chapter  4
24 Pages

State interests, external dependency trajectories and ‘Europe’: Greece

Greece became the tenth member of the European Community (EC) in 1981. The country’s drive for membership and its role and policies in the context of European integration have been the subject of notable political and academic interest over the years. For a long time, Greece was not regarded as a ‘mainstream’ member-state. However, since the early to mid-1990s, Greece has been seen as one of the most ‘orthodox, pro-integrationist countries’,1 consistently advocating deeper, more rapid and comprehensive, pro-federalist policy initiatives. And this is something that enjoys widespread support both from the body politic as well as from the vast majority of the Greek people. It can be argued that Greece’s sense of ‘European-ness’ forms an organic part of the modern national cultural discourse. An attempt to pin down the historical particularities of Greek national discourses, taken on their own, is beyond the scope of this discussion. However, a few words about the shifting (or nonshifting) perceptions and attitudes of Greeks towards post-war Europe and European integration and the extent to which these are embedded in dominant national cultural patterns will be useful. For Constantinos Tsoukalas, the image of Europe and more generally of the West in Greece, developed as a direct reflection of the image of Greece itself.2 The most vivid illustration of this has been offered by Nobel Prize-winner George Sepheris who in the 1950s spoke of ‘Greekness’ as a transhistorical continuous process where European modernism and native primitivism would constantly enrich each other in a totally original symbiotic plenitude.3 Through such discursive exhortations, Westernization and Europeanization appeared as prerequisites for social progress and economic development. This notion of ‘belonging to Europe’ was manifested in concrete political terms in the post-war international environment and especially after the emergence of the European institutional project. This was a turning point that transformed the cultural discourse into actual policy options and preferences. After having lived for more than a century as a typically Balkan country Greece seemed able to actively place its present and project its future within the remarkable European integration process. As Tsoukalas has noted:

If the idea of Europe still functioned as the epitome of a universal civilization, Greece had, by now, no reason to feel permanently excluded in the long run. And consequently for the first time since independence, the country seemed to be following the path that might lead towards the ‘final solution’ of its congenial discursive contradiction.4