Opinion (Mark Mazower, a professor of history at Columbia University): “This is hardly the first time that to understand Europe’s future, you need to turn away from the big powers at the center of the continent and look closely at what is happening in Athens. For the past 200 years, Greece has been at the forefront of Europe’s evolution.
“In the 1820s, as it waged a war of independence against the Ottoman Empire, Greece became an early symbol of escape from the prison house of empire.
“Over the next century, the radically new combination of constitutional democracy and ethnic nationalism that Greece embodied spread across the continent, culminating in “the peace to end all peace” at the end of the First World War, when the Ottoman, Hapsburg, and Russian empires disintegrated and were replaced by nation-states.
“It is ironic, then, that Greece was in the vanguard of resistance to the Nazis, too. In the winter of 1940-41, it was the first country to fight back effectively against the Axis powers, humiliating Mussolini in the Greco-Italian war while the rest of Europe cheered.
“Only a few years after Hitler’s defeat, Greece found itself in the center of history again, as a front line in the cold war.
“Greece was an emblem of a new phase in its history. The fall of its military dictatorship in 1974 not only brought the country full membership in what would become the European Union; it also …prefigured the global democratization wave of the 1980s and ’90s…
“The European Union was supposed to shore up a fragmented Europe, to consolidate its democratic potential and to transform the continent into a force capable of competing on the global stage. It is perhaps fitting that one of Europe’s oldest and most democratic nation-states should be on the new front line, throwing all these achievements into question. For we are all small powers now, and once again Greece is in the forefront of the fight for the future.”
My Comment: This approach is more akin to the opinion of a foreteller, such as the Greek “Delphic oracle,” than to the scientific approach. But today it is clear to everyone that unless the EU overcomes the natural tendency of each member state to take care only of itself and does everything possible to preserve and consolidate the union by moving towards a single government, above all national and economic contradictions, Europe will cease to exist. Only the final decision that there is no other way will give the world an example of complete future unity and will bring the EU out of crisis.