Volume 3, Issue 6
AHI President’s Note: The American Hellenic Institute presents AHI’s Capital Report which is a timely synopsis of recent policy discussions in Washington to help keep you abreast of the latest developments. As a service to our membership and constituency, and to gain an understanding of the position of other entities on our issues, the American Hellenic Institute attends and participates at policy forums or roundtable discussions to ensure the policy positions of the Greek-American community are represented.
The content provided in AHI’s Capital Report is for informational purposes only, and does not necessarily reflect the position or opinion of AHI.
CSIS Panel Analyzes Central European Issues, Economy
AHI attended a conference titled “Trans-Atlanticism in Transition: A Focus on Central Europe” hosted by Center of the Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), on October 14, 2011. Opening Remarks were offered by Janusz Bugajski, chair, Lavrentis Lavrentiadis Chair in Southeast European Studies, and director, New European Democracies Project, CSIS. Bugajski is also a senior fellow of CSIS’s Europe Program.
The first panel titled, “Central Europe in the International Community” addressed issues relevant to Central Europe, Greece’s economy, and its role in the region. Sharon Fisher of Global Insight presented on “The Impact of the Economic Crisis” and expressed the view that the problem in the European Union lies in what she described as “a blur leadership.” The second panelist, Simon Serfaty, CSIS, addressed “EU Futures.” Serfaty argued that now more than ever, the EU is mired in a totality crisis where membership in the union is vital to its function. Stephen Flanagan, also of CSIS, presented on the topic “NATO Commitments.” Flanagan emphasized that NATO is in need of a crisis management system and there is an emerging issue of membership contribution to the alliance. In his opinion, there is more focus placed in the Middle East and North Africa where one sees the advancement of partnerships in context of the Libyan operation. He said there is an opportunity to work with Turkey to advance issues of common interests and highlighted that the U.S. Congress has a funding process for the maintenance of European security. The final speaker of on the first panel was Stephen Larrabee, RAND Corporation, who spoke on “Transatlantic Partnership.” In his remarks, Larrabee addressed Greece’s economy and predicted its default. However, he stated that within the EU Greece is not the main problem and efforts should be placed on structuring the overall default of the EU. In his opinion, there is a serious problem of lack of competitiveness in the markets and the EU is preoccupied within itself on how to better achieve the desired political union. Lastly, in terms of the U.S., he offered that the Obama administration, while it observes the EU crisis with great concern, places its priorities upon China’s rise and in the unfolding of the Arab spring.
Brookings Examines Turkish Foreign Policy amid Domestic Change
On October 25, 2011 AHI attended an event at the Brookings Institution titled “In the Eye of the Storm: Turkish Foreign Policy in an Age of Domestic Realignment.” Introductory remarks were offered by Strobe Talbott, president, Brookings Institution. Panelists were: Ümit Boyner, chair, Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSIAD) and Soli Özel, professor, Kadis Has University, Istanbul. Fiona Hill, director, Center of the United States and Europe, Brookings Institution, moderated the discussion.
The discussion mainly aimed to explore Turkish foreign policy and assessed the impact of domestic developments and the shifting of the civilian-military power balance on Turkey’s international relations.
With regard to Turkish accession to the EU, Boyner stated that Turkey has been faced with the discussion of whether Cyprus’s blocking of eight chapters of the ECUI was legal or illegal. However, despite this discussion, he does not think it is ethical to minimize the whole EU accession process of Turkey into the Cyprus issue, especially when the Turkish Cypriots were willing to be part of a solution in 2004 and the European Union showed an indifference to this matter. He recommended Europeans need to start rethinking how the future of Europe can be affected by reducing the Turkish problem or the Turkish accession problem to the Cyprus issue and come to terms with it. At the same time, if progress is made with issues like visa and free trade agreements before Cyprus take the temporary rotating EU presidency, it might motivate Turkey not to protest such a presidency.
Moreover, Ozel agreed that there is plenty of gas and oil in the area of Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt and Cyprus, which can be a starting point for wars between all those parties or an opportunity to share the benefits from those resources. He also observed that before problems in the region developed, even before the sanctions against Israel in June, the Turkish government basically sent a message to the Europeans that Turkey will cut off political relations with Europe once the Greek Cypriots take the presidency. Ozel stated that by letting this problem go unsolved that it generates even more problems. Furthermore, in his view, the issue of the Israeli – Greek Cypriot agreement becomes complicated because the exploration of the gas and oil is being given to an American company and the fragile Greek Cypriot economy is being saved by Russians. So Ozel suggested that Europeans, Americans and everyone should not think that this can go on forever as it would be truly irresponsible on their part.
CSIS Panel Analyzes Central European Issues, Economy