Greece still coping with social instability and serious economic deficit took over today the semestrial EU presidency, one of the most important events of the mandate being the European elections this May. Due to the increasing climate of uncertainties about the economic future of the Eurozone and widespread Euroscepticism, the next months are an important test for the unity of Europe.
Under the motto: 'United we sail further', the priorities of the Greek presidency, presented on the official website since the end of the year, are focused on growth and jobs, creating the conditions for the banking union and coping with illegal migration and a growth oriented towards mobility in the area of freedom, security and justice. These objectives were already on the agenda of previous presidents.
Greece brings to the agenda its own priority, the creation of an integrated maritime policy for the EU. This covers the domain of maritime spatial planning, fisheries, alternative energies and one of the most proficient domain for the economy of Greece, tourism. The last year, tourism recorded an impressive number of 17.8 million tourists, bringing a 12.5 billion EUR. to the economy. The Greek officials are optimistic about the perspective of negotiating a debt deal till the end of the presidency, on 30 June.
During the official ceremonies today, a 18-hour ban of protests was imposed, and around 2,000 policemen are expected to be at work the entire day. The majority of left or right groups that are usually protesting will respect the ban, with the exception of some far-left organization that already announced the mobilization for a rally in Athens.
Alex Tsipras, leader of the main opposition party, Syriza - left - announced its absence from the official ceremonies scheduled in Athens, as a message of open disagreement with the policies of the current government.
Even though the chances to obtain tremendous results in such a short time and given the fact that many EU politicians will be busy to convince their electorate at home for a new mandate, this 6-month presidency gives Greece a symbolical chance to improve its image abroad. The economic problems of the last years, and the increasing influence of the far-right, as well as the resuscitation of various far-left groups created dramatic problems for the perception of Greece in Europe. The next six months can create many interesting image and diplomatic opportunities for the future of the country.
Here is the logo presentation animation of the Greek Presidency: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s63ZLujZ8ds