On The 'Greek Question'

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, left, speaks with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, center, and French
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, left, speaks with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, center, and French President Francois Hollande during a meeting of eurozone heads of state at the EU Council building in Brussels on Sunday, July 12, 2015. Skeptical European creditors raced Sunday to narrow differences both among themselves and with Athens, aiming to come up with a tentative agreement to stave off an immediate financial collapse in Greece that would reverberate across the continent. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

As I write these lines, the outcome of the extraordinary summit on the "Greek question" remains unknown. However, based on developments already underway, one can surely make several observations, which do not just concern Greece but more broadly the European Union and the way a crisis is being managed within the framework of a highly complex geopolitical situation with many implications. The events taking place relating to the Greek and European economy have a wider impact, and are influencing entities and communities far beyond the Old World. Observation one. As former president of the European Commission Jacques Delors emphasized in his recent article to Le Monde (co-signed by Pascal Lamy and Antonio Vitorino), the "Greek drama is not and will not just be Greek: it has and will have repercussions for the whole of Europe, of which Greece is a part by virtue of its history and geography."

Indeed. Greece is at a crossroads, between Europe, the Balkans, the Mediterranean Basin and the Middle East -- between the West and the East. It is at the junction of important geostrategic interests. It is situated in an area where the established interests of the great powers are pitted against those of rising regional powers, against the backdrop of a reemergence of blind religious fundamentalism, in the form of the Islamic State -- a serious menace to universal human rights and a threat to the principles and values of rationalism. The weakening of a country in this specific area and under these specific circumstances would constitute not just a failure, but a choice with grave strategic consequences. Consequences which would be felt over time, both on the European continent, already facing the open wound of Ukraine, and more broadly, in the soft underbelly of the southeastern Mediterranean, where intersecting energy strategies will determine the wider stakes (in the region) during the 21st century. Observation two. It is abundantly clear that the "Greek question" is not limited exclusively and solely to its economic dimension. The debt crisis, and its handling, is but one facet of a broader issue, which has to do with the need for deep structural reforms at many levels (institutional, practical, civil service, etc.) -- reforms which should have been implemented many decades ago and which, however, cannot be achieved in the span of a few months. They constitute a long-term undertaking, which requires, first and foremost, the mobilization of all forces within Greek society, with contributions (in the form of knowhow, transfer of best practices) from those partners in the Ee that have the knowledge, experience, and ability to support such a Greek endeavor. Observation three. In the final analysis, as Nobel Laureate and professor of economics Joseph Stiglitz stressed in reference to the Greek question, "it is about power and democracy much more than money and economics." The solution to the Greek debt problem is therefore not technocratic but rather a matter of political will -- which, moreover, has always been the case when the European project has faced major crises. The solution offered by European leaders, particularly during the first decades of the project, was political. As was the case with "Monnet's Method," which incorporates crisis into its approach, opting for small steps toward a common goal.

Provided of course there is solidarity in action -- a vital element which must not be overlooked. Particularly at times such as these when the future of an undertaking is being judged, which will either meet the goals of its founders -- democracy and solidarity for the prosperity of the people of Europe -- or enter on a path of decay. Because the Greek question is deeply European.

This post originally appeared on HuffPost Greece and was translated into English.

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