Publ. 2009, pp. 89-115.