Τετάρτη, 25 Αυγούστου 2010

George Contogeorgis, Cultural Europe and Geopolitics

Cultural Europe and Geopolitics[1]

Georges CONTOGEORGIS

Abstract: The question on the meeting of the cultural with the geopolitical approach to Europe is raised for the first time after World War II, as a result of the internal ethnocentric crystallization of Europe and, at the same time, of the danger that the European Powers may turn into an appendage of the new hegemonic complex. The collapse of bipolarize, the geostrategic weakening of Russia, the peculiar antagonistic tug-of-war between the European Union and the USA in the

environment of globalization, however, set the relationship between the cultural identification of Europe and its state structure on a new basis.

The dilemmas that are brought about by the matter of the meeting of a multicultural Europe with its political perspective cannot help but lead to the disengagement of political Europe from its geography and, in any case, from its non-anthropocentric (its feudalistic references, such as religion or the early liberties) cultural base. In their place a new politeyan patriotism, as far as its content is concerned, will be cultivated, and will simultaneously construct the cultural and the political identity of

the European Union on bases that are clearly anthropocentric (that is, seated in the perspective of freedom in the individual, social, and political sphere).

Keywords: cultural, geopolitical, bipolarize, geostrategic, globalization

I. The establishment of a ‘political society’ (or a state) require the union of either an act of power or of general will of the social body concerned besides the international context making the will or act of power legitimate.

The European Union is a new political phenomenon to the modern cosmosystem[2]; yet it is well-known in certain particular historical circumstances of the Greek cosmosystem2. Interesting in the modern context is the fact that the process of European integration reveals in

fact that it is not federalism – or rather a meeting point between societies within a common political framework – in crisis, but a socio-political system of genuine socialism that has entailed the crush of federalism in the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia.

The European Union is an unforced political experience issued by the political will of its Members. I mean the ‘countries’ and not the ‘peoples’, as the idea of political Europe has been envisaged from the top. It is also an idea going even further as compared to the will expressed by its founding fathers.

This remark means that a political Europe has already brought together the material conditions, that is, cultural and material maturity, on the one hand, and has overcome negative reserves and influences, on the other hand. Indeed, the success of this idea on a continent with divisions and bloody wars shows that the basis is very solid and that this project marks the existence of a steady element that the circumstances prevent from expressing itself.

On the other hand, just like any idea of a society, the idea of the political Europe does not only have joint bases; at the same time, it has limits that, in this case, influence the deepness of the stakes as well as its own borders. Thus, the project of Europe is meant to define its content and space.

Which is the steady element of Europe and which were the circumstances preventing it from being expressed in a political project?

The steady element making up Europe is mainly culture and the cultural infrastructure of the continent. Nevertheless, the general cultural reference may fuel the dynamics of moulding a common political will under certain circumstances. In order to put into practice such a joint political project, meeting these conditions is the core of cultural or general identity reference with particular cultural or identity references.

II. The general cultural reference represents an idea of Europe essentially settled within the Greek cosmos. This idea is based on the synthesis of two different identities: an idea of cosmosystem and a polity identity. I distinguish between polity identity and political identity as political patriotism may turn into attachment to a political community (the state) or may be expressed on the level of global cosmosystem identity, that is, outside basic polity form[3].

The growth of the European idea and its elements, as well as its stages has been confronted with two great elements favouring division: one is the passage of Western, or rather Latin, Europe to Middle Ages; the other is the features and conditions of the continent’s transition to modern times. The despotic transition of Latin Europe has destroyed its more or less anthropocentric nature and decreased the connection with Hellenism to mere Christianity[4]. As the revival of anthropocentric movement and its ethnocentric outcome are different as compared to Eastern Europe, they are the origin of power conflicts and a deeply antithetic vision on passage to modernity.

However it may be, the research on common cultural basis of Europe starts from a central presupposition regarding geographical identity. From the topographic point of view, Europe is a core cultural factor, a sine qua non condition when analyzing other cultural elements. Europe is opposed to Africa, Asia, and the Americas essentially through its geography.

Topographical appurtenance is the initial hypothesis to start the discussion. Conversely, the non-appurtenance to Europe is the formal reason for exclusion. There are communities on the continent that do not culturally belong to the so-called European culture, while others share the European values with a topography lying elsewhere. Besides, geography is a spare argument for countries touching Europe’s borders. It is the argument raised mainly against Russia and Turkey’s joining them: should the borders of Europe be pushed beyond its geography all the way to Alaska or Iran and Iraq? And, in this case, why not envisaging Israel or Morocco and other neighbours of Russia and Turkey join it?

In fact, geography is more than a topographic element: it is a mental reality that is not devoid of cultural load. Already in the Greek mythology the concept of Europe is symbolized by its opposition against Asia. Once the continents delimitation, the Greeks want or manage to

endow them with particular symbolisms. The abduction of Europe (by Zeus) in Asia means at the same time its duty or rather historical dependence and act of birth, its accession to autonomy.

Indeed, this automatic act has a deep significance as it reminds the antithesis between the Greek civilization as opposed to the Asian civilization. One is anthropocentric, i.e. based on freedom, while the other is despotic. Europe is an emancipated woman entering the history scene via its accession to anthropocentrism.

It is important to notice that at the beginning it is not ‘Greece’, but Europe being against Asia. As the Greeks are the only to create and embody the anthropocentric cosmos, the Europeans are barbarians to them. Thus, the Europeans are in a particular position; they are barbarians, yet they are close, familiar to the Greeks. Even after their accession to anthropocentrism, the Greeks would not cease considering themselves Europeans. In its Politics, Aristotle notices that Asia has a penchant for willing servitude embodying the despotic system. The Asian despotism is opposed not only to the Greek anthropocentrism, but also to European peoples that are brave and led by a free spirit according to him. It is clear that behind this opposition there is the antithesis between Asian state despotism and the predespotic status of Europe[5].

Nevertheless, Europe will be part of the Greek core cosmosystem from now on without acquiring an identity characteristic of the continent. The concept of Europe will be topographic for a long time; it exists with the Greeks but not with the European peoples.

The cosmosystemic break after the fall of the Western Roman Empire makes the advantage of continuous contact of the European world with Greek cities disappear and particularly its insertion to the Roman Empire and its conversion to Christianity beyond the anthropocentric city system[6]. On the European continent, there is a return to the cosmosystemic dualism: the Latin West falls into a deep despotism, while the Greek East has a small scale city based anthropocentric cosmosystem.

The 9th century marks a turning point within the Greek cosmos that is expressed through a dramatic reconsideration of the geostrategic orientation of Byzantium. These changes are based on organic reintegration of the European West to city small scale anthropocentric cosmosystem[7] beyond the Slavic East in the Christian cultural area (Heller, 1997; Vodoff, 1988). For the first time, the geography of Europe coincides with a fundamental cultural element, Christianity, and participates to the anthropocentric future of Hellenism in terms of peripheral core area.

Nevertheless, this cultural union of Europe leads to a cosmosystemic heterogeneity of the continent. The westerners are privileged by the resettlement of anthropocentric parameters leading to the city system: in Italy, the city is an alternative society project facing the feudal system and favouring monetary change. Beyond the Alps, the city is in fact an integrating part of the feudal field, thus being reduced to a commune. Although this evolution has been the efficient cause of passing from the small to the large cosmosystemic scale on a long term, the engaged process of transition from despotism to anthropocentrism is the basis of a new division of Europe that is not to be pursued by the Slavic East.

Considering these facts, although the concept of the European East and West has been created in Constantinople to describe the division of the Roman Empire and distinguish

between the Latin (pledged or despotic) and the Greek (anthropocentric) worlds, it acquires a different meaning as it goes further from Byzantium. It will define the division of the continent between the new West from an anthropocentric point of view and the Slavic backward East. Yet the doctrine division projected on the symbolic level will only be a cover

for a reality relating to the conditions of passage to anthropocentric cosmosystem on both sides of Europe. In fact, differences between Catholicism and Protestantism are by far the most important as compared to the ones between Catholicism and Orthodoxy. Moreover, the Slavic Orthodoxy is pledged except for the ritual. From several points of view, it is closer to Catholicism than Greek Orthodoxy, particularly at pre-ethnocentric times.

The opposition occurred as a consequence of the differences in the transition to anthropocentrism varies throughout Europe. A Spanish bishop reproaches to the youth of the country that they are not concerned with holy books and learn the language of the nonbelievers to read non-Christian books. The books belonging to the Arab non-believers were

written by Aristotle and Plato, they are not excerpts from the Koran. Speaking to the Russians, a Polish Jesuit notices that the Greeks – the Byzantines – provide only liturgical books and keep scholar books to themselves.

At the end of the Middle Ages, from Spain to Poland, Europe distinguishes itself from the Slavic Europe and is opposed to the Muslim Arabs. The words of the Spanish bishop reveal not only the difference of religion, but also the anthropocentric inferiority of the Christian Spain. On the contrary, the Polish Catholic underlines to the Russians that they are closer to the Greeks from the Christian point of view, while the Poles are close from the point of view of the Greek literature.

In their turn, the Byzantines, after settling their internal affairs to make Hellenism and the new religion live together or be understood – the approach to life, literature, etc. – are fully aware of their anthropocentric nature. During his mission to the Arabs, Kyrillos, one of the two Greek intellectuals Christianizing the Slavs, reminds them: “Sciences come from us”. That remark underlies that it is (not only) religion that makes the difference. Stress is laid on the Greek origin of sciences to underline the continuity of anthropocentric Hellenism at the time of Byzantium, that is, the constant of its own identity and not the history of a phenomenon no

longer attended.

As compared to Europe, the Byzantines are the sole owners of the Roman imperium and the genuine representatives of the Hellenic anthropocentrism. However, this range covers both the Greeks and the Romans. Religion is a capital element of the union despite the rivalry

between Churches on primacy concerning the influence on the metropolitan power of Byzantium and the social power claimed by the Roman Church.

Nevertheless, we are aware of the deep difference separating the Greek world from the rest of Europe: “I consider that the borders of Europe are in Thrace” – on the coast of the Bosporus – notices King Constantin Porphyrogenete, while King Julian underlines that ‘Greece’

is clearly wider and different in concept as compared to Europe: one is geographical, the other is cosmosystemic. Indeed, the Hellenic anthropocentrism is opposed to Christianity in this sense.

Crusades are revealing for two elements drawing the attention of Western Europeans: the Islam and the Byzantine anthropocentrism. The Islam is the religious other that has moulded the European unity at the beginning. Westerners would support the Byzantines when facing difficulties to control the holy places. The anthropocentric Byzantium cause admiration and jealousy of the Western feudal class at the same time. It is a role model; at the same time, the feudal class is aware of their fate when facing its anthropocentric superiority: the serf versus the free man, the notable concerning the cosmopolite bourgeois and the civil servants (Contogeorgis, Histoire de la Grèce. For controversies on crusades, see Cohen, 1983; Alphandéry, Dupront, 1995; Maalouf, 1983).

The mass meeting caused by crusades of the Westerners and the Hellenic anthropocentric would bear cosmo-historical consequences. It would accelerate the crush of the feudal domain and its anthropocentric transition starts by the rebirth of the Byzantines’ interest in Europe. The occupation and plundering of Greek lands including Constantinople by

the crusaders are the paramount meeting in point of consequences. Yet at the same time, it leads to a deep division of Europe that, although cosmosystemic at the beginning, turns into a doctrine symbolism.

First of all, it breaks the understanding settled between Hellenism and Christianity within Byzantium. The Church prefers the alliance with the Ottoman Islam against the clear will of the leading class (bourgeois, politicians, intellectuals) of the Greeks declaring themselves in favour of a strategic alliance with their Latin homologues. After the fall of Byzantium and the political marginalization of the Greeks, the European geopolitics adapts itself to the dynamics of the post-feudal order construction. This would bring about a division in other directions caused by bloody religious wars or the developing ethnocentric project. Considering the environment, the opposition between the European East and West changes actors and content. Russia replaces Hellenism in embodying the European East but this time the West substitutes Hellenism towards an anthropocentric movement as opposed to the Slavs,

who confine themselves to a state feudalism until the beginning of the 20th century.

Thus, religion is at the same time a fundamental identity element and a division element in Europe. Nevertheless, internal identification of Europe including Christianity is settled based on the Greek cosmosystem politically managed by the Roman cosmopolis. It is the same basis that legitimates the solidarity against the other, which is the Arab and Ottoman Islam. We should not forget that the Arabians identify Europe with “Roumis”, that is, Byzantines.

This holds true for modern times: religion has largely helped hiding or supporting cosmosystemic antagonisms opposing the European peoples. Anticlericalism or Protestantism express each by itself the clashes entailed by the pledging of the Catholic Church or by the developed dynamics of the new anthropocentric social classes in the West.

We have to mention that Church division is due to the cosmosystemic and thus political division of Europe. Conflicts occurring on the continent oppose particularly counterparts from the point of view of the doctrine. This holds true for Catholics or Protestants, as well as for Orthodox. Russia’s case is interesting: until the Crimean War, Russia plays on Orthodoxy embodying Hellenism; consequently, it invents pan-Slavism and the nationalities’ project. Thucydides is clear about it: the internal and external affairs of the countries need justification to be legitimate, yet they are always conditioned by interest.

1. Thus, we presume that from a certain moment on Europe has reached cultural borders connecting them to its geographical position just like differing endogen interests preventing it from identifying itself around its own identity. Chasms favoured by anthropocentric emergence of Europe focus on identity conflicts originating in national issues, the will of different ethnics to be politically invested and the fight to control the European space. On the other hand, the belated anthropocentric transition of the Slavic Europe brings another source of conflict, that of the path to follow to break from despotism and the content of the new world. The Bolshevik revolution and the division of Europe into two sociopolitical sides express this reality.

The crystallization of nationalities and the end of transition systems (from socialism to state liberalism) after the 1980s seem to be the end of a long period of internal chasms during which the micro-identity argument prevails at the expense of the global European identity. The revival of the European idea brings together the identity offer originated in geography,

the anthropocentric aims (liberties, rights, etc.), the manifold symbolisms issued by religion, traditions, memories, etc.

It is this new geopolitical reality that is at the origin of the endeavours of some American circles to elaborate a philosophy of the history based on religion or rather on the religious element of civilization (Huntington, 1996. For a critical approach of his hypothesis, see our survey Huntington et ‘le choc des civilisations’. ‘Civilisation religieuse’ ou cosmosystème ? », Revista de Historia das Ideias, vol. 24/2003). To interpret historical evolution through religion, to see evolving anthropocentric proximity of a society depending on religion is undoubtedly absurd and eventually meant to support geostrategic aims.

At a first glance, the projection of religion as argument for identity offer does not appear in the policies of the European Union in point of enlargement. However, it influences certain intellectual circles on the continent and has largely supported disfavoured social classes to find a refuge and feel at home when confronted with deep mutations of contemporary world. It is also anthropocentric homogeneity of the world and research of difference in external symbolism that allows the emergence of a trend to define the European civilization and identity and more strictly the Western one in terms of religion. Indeed, we can see that it is more and more about Judeo-Christian identity breaking away from the Greek-Roman anthropocentric references.

Nevertheless, even if we admit the European identity as a religious base for pondering, we need to question the content of this religion. Yet, the difference between Christian religion and the Judeo-Christian project is deep on a conceptual level. Christianity defines the synthesis of the new religion according to a Greek-Roman vision of the world or the anthropocentric version of a religion of a typically despotic conception. Thus, the first element, ‘Judeo-’, hides that Christianity is based on opposition to Judaism and particularly to its origins in Asian despotism (Contogeorgis, 2002). Moreover, stress laid on the ‘Judeo- Christian’ concept may be an attempt for the Islam to remind its ‘Judaic’ bases and define itself as a ‘Judeo-Muslim’!

The option favouring the Christian version of the European religion does not contribute to its Judaic origins; it rather reminds the determining reconciliation of the new religion with the Hellenic anthropocentric (small scale) or ethnocentric (large scale) cosmosystem. This reconciliation has been often tested until recently and Europe has paid for

it. Thus, it has no interest in returning to it particularly as it does not facilitate the elaboration of a viable argumentation concerning Russia, as the latter may legitimately claim its Judeo- Christian identity basis.

Indeed, the abovementioned considerations show that if religion is one of the pillars of the European civilization common basis, it is not due to its despotic ‘Judeo-Asian’ origins, yet it is due to its cultural basis coming from its osmosis with the anthropocentric Greek- Roman civilization (Contogeorgis, 2002). From this point of view, the despotic cosmos belongs to a certain history of Europe – not as a whole – but not to its global historical identity or its modern anthropocentric status. Moreover, when looking into the European churches, one realizes that Christian religion has adapted to despotism, has served it, but has not been the cause of its transition to despotic cosmosystem.

From this point of view, Christianity is an element of union or division of the European world according to the cosmosystemic adventures of the latter. Thus, if religion is mentioned relating to European identity, it is not certain that it can support unity under the current circumstances. The insistence on religion could have facilitated an understanding amongst the adepts of different Christian doctrines. Besides, as history has shown that the Christian schism was deeply political, the reunification of Europe will support unity if not understanding amongst Churches. Yet it is as certain that Christianity risks being a factor of exclusion as Europe will no longer be Christian or even not solely Christian.

This means that European Union will be carried out on an anthropocentric basis before turning political. In other words, it will be the result of the anthropocentric meeting of the European peoples and not that of ecclesiastic reconciliation.

As early as the 1960s, R. Aron noticed that the socialist side – Eastern Europe – was merely a version of the West (Aron, 1962). He meant that the bases of genuine socialism were anthropocentric and, we may add, belonged to the same path of transition issued from a small scale anthropocentric cosmosystem, that is, the Greek-Roman world.

The fall of socialism – and state liberalism – has updated the anthropocentric aspect of the European identity, particularly the fact that hence there are no longer two, but one Europe sharing the same socio-economic and political system from the cosmosystemic point of view.

In this new context, the issue of European geography and culture returns to the agenda in a dramatic manner. At the same time, we can see that the European anthropocentric acquis is no longer its privilege as it has become universal.

To overcome chasms caused by the transition from despotism to anthropocentrism and the new European Union following question is raised: is it necessary to bring up the cultural argument including geography to build a political Europe or meeting the newcomers in the polity based Central and Eastern Europe market system? It is precisely this major question that settled the issue on the enlargement criteria fuelling the Union integration wave of ten Central European and Mediterranean countries. Indeed, the cultural argument facilitates the integration of the former socialist countries to the European Union, whether Catholic, Protestant, or Orthodox. The polity argument is based on the cultural element or even on the same geography giving way to anthropocentric harmonization: in economic and political issues and particularly in point of assimilation of fundamental rights and liberties.

The first option acknowledges the existence of a certain unbalance from the point of view of anthropocentrism between the EU countries and the others; yet this unbalance does not disturb the way the Union works. The second option requires that harmonization is an accession presupposition and concludes that it cannot follow integration. This means that the European Union settles the accession conditions to the new countries.

Essentially, this dilemma refers to the European Union internal chasms focused on the issue: what kind of Europe do we want? A rather economic Europe interested in founding an area of free market, or a Europe made up of a well structured political system with its own values and identity with a federal and even a sympolity structure, if possible?

Without solving this issue, the recent enlargement has been more or less directed by the first priority and undoubtedly conditioned by geopolitical considerations. Indeed, the economic borders can go beyond the political borders of the European Union.

The difficulties encountered to have a Constitution for Europe and the strategic priorities relating to a state show the core of the issue, that is, the issue of the European Union borders is essentially connected with the European geography and culture. However, the final decision will be conditioned by geopolitics. Eventually, geopolitics makes reference to

strategic interests of the countries making up the European Union and to the international power relations. The current compromise, enlargement and attempt to build a polity Europe at the same time, show that the Member States have not yet elaborated a clear idea on the future of the European system. Nevertheless, it seems that the partners of the European mission will soon face real issues as the European Union will be compelled to envisage its place worldwide – and thus its relations with the United States – as well as its relations with Russia and Turkey.

2. Geopolitics is the fourth pillar in the process of European construction, the three others being geography, culture, and anthropocentric and polity deepening.

We have already noticed that the political project of Europe is the result of a geopolitical cause: the dramatic change of the international order at the end of WWII leading to a feeling of powerlessness and insecurity throughout Europe, the former mistress of the world. It witnesses the fall of the colonial system and feels the risk of being crushed in the middle of the new bipolar system, a system reserving a secondary place at the same time menacing the liberal system, considering the antagonism with the socialist rival.

Divided by its opposing political and socio-economic systems, Europe cannot afford to play between the two considerable protagonists. The UN power shared by five is there just to witness a definitely past finished. The political Europe sheltered by the United States is compelled to envisage the issue of its borders from the point of view of its ideological/political system.

The fall of the ideological-political bipolarity makes Europe rediscover its own geographical borders and question its own cultural affinities. At the same time, it faces the new international order that is almost unipolar. The research of a new role on the cosmosystemic scene necessarily raises the issue of settling a certain partnership with its former and hence the only ally, the United States.

Right after the fall of the socialist system, the political Europe sees its understanding with the United States as a great opportunity to reject the Soviet Empire and expand its vital space to the Russian borders. The integration of Eastern countries largely responds to this geopolitical priority. Thus, the geo-cultural argument supports perfectly the European Union to lay foot on the core strategic pillars, such as Finland, Poland, South-Eastern European countries, as well as Cyprus and Malta. An internal economic space is created to act as an economic engine of the hard nucleus of the Union.

This enlargement of the European political space raises two questions: one is internal, while the other is external.

The former is related at the same time to its own identity and political balance. The encounter of the political Europe with a former socialist Europe raises the question of its character and finality.

The dilemma of a rather economic or polity Europe reveals an issue on the European Union’s priorities. Should we go to the bottom of anthropocentric acquis and, in this case, take actions of harmonization of the new partners or should we limit ourselves to creating an internal vital space, an endo-polity periphery?

On the other hand, the new cosmosystemic environment characterized by a growing anthropocentric standardization can cause an identity crisis in Europe. Indeed, if the anthropocentric acquis is universal, how can political Europe reaffirm its originality all the more as it cannot express itself with its own national identity?

One can even say that this remark is also valid in point of the will to support its worldwide geostrategic cause. In a bipolar world, the concept of West has served the project for a common identity around the liberal system. In the new unipolar system, the idea of West risks helping to prolonging the dependence of political Europe on the United States, as well as the conflict on a religious basis.

At the moment, research on European identity acquires a capital importance, considering that the reinforcement of European societies’ attachment to the European Union dynamics will eventually result in a reorientation of their vision concerning the institutions of political Europe, the interest to support the will for power worldwide. The European world gets together due to a cosmosystem focused on: a) the continent’s geography; b) the Greek- Roman heritage of the European societies, a unity with the vanguard small scale anthropocentric cosmosystem on the level of construction of the large scale anthropocentric world; c) geopolitical considerations in general. Europe as a country will not be national; it will be geo-cultural and thus polity-oriented. It is thus meant to deny the doctrine of modernity that sees the nation as the sole cultural unit able to provide a meaning and content

to a polity entity and the state as a sole political home of the national act. It is a concept of the country of Europe that can assert itself as compared to the “Other” present from a geopolitical point of view, in this case the United States and even Russia.

The exclusion of Russia from the European Union will not take place as it is not European; it is simply very large and therefore it risks to break internal balances. Thus, the geopolitics of the European Union settles the boundaries of Europe’s frontiers. Yet, geographical and cultural borders of the Old Continent are the external limit of any ambition of political Europe. However, it is not up to them to make a decision on the political borders. It is precisely in this discrepancy that internal and external geopolitics comes up. It is an intervention that is not meant to prevent the European Union from claiming its European identity particularly as polity Europe includes core elements of the geo-cultural pillars defining the concept of Europe.

Nevertheless, geopolitics says that the political borders of Europe cannot under the given circumstances coincide with geographical and cultural borders. This reserve (‘the given circumstances’) is not advisable due to a scientific caution, but due to the fact that the issue is not closed at least on a rhetorical level. We should mention Charles de Gaulle speaking of a Europe including Russia for geopolitical reasons, that is, to counterbalance the United States of America.

I cannot imagine how this project can be carried out at least on a mid-term basis. Yet, on a long term, it is not out of the question particularly if China enters the international scene forcefully and if Europe is endowed with a polity system and a strong identity reference. On the other hand, the fear of a shift of internal power breaking the existing balance within the Union, as well as the issue of strengthening identity, socio-economic element and politics of the polity-oriented Europe can prevent the accession of Turkey or cause regulating enlargements, such as the accession of Ukraine. But in this case, we would no longer be able to envisage a polity-oriented Europe.

In conclusion, cultural Europe is the long-term by-product of the Old Continent based on four pillars: a) geography, b) culture strictly speaking, c) anthropocentric acquis, d) internal and external geopolitics of the European Union.

The issue of the borders of Europe introduces as a prior hypothesis the geography and its cultural historical particularity issued from anthropocentric cosmosystem in general. Yet the final decision on the political frontiers of the European Union will be made each time from

the perspective of geopolitical considerations. As more often than not geopolitics is a primary yet too rough argument, geography and culture will be invited to justify political choices.

Thus, the return to primary sources of European identity will be topical for as long as internal chasms compel political Europe to balance between strengthening polity and the conception of a cowardly market partnership.

Considering these elements, we have to remember the remark according to which elements belonging to culture and identity have not been a priority for the union of Europe unless threatened from the outside.

Consequently, we can assume that the borders of the political Europe will be the result of a synthesis of geo-cultural Europe and geopolitics, that is, a political compromise of the Europeans considering more or less the internal force relations relating to the polity project and the global cosmosystem.

Bibliography

Alphandéry, P. , Dupront, A., La chrétienté et l’idée de croisade, Paris, 1995

Aron, R., Dix-huit leçons sur la société industrielle, Paris, 1962

Cohen, C., Orient et Occident au temps des croisades, Paris, 1983

20

Contogeorgis, Georges, «Les fondements et les limites du multiculturalisme européen », in Maria Manuela Tavares Ribeiro (dir.), Identidade Europeia e Multiculturalismo, Coimbra, 2002

Idem, Histoire de la Grèce, Paris, Hatier, 1992

Idem, « Identité cosmosystémique ou identité nationale ? Le paradigme hellénique », Pôle Sud, 10/1999

Idem, « Identité nationale, identité politéienne et citoyenneté à l'époque de la mondialisation », in Maria Manuela Tavares Ribeiro (dir.), Europa en Mutaçao: Cidadania, Identidades, Diversidade Cultural, Coimbra, 2003

Idem, « Les conditions pragmatologiques de la diffusion de la littérature hellénique en Europe occidentale », in D. Koutras (dir.), Athènes et l’Occident, Athènes 2001

François, Jacques, Les cités de l’Occident romain. Du 1er siècle avant J.-C. au VIe siècle après J.-C. (Documents traduits et commentés par…), Paris, 1992

Heller, Michel, Histoire de la Russie et de son empire, Paris, 1997

Huntington, Samuel, The Clash of Civilization and the Remaking of the World Order, 1996.

Idem, « Du nouvel ordre international. Samuel Huntington et ‘le choc des civilisations’. ‘Civilisation religieuse’ ou cosmosystème ? », Revista de Historia das Ideias, vol. 24/2003

Maalouf, A., Les croisades vues par les Arabes, Paris, 1983

Ribeiro, Maria Manuela Tavares (ed.), Ideias de Europa: que fronteiras, Quarteto, Coimbra, 2004

Vodoff, Vladimir, Naissance de la chrétienté russe, Paris, 1988



[1] In Eurolimes, 9/2010, p. 11-20.

[2] I make reference to the phenomenon of sympolitéia occurring at the ecumenical epoch shortly before the Roman conquest. The most important representatives are the Aetolian and Achaean sympolitéia. We have to notice that the foundations of the European Union resemble the sympolitéia rather than the modern federal structure.

[3] For the concepts of polity, political, cosmosystemic or ecumenical identity and their relation with national identity, see Georges Contogeorgis, Histoire de la Grèce, Paris, Hatier, 1992; «Identité cosmosystémique ou identité nationale? Le paradigme hellénique», Pôle Sud, 10/1999:106-125; and«Identité nationale, identité politéienne et citoyenneté à l'époque de la mondialisation», in Maria Manuela Tavares Ribeiro (dir.), Europa en Mutaçao: Cidadania, Identidades, Diversidade Cultural,Coimbra, 2003:150-174.

[4] Before the anthropocentric implantation of Byzantium into the West, Christianity used to be one of the most important elements for the Hellenic belief, mentality, institution, etc. to the European peoples. Thus, despite the pledging of Latin Europe after the fall of the Roman West, its preferential connection with the Greek world is still preserved through the action of the Church.

[5]Aristotle attributes this difference between the European and the Asian man depending on climate. Europe is cold, Asia is hot, while Greece is midway, having a temperate climate. Focusing his interest on the city, it is obvious that Aristotle makes general remarks that they do not depend on a global theory on the evolution of the world.

[6] Indeed, the city system disappears in the 6th century, when the feudal system appears. See François Jacques, Les cités de l’Occident romain. Du 1er siècle avant J.-C. au VIe siècle après J.-C. (Documents traduits et commentés par…), Paris, 1992

[7] For details on this issue, see « Les conditions pragmatologiques de la diffusion de la littérature hellénique en Europe occidentale », in D. Koutras (dir.), Athènes et l’Occident, Athènes 2001:109- 124

George Contogeorgis and Dimitris N. Chryssochoou, Greek political science on Europe: a scholarly outline


Prologue

This essay is only a partial reflection of the current state of European integration studies in Greece. It is thus neither extensive, nor perhaps representative of the many different scholarly efforts by Greek political scientists to capture the reality of the ‘polity’ that is currently emerging in Europe. Accordingly, what follows sketches a general outline of Greek academic interest in the nature of the evolutionary ‘EU order’, which has managed to combine high levels of segmental autonomy which are non-threatening to national identities, traditions and ways of life, with a sense of unity for the whole. The idea of the essay is to focus less on the microcosm of policy specific analyses and more on some theoretical projections that aim to capture the totality of what has been achieved so far – i.e., the general picture of integration at the turn of the first decade of the 21st century. Eclectic and, by extension, limited as it may be in its scope, the essay also makes the point that Greek scholarship on Europe is a fast-growing intellectual industry which, judging by the amount of work produced over the last decade, has little to be jealous of other, more established academic communities – no need to invent here, as some easily do, yet another instance of Greek ‘exceptionalism’. But what is still in question is the extent to which future Greek-based research on the EU will be investing more on the theory front, especially through collective intellectual synergies, rather than on the –no less exciting or for that matter less crucial– common working arrangements, including both the institutional dynamics and the various policy aspects of the collectivity. Having said that, a final note is in order: the essay does not proceed in any –more or less arbitrary– value-based judgments on the merits and weaknesses of Greek scholarly writings on Europe, but aims at sketching a broader picture –a panoramic but by no means exhaustive portrait– of the themes to which Greek scholars direct their analytical foci and, more broadly, their research interests.

Some theory projections

Greek EU scholarship has been steadily focusing for the last thirty years on the field of policy analysis and sector-based empirical studies, rather than on theory-producing accounts of the integration process – i.e., on what the EU ‘actually’ is and how best to study it; namely, with reference to the ontological and epistemological foundations of Europe’s integrative journey. Put differently, Greek political scientists have been mainly preoccupied with the micro-level –the various parts of the elephant, to recall Puchala’s (1972) colourful metathor–, rather than with the systemic or structural conditions of European polity-building, constitution-making or demos formation. Admittedly, there is nothing wrong with such research preferences, nor theory can be taken as a panacea for good social science. It is equally true, however, that greater emphasis on the theory of European integration –more accurately perhaps, on various combinations of social and political theory, whether normative, reflexive or analytical in kind, would have opened up new and promising horizons for the study of an essentially contested (polycemous), uniquely observed (sui generis) and, by its composite nature, interdisciplinary (myltiperspectival) object of social science enquiry. More than that, a theoretical projection of the EU as a general system –i.e., a polity, a political system or a (quasi)constitutional system– offers the possibility to think about the social and political constitution of a novel form of collectivity or even of a postnational polity in statu nascendi which is called upon to reconcile the ever present quest for the autonomy of the parts with a shared sense of identity for the whole (Athanassopoulou 2008). Such endeavours chime well with the idea of extending the organization of political authority in new areas of collective symbiosis, although such an idea should not be taken as a means for regional state-building. This view accords with Tsatsos’s (2007) account of the EU as ‘a sympolity of states and peoples’ and is indicative of the kind of conceptual synergies normative theory allows in postnational or post-statist directions. Likewise, the concept of ‘synarchy’ advocates a collective system of shared rule based on the idea that the component parts, as co-sovereign units, are capable of co-constituting the general system and co-determining its constitutional nature and dynamics (Chryssochoou 2009).

Such an approach is also linked to the ability of the EU qua general system to organize, project and perform political functions that can sustain and promote the extensive sharing of state sovereignty, without either invalidating the constituent sovereignties or threatening their legitimizing role within the national subsystems. The concept of synarchy refers to a novel form of ‘co-governance’ that does not presuppose the end of the (European) nation-state or for that matter any substantive, lat alone irreversible, loss of its capacity to steer the political community to which its demos –the civic body as a politically self-conscious collectivity– refer. It also brings to the fore a shared perception of states as constituent units with the capacity (and the political will, expressed through national channels of legitimation) to co-exercise sovereign authority, to invest in a commonly formulated law, and to determine the conditions of their collective symbiosis in a convergent and mutually beneficial manner. The whole idea of synarchy thus refers to an organized multiplicity of autonomous units, directing us to a form of governance which accords with a post-statecentric reality of the ‘EU order’, linking together the praxis of co-determination with the idea of ‘organized co-sovereignty’. Resting on the ascent of a co-operative culture among the subunits based on mutually reinforcing perceptions about the organization of collective life, it allows them to acknowledge the idea of synarchy as the basic principle around which a new form of unity is being built: an expression of an advanced sense of political co-ownership.

The notion of a post-statist analogy has attracted the interest of Greek scholars, albeit to a lesser extent as compared with their European counterparts. EU studies in Greece, at least as reflected in –mostly edited– academic textbooks and articles in refereed journals have also experienced the effects of the ‘normative turn’ in EU studies; a turn which has been evident in integration scholarship since the mid-1990s, and which has reached its peak with the insertion of normative social and political theory (and philosophy), as represented in the likes of cosmopolitanism, constructivism, constitutionalism, and (neo)republicanism (Eleftheriadis 2003; Antoniadis 2001; Tsinisizelis 2001; Galariotis 2009; Gofas and Hey 2008; Lavdas and Chryssochoou 2004). This has sparked a lively debate on the transmutations of sovereign statehood, and the development of new understandings on the nature of political authority exercised within a multilevel and multilogical system (Kazakos 2009). This kind of discourse, however, represents a rather small portion of Greek scholarly writings on Europe and focuses on the changing views of state sovereignty, which can now be interpreted as the right of the member polities to be involved in the joint exercise of common competences, while retaining ultimate responsibility in critical decision-making. Hence a new quality in sovereignty relations, evident in Europe’s composite polity (Manitakis 2007, Taylor 2008): even though sovereignty is still being made by the subsystems, the latter are constituted by the general system to which they also belong: their sovereignty becomes an expression of their participation in a larger unit (Taylor, 2003). As a synarchy of entangled sovereignties, the EU directs the dialectics of sovereignty towards a philosophy of governing that reconciles Europe’s political tradition as the cradle of Westphalian sovereignty with the transcendence of sovereign statehood itself. This new dialectic rests on a common learning process, making the EU the most advanced application of the principle of political co-determination.



Rethinking political Europe


A distinctive approach to the study of the EU, which introduced from early on the concept of the ‘sympolity’ (Contogeorgis, 1998, 2000, 2004, 2010) to define political Europe, distinguishes its relevance to the structure and evolution of ancient Greek sympolities, referring to the environment of the city-state. This correlation allows for a more profound conceptual understanding of the EU and, furthermore, distinguishes it from federal forms of polity, whose origins can be traced to an earlier evolutionary stage, when anthropocentric statocentrism was not yet solidified. Central to this line of thinking is the assumption that the present-day EU represents a ‘political system without a state’ or, put another way, a ‘stateless sympolity’.

It is obviously not the EU’s essential structure as a sympolity which inhibits the deepening of its political system and, with it, its internal or systemic cohesion, but the still incomplete anthropocentric condition of our era in general (Contogeorgis, 2007). At this stage, the political system is confined to and is identified by the concept of the state, which dissociates itself from the society of citizens and downgrades its role to a private one. The question here is not that a unified European demos is lacking, but that the very idea of the “demos” does not exist today. This view is harsh criticism of contemporary political science, which calls political systems as a whole ‘democracies’ simply on the grounds that their political personnel has popular legitimacy, although in every other sense it completely possesses the qualities of both mandator and mandate (Contogeorgis, 2005).

This concept of the political system, transplanted into political Europe, also falls short in terms of popular legitimization of its political personnel. This is reasonable, since today’s European sympolity depends largely upon the nature of the political systems of its member states, i.e. upon their leaders who possess political authority and naturally have no intention of relinquishing it to the society of citizens.

From this perspective, the weak structure of the EU polity is due to the emerging statocentrism which demands that the leadership of the member states define the European political landscape and determine their political personnel. Moreover, political Europe’s persistence in giving priority to one purpose of politics by focusing almost exclusively on the economic “market” results in the imbalance in the relationship between society of citizens, the state and the “market,” in favour of the latter. This imbalance must be attributed to the total exclusion of the society of citizens from the political system. Put a different way, rendering the purpose of the “market” the primary political purpose of the state –and particularly of the EU– conceals not the existence of a weak European identity, but the non-democratic or even representative structure of their political systems, referring back to the early anthropocentric stage of the modern cosmosystem.

From another point of view, this rendering of the interests of the “market” as the ultimate goal of political Europe is consistent with the EU member states’ choice of approaching politics through the prism of power or rather of force, and not as a sphere for the realization of freedom. It is precisely because the construction of the member states is based on the strict dichotomy between society and politics that the sympoliteian character of the EU becomes an instrument in the hands of their leaders to manage the European public space, putting their individual –state– interests before the common European interest. This becomes all the more evident in the way in which European citizenship is perceived. In the EU political system, the citizen is just an incomplete political subject, as in the case of the state, indeed whose status depends on his quality of citizen of the member state. It is incomplete not because the concept of the European demos is lacking. The modern citizen is in any case considered to be a private individual, a subject of the state, who is merely called upon to legitimize the power of the political personnel. For modernity in general it is inconceivable that the citizen should participate in the political system. Nevertheless, the European citizen possesses limited legitimizing capability, since in this case the state retains the relative authority.

On the question of the fundamental features that form the concept of European identity, this line of thinking ascribes them to the concept of “politeian patriotism (Contogeorgis, 2003, 2004). “Politeian” patriotism defines the set of parameters which comprise the nature of anthropocentric life, i.e. of societies living in freedom. These parameters refer back to the weighty Hellenic-Roman tradition and, therefore, to the consciousness of a common cultural heritage which developed essentially in Europe, and, in fact, was the backdrop of the modern European socio-economic and political condition. The distinguishing feature of European “politeian” patriotism is founded in the cultural pluriformity. In this sense, it is not contrary to nor does it negate the fundamental properties of collective national identity. Therefore, it is not meant to reproduce the fundamentals mark of the nation and to lead to the creation of a new super-nation this time, nor will it be post-national. The separate identities, such as those that refer to the nation or those that are the result of various cultural differentiations (ethnicity, religion, geography, etc.) will be part and parcel of the overall European collective identity. In these differentiations, it will reserve a considerable degree of political autonomy, fulfilling its homologous freedom. Therefore, according to this line of reasoning, it is not the lack of a European identity or its sympoliteian stucture that inhibits the deepening of political Europe, but its classification in the stage of emerging statocentrism that characterizes the modern anthropocentric cosmosystem and, in this context, its strictly pre-democratic and, as a matter of fact, pre-representative character. It stands to reason, then, that the concept of “politeian” patriotism is clearly broader than Habermas’s so-called “constitutional” patriotism and, in any case, capable of conveying a more holistic understanding of identity, instead of the restrictive reference to the simple political system (Contogeorgis, 2003, 2004, 2007). Therefore, political Europe is neither post-statocentic nor post-national, but a component of the statocentric period that refers back to the particular conditions being experienced by societies of a significant historical space, Europe. The post-statocentric stage is ascribed to the next, ecumenical stage in the development process of the anthropocentric cosmosystem, which the modern world is a far cry from. The state of the ecumenical period, the cosmopolis, a cosmo-state, is meant to host the heritage (state, nation, etc.) of the statocentric period, including the sympolity, not negating it. Nevertheless, the sympoliteian phenomenon is different in the statocentric stage from that in the ecumenical period, as seen in the Greek paradigm (Contogeorgis, 2006).

All of the above lead to the conclusion that the deepening of political Europe and the reorientation of its political purpose –from the interests of the “market” to the common interest of its constituents peoples– can be achieved through a new equilibrium in the relationship between society, politics and the “market,” which will be reflected in a shared European identity. This requires the reconstitution of the society of citizens as a demos, i.e. as an institutional and particularly component factor of the polity. This is the evolution of the political system, from the present pre-representative period to the representative phase. Even if this occurs only within the context of the nation-state, the issues and purpose of the politics of the European Union will have changed radically.

The evolution of political Europe away from being the subject of the world system toward a political system in its own right will transfer it from the scope of International Relations to that of political science. This will heat up and especially reorient interest in studying its new example. However, the main core of the scientific community will continue to focus on research into the institutional environment, functions and policies of the EU, although the study of its character as a political system will begin gradually. The Greek scientific community is also focusing on the study of Greece’s position in the common European destiny and also as a policy-building exercise. Nevertheless, the study of this question has inevitably noticeably shifted due to the changes in Europe and developments in the broader cosmosystemic environment. This is supported further by a widespread recognition on the part of Greek public opinion that political Europe is an integral, if not an organic, component of Greece.




Lisbon’s scholarly effect

The rejection of the Constitutional Treaty by the French and Dutch publics in May and June 2005, respectively, represented a major blow to the cause of EU constitutionalism. More than that, it heralded a profound and prolonged, yet not entirely unexpected, political crisis of the integration process, which was conveniently termed, if not camouflaged, by EU officials as a ‘reflection period’. The Constitutional Treaty was eventually replaced by a Reform Treaty, widely known as the Treaty of Lisbon, as it was signed in the Portuguese capital by EU leaders on 13 December 2007. No doubt, it was viewed by many as a relatively modest step toward the full constitutionalization of the formal treaty framework. It was also asserted, however, that the new Treaty, which came into force on 1 December 2009 after a rather controversial process due to the Polish and Check presidents’ initial reservations, and mainly thanks to a second Irish referendum on 12 June 2008, is expected to contribute to a more balanced form of decision-making in the enlarged EU of 27, coupled by a strengthening of the EU’s institutional capacity to act in a more coherent manner in its external relations (although the initial provision for an EU Foreign Affairs Minister was not included with the final text).

In general, there were a series of primarily nationally-driven causes for rejecting the Constitutional Treaty which produced an ideologically incoherent but discernible voting block against the constitutional project, whose core institutional reforms were eventually to survive in the Lisbon Accords. This is not to imply that greater democracy in the general system can only be an outcome of substantive constitutional revisions, but rather that the road to a more democentric union rests largely upon the extent to which the political preferences and expectations of the national governing elites are convergent or divergent. At the same time, it needs to be stressed that the French and Dutch voters exercised their equally democratic right to oppose the coming into force of a major treaty reform, to which they –much like their fellow EU citizens– had little democratic input; for the Constitutional Treaty was ultimately determined by Europe’s political leaders, rather than by a genuine European constituent power. Be that as it may, were the Treaty to have been ratified, the fact would remain that the EU would have still rested (more) on a dynamic set of international treaty-based rules, albeit of an integrative nature and orientation, rather than on an elaborate system of constitutional checks and balances designed to organize political authority within a non-state polity. With the coming into force of the Lisbon Treaty, a quasi-constitutional ordering had emerged, albeit of a (much) less federalist kind as compared with a conventional (or state-like) constitutional settlement. In a word, the new Treaty was not in the end meant to take the EU political system toward a genuinely postnational state of play (Habermas, 2001).

In many respects, the Lisbon Treaty represented the long-awaited response of the EU to a protracted political crisis. Most prominently perhaps, it classified the areas of actual or potential EU involvement into exclusive competences, shared competences and supporting actions. Other pro-integrationist measures, including those relating to the EU’s democratic life and the abolition of the three-pillar structure, include: an extension of QMV in some 40 new instances (including the area of police and judicial co-operation in criminal matters, with Britain and Ireland having secured the right to pick and choose whether to participate therein, and with the ECJ gaining broad oversight for the first time); a single legal personality for the EU; a full-time standing President of the European Council (elected for a 2,5 year term, renewable once); a smaller Commission with fewer Commissioners than there are states, from 2014 (a rotation system would apply every five years; each country having a Commissioner for 10 years out of the first 15, although this decision has been suspended following a decision by EU leaders in December 2008 with the view to facilitating Ireland in the conduct of a second referendum); a strengthening of the EP’s co-legislative rights; an enhanced role for national parliaments in their dealings with Brussels –in particular, with the Commission– with reference to the application of subsidiary. But there was no mention of an EU Foreign Affairs Minister (instead, the Treaty merged the post of the CFSP High Representative with the Commissioner for External Relations), neither was an integrated treaty text replacing all earlier Treaties. Moreover, all reference to EU symbols, including the term ‘constitution’ were dropped (flag, anthem, motto) while it made a legal binding reference to the Charter of Fundamental Rights but without including it in the formal treaty framework, as had the aborted Constitutional Treaty – to mention but a few instances of constitutional regression.

The prospect of a Reform Treaty to replace the stillborn ‘Constitution’, combined with the effects of the EU’s massive enlargement in the mid-2000s, was meant to renew the interest of Greek academia in the EU project (Tsatsos 2007; Maravegias and Tsinisizelis 2007; Ioakimidis 2005, 2008; Stephanou 2006; Tsinisizelis, Fatouros and Christodoulidis 2006, Xenakis and Tsinisizelis 2006; Chryssochoou, Tsinisizelis, Ifantis, Stavridis and Xenakis 2009; Pelagidis and Xenakis 2009). The general assessment to be drawn from such scholarly writings (also with regard to the political nature of the Reform Treaty) is that recent treaty reforms represented a compromised structure among divergent and, more often than not, conflicting national interests, accommodating the demands of the more sceptical actors. Too many reservations, opt-outs, references to states’ prerogatives in relation to competences and reform practices, along with a postponement of the double majority system of the Constitutional Treaty, deprived the EU from consolidating its political identity and failed to signal a shift in the basis of legitimation. The dominant view of the Lisbon Accords offered by Greek scholars has been that such reforms were driven by a rather moderate, pragmatic and, at the level of political symbolism, less enthusiastic revisionary strategy, largely at the expense of a democratic visionary project to re-ignite the public’s interest in EU affairs.

At a time when the EU retains its character as a via media between different forms of polity, governance and representation –an assumption that is commonly shared among many Greek political scientists and constitutional lawyers–, the initial prospects for endowing Europe’s politically fragmented demos with a common civic identity that would nurture a sense of European ‘civicness’ or ‘demos-hood’ –along the lines of Viroli’s (2001) ‘republican patriotism’ writ large– did not in the end prove realistic enough or, from a different angle, desirable enough. Instead, the rather unceremonious outcome of the Lisbon reforms was greeted by many Greek analysts as an indication, if not a conviction, that the exclusion of citizens from the drafting stages –i.e., the absence of a participatory and deliberative method of large-scale constitution-making or, at least, of constitutional engineering– has been largely at the expense of elevating their status to a system-steering agency: to become, in other words, the decisive agents of civic change by means of enhancing their horizontal integration within a larger pluralist order composed of entangled arenas for social and political action.

The revival of scholarly interest in EU studies by Greek academics, at least as far as the larger picture of integration is concerned – i.e., either in terms of exploring the normative qualities of the enlarged EU polity or in terms of attempting an assessment of the defining or constitutive features of the general system as an organized multiplicity of states and demoi– was linked with an attempt to explore the new dialectic between sovereignty and integration; a dialectic which carried the implication of an explicit right to political co-determination, but failed to produce a credible normative commitment on the part of the national governing elites to democratizing the general system. Much like previous treaty reforms, as the majority of scholars have asserted, the Lisbon outcome, for all its provisions regarding the legally binding status of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, its references to representative democracy, the inclusion of a citizens’ (agenda) initiative right –to request the Commission to submit a legislative proposal upon the collection of at least one million signatures– and the envisaged role for the member state legislatures in the implementation of the subsidiarity principle, did not represent a cause célèbre for a more civic-minded process of union. Rather, it was yet another cautiously negotiated deal of ‘partial offsets’ to key democratic problems facing the EU, for what it failed to produce was not only a common democratic vision per se, but also a belief that such a vision remains without reach, at least in the foreseeable future.


Capturing the trend

For the last three decades, since the country’s acquisition of full membership status, Greek academics have been largely concerned with the question of Europe and the country’s role in it. This is a rather easy conclusion to draw, as this has been the case with the vast majority of countries which became members of this uniquely observed, dynamic and multilogical union. There are, however, at least two developments –perhaps striking for the older generation, but almost self-evident to younger people– that have taken place since the mid-1990s which merit our attention: first, the EU is no longer seen as an extension of Greece’s external relations, but rather as an integral part of the Greek polity’s structural and functional properties. EU politics no longer represent an autonomous sphere of activity or intellectual concern (something which does not contradict the continuing interest of Greek analysts in the country’s standing in EU external affairs), as was mainly the case during the first decade of its membership, when the country has often been accused of an introverted perception of EU affairs due to a concealed intergovernmentalism in the conduct of its European policy – a perception which led to an understanding of Greek-EU relations throughout the 1980s and up to the mid-1990s as a case of ‘uneasy interdependence’ (Tsinisizelis and Chryssochoou 1996).

This development has had a direct impact on the evolution of the Greek polity: being a relatively ‘small’ state, Greece has often in the past found itself in a rather delicate (and for some observers awkward) position between conceding –less critically put, delegating or entrusting– sovereign authority to the common system and retaining its freedom of action (or political independence) from external (mainly policy and norm-orienting) interference, especially in sensitive national issues concerning the transfer of competences that were traditionally located to the ‘hard core’ of the Greek state. But the dynamics of integration, especially after the country’s entry into the eurozone in the early 2000s, have acted as a call for institutional adjustment – for what has been conveniently described, mostly in lack of a better term, as the ‘Europeanization’ of domestic policy and public sector structures (Lavdas 1998; Tsoukalis 1999; Ioakimidis 2000; Paraskevopoulos 2001, Featherstone and Radaelli 2003; Featherstone and Papadimitriou 2008). In the Greek case, major attitudinal changes in favour of further integration, along with the emerging constellation of power between new and old political parties (and between the two leading parties which still account for a comfortable, albeit declining, majority of the national vote) portray the image of a liberal democracy which strives to break away from long-standing structural deficiencies.

Turning to the second development, EU studies, as taught at university level, have grown –and are still growing– strong in Greece despite the lack either of a strong international relations or, more generally, a political science scholarly tradition. Arguably, for a country in which the domain of legal studies (and in particular the study of public or constitutional law) has been the norm almost since the inception of the modern Greek state, both in terms of scholarly as well as professional prestige, the dynamism of EU studies at undergraduate and, increasingly, at graduate level, constitutes a rather remarkable achievement, at least from the perspective of higher education institutional pluralism (the emergence of new regional universities focusing on the social sciences) and ‘disciplinary’ progress (research conducted by Greek political scientists). Moreover, studying Europe in Greece is increasingly becoming part of an interdisciplinary academic laboratory, which is indicative not only of the current intra- and inter-departmental synergies taking place in Greek universities, but also of the prospects of learning about Europe through the insights of several socio-scientific lenses.

This second development is linked to the first concerning the gradual transformation of the country’s European profile over the last fifteen years: the promotion of European integration studies at university level, especially in a country with a remarkably high percentage of undergraduate students, combined with the efforts made by such institutes and organizations as the Hellenic University Association for European Studies, the Hellenic Centre for European Studies, the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy, the Centre for European Constitutional Law, the Institute of European Integration and Policy, the Greek Centre for European Studies and Research, the various Jean Monnet Chairs, Centres and European Documentation Centres, as well as the Commissions’ and Parliament’s offices in Greece, to mention but a few, are also important means of further enhancing Greece’s communautaire image, whether or not of a conventional or postmodern federalist direction.


Concluding note

For a polity that still rests on an international treaty and lacks a self-conscious demos, the transition ‘from democracies to democracy’ is neither easy nor linear. Although recent trends in EU theorizing perceive the general system as being closer to a statecentric as opposed to a state-like formation, this is far from an ideal state, as it hinders the emergence of a European demos. Like any other polity that aspires to becoming a democracy, the EU has to invent its own framework of participatory politics, while ensuring that its political outcomes informed by a principled public discourse. Until then, it will continue to be confronted with the reality of multiple polities and demoi. As for the hopes and agonies of the Greek demos, in a manner not entirely dissimilar to its celebrated ancient counterpart, it will also have to cope with the reality of an enlarged, more competitive, less cohesive, and certainly less egalitarian union.




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