Athens — At the European Community summit, which starts Friday, Greek leader Andreas Papandreou will present a much humbler attitude than his past would dictate. As leader of the opposition in the 1970s, Mr. Papandreou regularly denounced the European Community as ''the watchdog of Washington'' and ''the economic arm of NATO.''
But since coming to power 18 months ago as head of Greece's first socialist government, he has muted his criticism of the EC and NATO and demonstrated a willingness to negotiate with both. Today, almost no one in Athens seriously doubts that the Greek government will settle for a compromise with the EC soon.
His Pasok party government has abandoned earlier plans either for a ''special relationship'' outside the EC on the Yugoslav or Norwegian model, or for a referendum on whether to stay in. Last year it submitted a memorandum to the commission, asking for special treatment within the EC.
But with their reply in April, the EC Commission only went halfway toward meeting Greece's demands. Their proposal included $2.5 million in aid for Athens over the next five years. But the offers of financial help came within the context of existing EC policies - particularly the agricultural program tailored for Mediterranean members - which the commission claimed was ''a response to many of the demands outlined in the Greek memorandum.''
With one eye on Spain and Portugal, the two countries applying for full membership in 1985, the EC Commission has made it clear there can be no substantial renegotiation of terms once a country joins the EC. If Greece accepts the commission's proposals, which include financing for projects under the government's five-year plan, it will bring the country more firmly into the EC.
In 1982, Greece in net terms received $680 million from the Community, a figure that is expected to reach $1 billion this year. Athanassios Kanellopoulos , agriculture minister when the opposition New Democracy Party was in power, pointed out that if Greece were not a member, it ''would be waiting in the queue along with Spain and Portugal, knocking on the EC's door.''
As a member of parliament from the New Democracy Party commented, ''Without the EC, what would Andreas Papandreou do today? The survival of the Greek economy depends solely and exclusively on the funds of the European Community.''