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Thesis & Antithesis

A critical perspective on energy, international politics & current affairs

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Location: Washington, D.C.

greekdefaultwatch@gmail.com Natural gas consultant by day, blogger on the Greek economy by night. Trained as an economist and political scientist. I believe in common sense and in data, and my aim is to offer insight written in language that is clear and convincing.

05 October 2005

Fragile decision-making

The Financial Times quotes an official from a “heavyweight EU state” as complaining: “The British consulted the Turks and the Americans before they consulted us” (1). Now add Jack Straw’s jubilation as he hugged Abdullah Gul, Turkey’s foreign minister, as there you have it: style, personalities, and fortune are playing their usual role in international affairs.

It is easy to think of politics in grand strategic terms, defined by interests, alignments, and coalitions. But it is just as important to look at the personal side—who champions what, how people persuade those who hold out; and so on. It is no small matter that Jack Straw invested so much time and energy into getting talks with Turkey to start as scheduled. And whether officials feel a cold shoulder because they were left out of the inner circle of decision-making is just as important.

I remember that when Greece signed the accession treaty to join the European Economic Community in 1979, Giscard d'Estaing said: “It was not Greece that entered the community, it was Karamanlis” (Karamanlis was then Greece’s prime minister). In other words, geopolitics dictates that Turkey and the European Union will have to work together, in full partnership if possible, in association if necessary. The European peoples will, no doubt, have their say about that; but it will matter just as much who is at the helm of Europe and Turkey at that time—what their ambitions are, and their skills and temperaments.

References:
(1) Daniel Dombey, “European diplomats raise eyebrows over US involvement in the deal-making,” Financial Times, 5 October 05

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