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Opinions

The Weaknesses of the International System

First came the Common Market, which evolved into the European Union.

The integration of Europe was then followed by globalization, the commercial unification of the World.

The advantages these unions offered were enormous.

In Europe, besides the commercial benefit, there was another, perhaps more important advantage: France and Germany, which had fought with each other so many times, triggering world wars, would henceforth solve their problems peacefully.

Greece, in geopolitical terms, also benefited from its accession to the EU. Freed from its Balkan image, it became Europe’s eastern border.

Globalization, therefore, opened up labor markets in countries that were excluded from foreign investment, raising the standard of living of their peoples, while bringing abundant products to developed countries at low prices.

It was mainly a win-win.

And then suddenly, the coronavirus came and put the concept of globalization in serious doubt.

The virus found fertile soil, squeezing in through open borders. It was transmitted instantly from country to country and from continent to continent.

And so what started in November in one country, China, has turned into a global pandemic.

This is because today there are no truly independent states. Countries are not isolated islands.

Today, there is interdependence between them.

And this, in the phase that the virus is in, complicates things.

But even before the coronavirus, globalization was in serious doubt. The rapid transfer of production from developed to underdeveloped countries had caused a major upheaval in the labor market.

That’s where Trump’s victory largely rested. In nationalism. In closing the border. In the pursuit of national interest above all else – it did not matter that the USA always pursued only its own interests; Trump knows the power of perceptions.

And so today, in the era of the coronavirus, there is a race to restrict travel between countries.

To close borders.

Countries such as Germany, the EU’s leading state, has closed its borders for thirty days, thus violating every rule of the Schengen Agreement.

It also refuses to sell coveted products such as masks and respirators to other EU countries.
The subject of masks and respirators is interesting.

Even before the Covid-19 rollout began, China produced half of the world’s masks.

When the virus broke out, China’s companies increased their production – but China bought all of the goods made and, in addition, bought a large number of respirators from overseas.

The result is that there are not enough of these life-saving products and machines for other countries, such as the United States.

But it’s not just Germany and China – France has followed suit.

Thus, at this critical juncture, it’s every country for itself, revealing major weaknesses of the international system.

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I wish to begin by thanking The National Herald for highlighting the significance of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ recent visit (‘Ideas for Building on the Success of Mitsotakis’ Visit,’ May 25, 2022).

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