Kathimerini Greece Newsroom
At the stroke of midnight in Brussels, Britain will officially leave the European Union, setting off negotiations in which London will seek to gain as many benefits as it can from the Union. At the same time, it will work toward bilateral agreements with EU member-states and countries outside the bloc.
As the British prime minister is in a hurry for the transition period to end on December 31, an agreement will have to be reached by mid-October, so as to leave time for this to be translated into the official languages of the Union’s member-states and to be ratified by their parliaments. Brexit, then, is not the end, a happy divorce after 45 years of coexistence, it is the beginning of an end that remains unpredictable.
The Brexit brotherhood did not brief their followers that Britain would have to negotiate from a very weak position, that the agreement with the EU would have to satisfy all member-states, that “third countries” would be able to press for ever greater concessions, seeing as it is Britain that needs immediate solutions, not them. Today, over 50 percent of Britain’s trade is with the EU. This encourages every member-state to use the EU’s huge mass to its own ends in the negotiations, while allowing countries like the United States, China, Russia, India and Turkey to make ever greater demands in order to help Britain recover what it might lose in terms of greater difficulties in trading with the EU. With the international economic climate worsening, a single country becomes even more vulnerable to pressure.
Britain will, of course, remain a most important country in Europe and the world. But it will have to count its friends. And here the traditional friendship between Greece and Britain is most valuable. It was already apparent in the past few years (with numerous bilateral contacts, government decisions and various initiatives) that the two countries wish to strengthen their relationship, to invest in the strong foundations built not only by successive governments but through centuries of cooperation and coexistence of their people.
Just as Britain needs support within the EU and new potential in its relations with Greece, so Greece needs Britain to remember their long friendship and complicated past, to support Athens and Nicosia in their own difficult negotiations in the region. To the benefit of both sides and the relationship between them.