The Greek crisis – better known under the acronym GREXIT, therefore the blow Athens would grant the continent, more precisely to the EU, by its financial bankruptcy, develops, besides its immediate stake (the exit of Greece from the Euro area or its rescuing with a huge stake), some of the features of the power balance in Europe.
The first issue that arises in such approach brings a key question: can we still speak today of a European balance, when the arrangements established post-Cold War refer to the old continent as part of the larger Euro-Atlantic space, from Vancouver to Vladivostok?
Without making any massive references to history, we must note three things. The first of them was that, until WW1, the European balance was synonymous with the idea of global balance, due to the fact that the colonial empires of the European Grand Powers actually covered the entire globe. The USA were withdrawn into some sort of isolation that turned the Western emisphere into its privileged domain (the Monroe doctrine) and, in this direction, they actually acted contrary to the European power balance, either, especially, against Spain, or, similarly, against other powers of the old continent.
The end of WW imposed the United States as a grand-dimension player in what was called global order 1.0, of Liberal orientation and, undoubtedly, a global one (managed by means of the Nations’ League, an idea by American President Wilson).
The rejection by the US Senate of the Peace Treaty in Versailles (1920) turned the interwar period – due to American isolationism – into a short break until the second World War. Without the USA, two other European grand powers, England and France, were unable to assure fluency in the circumstances of the new world order – the lack of resources, first of all, as well as the lack of political will – as its amplitude exceeded the old continent in its entirety. Germany’s ascension in Europe rose the issue of the European balance in global terms, which led to WW2 and the engagement of the US in its course (starting in December 1941). The evolution and the end of WW2 gave a formal definition in constructing the Liberal global order 2.0 to the existence of an extra-European couple of grand powers (the USA and the USSR), that struggled during a half of a century over domination in the system. The grand American liberal power sent troops to Europe to block its domination by the USSR (almost half a milion soldiers and nuclear weapons with medium range of action or tactical nuclear weapons) and won this competition. The end of the Cold War – registered in 1990 – 1991, once Soviet Communism imploded in Eastern Europe and these states moved took sides with the West, and later by the fall of USSR, that installed what is called Pax Americana systemic mono-polarity – therefore, assuring global hegemony, to which the European balance of power is a component part.
The second “file” that needs to be discussed is that of the situation of Europe during the Cold War and the situation of the traditional power balance upon the continent. It was actually a domination on Europe by the two grand powers, the USA and the USSR, sanctioned in dividing the old continent into spheres of influence by an Iron Curtain that fivided the system into two different lagers, a Liberal one and a Communist one. The situation was proved by the notes, taken in January 1989, by the notes taken in January 1989 by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s adviser on foreign politics regarding the President’s opinions while returning from the reunion of the “Trilaterala” group, in the same month. According to these notations, Gorbachev had said that “Kisa (Henri Kissinger) hinted at the idea of a USSR-US condominium over Europe. He was hinting that Japan, Germany, Spain, and South Korea were on the rise, and so, let us make an agreement so that the ‘Europeans do not misbehave.’ We should work on this range of issues also, but in such a way that it would not leak, because in Europe they are most afraid of that what they understand the Reykjavik summit means. And if you remember, in Reykjavik they saw an effort at conspiracy between the USSR and the USA over Europe.” It must be mentioned that in Reykjavik (in October 1986), during the Gorbachev-Reagan summit, the two grand powers perfected the so-called “INF treaty” (it is to be mentioned as an aside that both partners accuse one another of having violated the stipulations of this treaty, as a sign that one of the major stakes of the Ukrainian crisis is represented by the domination / co-domination upon the old continent). INF treaty stipulated that both the USA and the USSR would withdraw their medium range missiles from Europe and established a maximum number of 100 curved missiles for each partner. The high-level reunion in the capital of Iceland showed both sides that, regardless of disagreements in various files, they are able to cooperate and they are ready to compromise, which stirred the suspicion of Europeans, fearful of an agreement concerning them.
The third “file” that should be considered in all its complexity, to identify the right answer for the question we keep asking ourselves – that kind of a power balance is needed in tomorrow’s Europe? – is that of China’s economical and influence growth in the last three decades.