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Mediterranean Quarterly 14.1 (2003) 1-5
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A Modern Approach to Progress
In this brief essay I propose to present a picture of my country, Greece, and its role as a model of stability in a turbulent region and to underline some of the core issues that Greeks need to deal with in the post-Cold War era. My views are those of the highest elected representative, whose position as speaker of the Greek parliament offers a special vantage point from which to sense my countrymen's sentiments.
Ours is a mature democracy with a high level of consensus on critical issues, and its government reflects and articulates the interests of a sophisticated electorate in the modern age of communications.
Greece today is enjoying a period of political stability, economic growth, and enhanced international stature. This is due to a significant degree to the progress achieved in the economic sector and to our commitment to peace and stability. My country's positive global image has been affirmed by the faith that international financial institutions have shown toward our fiscal policies and by Greece's admission, as a core member, to the European Economic and Monetary Union. Economic growth translates into political tranquility. Political life in Greece is now progressing smoothly, and the country's democratic institutions have been fully modernized.
In the area of external relations, Greece's record of the past ten years is quite impressive. Our country has improved relations with all Balkan countries, a fact that is reflected in significant Greek economic investments in most of them.
We also provide direct aid wherever the need is great and our means allow. Excellent and stable relations with Balkan nations are complimented [End Page 1] by our initiative for a policy of rapprochement toward Turkey in the spirit of the European Council's decisions.
Above and beyond its participation in the European Union, Greece is an active member of numerous regional organizations that promote cooperation in southeastern Europe and the Mediterranean, Adriatic, and Ionian Seas. Greece is currently playing certainly a central if not the leading role in its wider region. Countries in the Balkans and beyond see our country as a stable power to which they can look to improve their own economic and institutional structures, enhance their cooperation with the EU, and become active participants in the economic and political life of the continent. Unquestionably, Greece's level of development and its peaceful and stabilizing policy make it a credible partner in all spheres of activity. Greece is now at the crossroads of European and international developments—a role underscored by two important events.
First, Greece assumes the presidency of the EU for the first half of 2003, for which the following five priorities have been set: first, completion of negotiations with new member applicants, including Cyprus, and possibly the signing of the actual treaties of accession; second, pursuit of substantial progress in the work for a convention on the future of Europe; third, the forging and strengthening of a common EU foreign policy as well as closer cooperation with the United States and Russia and renewal of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership; fourth, promotion of the European citizens' security program by ensuring more effective protection of the EU's external borders, combating terrorism and organized crime, and controlling illegal migration; and fifth, development of socioeconomic sectors, such as agricultural reforms, employment, the energy market, trans-European transportation networks, and small enterprises.
The second major event facing Greece is the staging of the Olympic Games in 2004. Two years before the commencement of the games, preparations are well advanced, a fact confirmed by the International Olympic Committee. For the organization of the Olympics, in addition to the state machinery, the whole of Greek society has been mobilized and involved. A program for volunteers, which is open to all Greeks, both within and outside the country, is very important in this respect. All necessary measures are being taken to facilitate the smooth movement of the thousands of spectators and [End Page 2] athletes as well as the creation of a...