Lord Howell, vice-leader of the conservatives and foreign policy spokesman in the Lords Chamber of the British parliament predicted that politicians will be shocked by the Euro-election results, since a big right wave will storm into the European parliament. The Lord was one of the guests to the round table of the Greek government, which was organized by Economist magazine for the 13th time in Athens. “The way information is distributed has changed drastically in the past 10 years. People and communities communicate in a different way and most European governments cannot understand this fact,” said the English conservative in front politicians, businessmen, diplomats, scientists, journalists. He also spoke of the necessity to rethink international institutions – the World Commerce organization is slipping, the UN Security Council is reflecting the 1946 reality, and the EU is up to the requirements of 1959.”I am for the expansion of the EU – all European countries should be within its borders,” also said Lord Howell.
“If the conservatives win the upcoming elections in Britain, they will create the most conservative government, which London has ever had and the European Union will face the most conservative government it has ever dealt with. All this will put a big question mark on how the Union will expand,” believes the European editor of The Economist John Pete. According to him, the EU public opinion does not support further expansion and the countries already have enough problems – Croatia has a problem with Slovenia, Macedonia with Greece, and the Turkish membership keeps on separating the Euro Union. “We have to think about the countries, which are in between the European Union and Russia. Ukraine, Moldova, and Belarus do not stand a chance and will never join us. But if we look at it long-term, those three countries should belong to the EU,” concludes John Pete.
Dora Bakoyanni also spoke at the forum and she stressed that Greece is part of the European basis, which demands of a more active Europe – Europe needs to be more active on the political scene. She called for the European countries to ratify the Lisbon Treaty sooner rather than later, when it is going to be too old and the governments will need to prepare a new document. Dora Bakoyanni said she supports the admittance of Germany, India and Brazil as permanent country members of the UN’s Security Council and she said she is against the protectionism as our main weapon against the economic crisis. “The way a river cannot change its current, we also cannot find a solution to the crisis with old public practices,” said the Greek first diplomat.
The US ambassador in Athens Daniel Speckhard advised that Greece and the US need to review the priorities in their relationship. “The dispute over the name of a neighboring country, the tension in the Aegean Sea and the Cyprian problem and not the only topics of discussion, they are not even the most important ones we should cooperate upon,” said Daniel Speckhard. Iran is one of the main priorities of the foreign policy of the new American administration and this is also a priority for the Greek security, because Athens would not be happy with one nuclear Iran. Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan are another priority of the new US president and those countries are also extremely important to Greece as well. Last year, 150 000 illegal immigrants have arrived in Greece and 50 thousand of them are from the above mentioned countries. According to ambassador Speckhard, the economic crisis and the piracy in the oceans are another two priority topics of discussion between Greece and the USA. The US diplomat stressed that the Balkans as a whole are also a priority for Washington. He reminded that one of the first foreign-political visits of the new American president was to Turkey. Soon after that, the US vice president visited Belgrade, Pristine, and Sarajevo and in about a month the Secretary of State will participate in a forum in Greece.
“In the last few months, the Serbian people had presidential and parliamentary elections and both times they voted in favor of a European future for Serbia. Our membership in the EU is our strategic and vital interest and we will not let anyone discourage us,” said from the round table the Serbian foreign minister Vuk Jeremic. He called the European Union to respect the sovereignty and inseparability of Serbia. “Kosovo is a Serbian province and no one can change that,” also said Vuk Jeremic. He called for abstention when it comes to recognizing Kosovo until the court procedure is taking place in the International Court in Hague.
Laza Kekic, director of The Economist Intelligence Unit for Central and Eastern Europe talked about the seriousness of the global financial crisis and the slow recovery from it. According to him, the crisis evoked in the US and the US will have put an end to it.