Thursday, 2 January 2014

'Britain and the Greek Colonels' reviewed in 'Southeast European and Black Sea Studies'

A review of the book by Dr. Konstantina E. Botsiou was recently published in Southeast European and Black Sea Studies, Vol. 13, No. 4, 2013.

Dr. Konstantina E. Botsiou is an Associate Professor of Modern History and International Politics and Vice Rector for Financial Planning at the University of Peloponnese. 

Here's an excerpt:

'In the mid-1970s, the European Community emerged as a hub organization for the promotion of democracy and the protection of human rights. It was widely considered suitable for the role by virtue of its successful democratization and integration since the Second World War. Contemporary events only reinforced that political image. The Helsinki Final Act of August 1975 reflected a mutual East–West intention of rapprochement based on the respect of territorial integrity and human rights. At the same time, Western Europe was celebrating the restoration of democracy in three Mediterranean countries, Greece (1974), Portugal (1974–1975) and Spain (1975–1976). All three of them hastened to apply for EC-membership right after the collapse of dictatorial rule, clearly linking the stabilization of democratic governance with participation in ‘democratic Europe’. Accordingly, the fulfilment of their integration hopes until the mid-1980s underlined the EC’s willingness to accept the linkage, as was to be verified again a few years later in the European Union’s post-Cold War ‘Eastern enlargement’.
The evolution of Europe to the status of a global player in issues of democracy and human rights renders all the more interesting the investigation of defining moments as well as occasions when either the EC/EU or single European states were confronted with critical dilemmas as to the prioritization of ‘democracy’ in the shaping of foreign policy. Both characteristics apply to the period right before the democratization wave in the South of the 1970s. For quite a few years, historians and political scientists have been chiefly examining the transition to democracy as a manifestation of the expanding influence of pro-European forces. More light needs to be shed, however, on the opposite direction, too; namely on the impact of dictatorial rule upon the democratization agenda of various West European countries and, ultimately, the European Community itself. Such research questions are crucial in Alexandros Nafpliotis’ book titled Accommodating the Junta in the Cold War: Britain and the Colonels.
The title is telling of the author’s aim to analyse the rationale behind Britain’s search of a modus vivendi with the Greek military regime between 1967 and 1974. To achieve this goal, he explores a broad spectrum of London’s international objectives and commitments. According to a central theme of the book – originally a doctoral dissertation concluded at the London School of Economics and Political Science – the military dictatorship in Greece unfolded while Britain was rapidly losing economic strength and political leverage both in Europe as well as in the Eastern Mediterranean. Not surprisingly, national security interests and the centrality of NATO are considered to have far outweighed concerns over the political ‘anachronism’ of the junta. The stability of Greece as a NATO-partner was deemed more necessary than interference in Greek affairs for the sake of democratization. [...]'

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