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From «Pax Ottomanica» to «Pax Europaea»

The growth and decline of a Greek village’s micro-economy

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Dimitrios Konstadakopulos

The macroeconomic development of south-eastern Europe has been profoundly affected not only by the region’s major historical events – for example, liberation from the Ottoman Empire, the outbreak of civil wars, and the birth of new nations – but also by global events, such as the world-wide conflicts of the twentieth century, and the recent transnational processes of globalisation and European integration. The rationale of this book is to employ a comprehensive micro-history – that is, the history of one particular community: in this case, the village of Tsamantas, in north-western Greece – as a means of providing a detailed picture that will permit extrapolation to a wider context. Situated in one of the most isolated parts of the region of Epirus, Tsamantas has a complex history and a rich folk culture. At times, it has been a textbook example of how decision-making within a community can impact upon the success of the local economy. Its inhabitants have been rational problem-solvers, with a sense of what is in their family’s best interests, rather than passive victims of circumstance, and their choices at critical points in the village’s history have resulted either in growth or decline. The author focuses his groundbreaking analysis on these choices, drawing upon publications, archived materials, and illuminating oral accounts of local events.
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Chapter 9: Pax Europaea: Life within the European Union

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← 296 | 297 → CHAPTER 9

Pax Europaea: Life within the European Union

1981 was a milestone in the history of Greece. On the 1 January, after a twenty-year wait as an associate member of the EEC, it was granted full membership of the Community and began to benefit at last from the advantages that this bestowed. One of the most significant was that integration within the Community heralded the start of the country’s Europeanisation,1 through the adoption of a model of governance reflecting the values, norms and principles of the EU system and its other member states. But of paramount importance for most ordinary Greeks was the fact that membership was perceived as both a means of safeguarding the recently restored democratic institutions, and a potential solution to the nation’s mounting economic problems. Benefits were expected at the individual level, too: farmers, for example, were anticipating improvements to their standard of living through generous subsidies, and the attainment of unrestricted access to the Common Market for the sale of their agricultural produce.

Membership brought challenges as well as opportunities, and one of the drawbacks for Greece – as for Spain, Portugal, Ireland and southern Italy – was its geographical location at the periphery of Europe, away from the centre of economic activity. Much of this activity takes place within an arch-shaped zone stretching from the southern half of the United Kingdom, through the Netherlands, Belgium, northern France and the western half ← 297 | 298 → of Germany, and...

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