Summary of the Director's Forum with Andreas Andrianopoulos, Greek Politician, Author, and former Wilson Center Public Policy Scholar.
While the title of his talk was "Greece Views the Modern World," Andreas Andrianopoulos devoted the core of his remarks to critical issues confronting Europe and the Balkans today, including the issues of NATO and EU enlargement, continuing unresolved ethnic and historical issues in the former Yugoslavia, the presence and the proximity of the Muslim world in Southeast Europe, and the relationship of Greece to all of these issues.
Mr. Andrianopoulos brings a special and unique focus to the discussion of these problems, having spent twenty years in the Greek Parliament (from 1974 to 1994) and having served as a member of the Greek government holding at different times four different cabinet portfolios, including Deputy Foreign Minister. Not the least of his distinctions is that he was a Public Policy Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center in 1998.
On the issue of NATO and EU enlargement, Mr. Andrianopoulos cautioned that the pressures to take in many new members, while understandable and in some cases even desirable, would confront both organizations with severe organizational and operational problems. For instance, he noted that ultimately the key to stability in the former Yugoslavia is to bring each of these weak and unstable countries under the wing of the EU. However, as a practical matter, if the EU makes a decision this year to include 10 new members by 2003-2004 then it would be virtually impossible to absorb another four or five new countries from the Balkans in a reasonable timeframe.
Mr. Andrianopoulos emphasized that the Balkans were still a "powder keg," but that another explosion could still be avoided if the problems were properly treated. In this regard, he warned that the issue of the borders of the Albanian nation were still an unresolved destabilizing problem, which could wind up embroiling at least four countries or entities in the region with sizeable Albanian populations - Kosovo, Albania itself, parts of Macedonia, Montenegro, and even the northern parts of Greece.
The whole of Southeast Europe, in his view, is confronted by the presence of Islam both from indigenous Muslim populations as well as by the proximity of the Muslim world in the Middle East and North Africa. Mr. Andrianopoulos stressed that, whereas this proximity to Islam has been and still could be a factor of instability in the Balkans, this does not have to be the case. He cited the important issue of Turkey and its relationship to Islamic issues. He noted the irony and tension in the fact that the strong involvement of the military in Turkish politics over the years was necessitated, in large part, by the need to fight the Islamic opponents of European-style civil society. But, this periodic militarization of Turkish politics has been a major factor in preventing Turkey from being fully integrated in European institutions, including the EU and the Council of Europe. Andrianopoulos also noted that he did not expect the continuing unresolved issue of the political and military division of Cyprus to block Cyprus' expected entry into the EU later this year.