Life was the debate on Europe’s strategic autonomy at the Circle of Ideas conference “Greece After VI: National Strategy and International Tour”.
Professor emeritus, Yiannis Voulgaris, spoke about Putin’s hybrid war in Ukraine that forces Europe to redefine itself in order to cope with a new polycentric world. He argued that it is an ideological and political battle for the reconstruction of the West. The question remains “which West?” It cannot be the West of 1989 or 2000. It must seek a decisive stand against the war caused by Russia. And in the new idea of the reconstruction of the West it will deposit its historical experience and culture.
Also EKPA professor emeritus, Panagiotis Ioakeimidis, noted how Europe’s strategic autonomy means it has the tools to defend itself. He explained that Macron meant defense means when he talked about the strategy of autonomy in 2017. He pointed out that the war in Ukraine changed everything, because the conflict with Russia came back. Thus, what Macron wanted for Europe to function defensively outside of NATO did not work. It is therefore obliged to cooperate with the USA.
He added that Europe lacks a culture of self-defense. It moves more in the economic than in the military field and must speed up its enlargement and change the way decisions are made even with the removal of the VETO for which Greece’s negative reactions are inexplicable.
More optimistic, the former deputy foreign minister, Dimitris Kourkoulas, said that Putin with the war in Ukraine and Boris Johnson with the choice of BREXIT made Europe stronger in the way it reacted than a few years ago. According to Mr. Kourkoulas, we are in the rising phase of the EU and it must revisit its fundamental principles as there are unprecedented problems, however much has been done and is being done.
On the contrary, publicist Costas Botopoulos stated that he is not optimistic, even though within the core of the EU there seems to be some political will to move forward. But he still wants to mature. Why doesn’t it move forward without listening to what its people say and what they want because unfortunately what they say is contradictory.
The director of ELIAMEP, Giorgos Pagoulatos emphasized how Europe lacks the strategic autonomy for what it wants. It has, he continued, unfortunately failed in its interventions in the Middle East, the Balkans and more. “Only if it defines the single strategic pillar and its strategic interests does it have a role. And in the defense sector it cannot but be an arm of NATO. The picture is not auspicious. It usually ends up instead of other steps, he added.
Loukas Tsoukalis, emeritus professor and President of ELIAMEP, emphasized how when we talk about Europe’s strategic autonomy we are talking about a strategic pillar of the EU within the North Atlantic Alliance. He explained how this can unfortunately be done without the 27 being united, as happened with the euro and Schengen. “They will start with two members and the others will follow in the next phase. In which will Greece be? I want to believe in the first. But the most important thing is to leave the door open”, he underlined and pointed out that the only figure in Europe is Macron . Also, Mr. Tsoukalis underlined how enhanced cooperation in reception could contribute.