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View Diary: A Tale of Two European Unions (8 comments)

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  •  Indeed (2+ / 0-)
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    quill, isabelle hayes

    One of the points that, in hindsight, I wish I would have developed further in this piece is the attitude that these individuals within the EU, and indeed, many Northern Europeans in general, have towards the "southerners."  During my visit to the EU (and also to NATO's headquarters in Brussels), any EU or NATO official that spoke to us could barely mask their prejudice against the "southerners," and against the Greeks in particular.  Any reference to Greece was made with a tone that included hints of ridicule.  

    Two examples: one academic that spoke to us, who has published a number of texts on the European Union, was discussing the crisis in the Eurozone.  He mentioned the three factors which he felt resulted in the crisis: bad design, bad luck, and bad decisions.  Upon uttering "bad decisions," the very next word out of his mouth was "Greece."  No further comment was necessary, because the point that he was making was quite obvious.  Now, one can debate the merits of Greece entering the Eurozone back in 2002, but it's important to remember that Greece is not the only country which, at the very least, "fudged" the numbers in order to qualify for the Maastricht Criteria.  Even Germany changed the way it calculated some of its economic figures, in order to qualify.  Yet no one makes an issue of any other country other than Greece.

    My second example comes from my visit to NATO, where an American representative that spoke to us was asked which countries are currently in line to join NATO.  Several countries were mentioned, the last one being the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.  Upon mentioning this, the American representative then asked if there were any Greeks in the room.  I raised my hand.  The representative's response?  "Okay, then we'll leave it as Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia."  In other words, it would have been perfectly okay to refer to the country as, simply, "Macedonia," had there not been "sensitive" Greeks (with their undoubtedly silly "nationalistic" feelings) in the audience.

    •  fascinating, and disturbing (3+ / 0-)
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      neo11, isabelle hayes, achronon

      I guess it's always been there, but I had at one time naively expected that these intelligent liberals who are so progressive on other issues, would at least have shown some sympathy and understanding for the people of Greece, nevermind the lies and bad policy that led to their victimizarion.

      A few years ago I had an argument with a postdoc from Oxford about austerity and Keynsian economics. He was insistent that budget balancing was the most critical thing, and was utterly disbelieving of the notion that stimulus spending was better policy than cuts.

      I tend to agree with Krugman's assessment that the Northern establishment is so far in denial as to be delusional.

      "I don't cry over milk spilled under bridges. I go make lemonade" - Bucky Katt

      by quill on Tue Mar 19, 2013 at 12:27:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  EU delusion (4+ / 0-)

        One can only hope that tonight's historic vote in Cyprus will represent the first step towards bursting that bubble of nothern EU delusion that you spoke of.

        It's interesting, by the way, to note that we were told by the EU that Cyprus was just days away from a chaotic bankruptcy and that it had no choice but to accept its "painful medicine."  Now that the party's over and the Cypriot parliament voted no, Cyprus suddenly has "until June."  Make what you will of that.

        Of course, in Greece, politicians here are so accustomed to saying "yes to everything" that there was no chance to even test out if the EU's threats about impending doom were just as empty and hollow.

    •  need enlightenment on the "Macedonia" cite (1+ / 0-)
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      american that i am, i thought i knew that Macedonia was a region in Greece...

      •  Macedonia issue (3+ / 0-)

        The main issue here is that the country neighboring Greece, in part, to the north has named itself Macedonia.

        Macedonia, as you correctly pointed out, is a region in Greece.  The geographical region of Macedonia also historically includes parts of the current Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, as well as a small part of Bulgaria.

        The issue, for most Greeks, is that the government of FYROM has, through words and actions, attempted to make an exclusive claim on the name "Macedonia" as well as the entire historical and cultural legacy attached to it, which is historically Greek, dating back to the days of Alexander the Great and even before.

        Politicians from FYROM have often been seen promoting maps of "Greater Macedonia," which includes a large chunk of Greek territory.  Their national flag is indeed a recreation of the Star of Vergina, a Greek symbol.  They've named their international airport "Alexander the Great."  They've named roads and other pieces of infrastructure after other Ancient Macedonian figures.  Greek artifacts and cemeteries in the territory have been desecrated, as recently as last week.  

        And despite the Greek side offering various compromises to FYROM on the naming issue, including names like "North Macedonia" (which would still allow them to call their territory Macedonia without being able to make an exclusive claim), these proposals have been repeatedly rejected.

        That's an oversimplified summary of the issue, but hopefully helpful.

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