The cost of Europe’s unity
OP-ED | ILANA BET-EL
The debt crisis in the euro zone, and the Greek calamity within it, is basically a political crisis with economic consequences – not the other way around. For the European Union is above all a political project, initially for peace (immediately post World War II), then for security (during the Cold War), and finally for prosperity (post-Cold War). All its core decisions have been made for political reasons, notably every single move for enlargement since the original six countries founded what became the EU in 1957.
This is especially true for Greece, which became a member in 1981, just seven years after the fall of the military dictatorship that had ruled it since 1967 and after decades of turmoil. This was a state with little modern experience of political stability or economic management. However, it was the height of the Cold War, and it was clear that Greece, a NATO member since 1952, had to be kept warm within the Western fold. To this end, political and economic reform were rushed through, and membership was bestowed, most probably before Greece was ready.
This reality was accepted by leaders across Europe as a political imperative. Over the years, EU funds were used in the massive network of cronyism in Greece, and its governments produced financial accounts that were short of accurate, especially before it entered the euro. Still, keeping Greece in the EU was a politically necessary step; it is a geopolitically crucial state, bordering Turkey, the Balkans, and the Middle East, and has historic and cultural ties with Russia based on a shared Orthodox religion. You must keep such a state in your camp, however difficult.
Much the same is true of Italy. Roberto Saviano’s “Gomorrah’’ details regions of lawlessness and horror in this founding member of the EU, some inadvertently funded by the union. Still, the crumbling nature of the Italian state and economy has long been known across Europe and accepted. To do otherwise is to risk a massive crisis that could break the union.
Comment by Adamantine:
None of the ten members of the core of Europe will be lost.Uprooted someday but uprooted so that they may remain in the beast kingdom.
I am suspicious that the core of Europe is still best seen in the corpse of the Western European Union.
The western European Union gave up the ghost and died on June 30, 2011 but not before passing along its essential powers to the European Union at large during the previous decade.