I mentioned a couple weeks back that I’m working through a trio of books on the common theme of the challenges facing liberal democracies, and specifically the European Union. I think this quote, from After Europe by the Bulgarian political scientist Ivan Krastev, particularly well illustrates the wicked insolubility of the Euro Debt Crisis that broke out first in Greece some eight years ago:
“In handling the rebellion from Athens, European leaders faced a stark choice. They could either allow Greece to default and thus put the common currency at risk, destroy the Greek economy, and send the message that in a political union of creditors and debtors there is no place for solidarity – or save Greece on (Greek Prime Minister Alexis) Tsipras’s terms and thereby signal that political blackmail works, inspiring populist parties across the continent.
Faced with the dilemma, European leaders identified a third option: to save Greece on such Draconian terms that no other populist government would ever be tempted to follow its example. Tsipras is now the living demonstration that there is no alternative to the economic policies of the European Union.
Krastev calls it “the victory of economic reason over the will of the voters” and writes that “For the common European currency to survive, voters of debtor nations must be deprived of their right to change economic policy despite retaining a capacity to change governments,” and that this is not democracy. He contends that
“a political union capable of backing the euro with a common fiscal policy cannot be accomplished as long as EU member states remain fully democratic. Their citizens will just not support it.”
So the choices are democracy or the common currency, but not both. It’s hard for me to find fault with his analysis. No wonder Krastev called his book “After Europe.”
Earlier this month I published the post Erdogan & Northern Cyprus, in which I admitted ignorance about the aggressive Islamification of Turkish Cyprus. Now that it’s on my radar, I have found new news in the Washington Post today, which may be behind a paywall for you, so here is the first bit:
NICOSIA, Cyprus — The editor of a left-wing Turkish Cypriot newspaper on Monday accused Turkey’s president of instructing supporters to launch a violent attack against his publication’s offices over criticism for Ankara’s military offensive into Syria.
Sener Levent said his newspaper Afrika won’t be silenced in calling out Turkey’s policies either in the breakaway north of ethnically-split Cyprus or elsewhere.
This has to be seen in light of Turkish President Erdogan’s Afrin moment, obviously. The question now, in both incidences, is where will Mr. Erdogan stop. The so-called international community should have something to say on Afrin, though I continue to search in vain for a White House response. In Cyprus, the question is, is Mr. Erdogan is content to merely boil frogs, or does he mean to cause real trouble?
For a little bit of a longer view, here is Cypriot hopes for unification are on life support, but not doomed from theconversation.com.
In the article Greeks turn to the forests for fuel as winter nears, the Guardian notes the return of malaria, "officially eliminated 40 years ago," to eastern Attica and the Peloponnese.
The Middle East was the center of the universe last weekend, as the world watched the Egyptian election results and Syria's downing of that Turkish F-4. Tomorrow the North Atlantic moves to the center, with the Obamacare ruling on this side of the ocean and the 1,437th Euro summit on the other.
As the potential first country out of the Eurozone, you'd think Greece would be under enough pressure. But consider its geographical position.
To the east: The Aviationist blog has published a video alongside an article that contends that,
“It is almost a daily practice for the Greek artillery that its radars lock Turkish fighter jets as they illegally enter Greek airspace. However Greeks do not push the button….”
Hard to see how they sort that out anyway, since the distance between many Greek islands and the Turkish mainland is trivial. The island of Samos, for instance, lies scarcely a mile off the Dilek National Park on a tip of Turkish coast.
Then consider Greece's long unhappy relations with its northern neighbor, The Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia, a name Greece insisted on at FYROM's independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, because it felt that "Macedonia implies a territorial claim by Skopje to a province in northern Greece with the same name." Not that anybody calls Macedonia "FYROM."
Now Macedonia and Greece are in an argument … over license plates. RFERL suggests that this photo from the internet suggests that Greek officials are covering the Macedonian "MK" with FYROM stickers on cars admitted over the Greek border.