Theodoropoulos, Byron: Aspects of Accesion

BYRON THEODOROPOULOS

Ambassador, Secretary General of the Greek Foreign Ministry

In the early morning hours of April 4, 1979 the negotiations for Greece’s accession to the European Community were successfully concluded. Almost four years elapsed since Greece submitted her request for accession; nearly three years since negotiations were formally opened. Νοw Ι look back in awe at the obstacles that had to be overcome: the initial negative opinion of the European Commission; the attempts at “globalization” of the candidatures of Greece, Portugal and Spain; the complications which might have resulted from a new Mediterranean “package”; the open or covert misgivings caused in some circles by the state of Greek-Turkish relations; the countless specific problems in all sectors which had to be solved during the long-winded and arduous negotiations; not to speak of the pressure imposed οn the Greek administration to produce in time adequate data and convincing arguments to support our positions. This was certainly the most complex negotiation our country has ever conducted. It reached from the highest level of the Government striving to secure the political consent of each one of the member-states, down to the lower technocratic echelons haggling about import quotas or vegetable prices.

As one of the many participants in this exercise Ι am of course inclined to feel satisfaction because this negotiation has finally come to a successful end. Ι believe that we have struck a fair, balanced deal. This is of course; the assessment from the limited vantage point of the negotiator; an assessment which can be challenged, refuted or justified. But after all, let us not lose sight of the fact that this long negotiation dealt with one subject only, namely the transitional arrangements which will last up to seven years after accession. The basic Treaties constituting the Community were not under negotiation and the “acquis communautaire” as such stands unchanged.

Leaving, therefore, aside the short-term problems of the transitional period (without implying that they are insignificant) one should at this moment, when the signature of the Accession Treaty is imminent, rather turn to the long-term aspects of accession. A great deal has already been said and written on this matter, and it is certainly not my intention to resume here all the pros and cons of a permanent and organic link of Greece to the European Community. Ι only wish to inject in this debate some thoughts which may be pertinent to the long-term problems.

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