In his new book ‘Purity’ Jonathan Franzen writes “I think it helps to start with people who are in an unstable, untenable position, an anxious making or a stressful position, because then you know that something has to change”. Exactly this is what the Greeks did after five years of hardship, crisis and humiliation. They elected a new government. Purity was what they needed mostly and subsequently a bit of breath from the harsh austerity measures.
Obviously, the European leaders (see German) needed a change but they were based on what Prince Tancredi, a character in the Leopard, a famous novel set in 19th century Sicily, reckoned “if we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change”. In Creece a lot of things have changed since the start of the Greek crisis. The new Greek government had a new proposal in order to tackle the crisis inside the Eurozone but nothing was enough for the Eurogroup and European leaders who were guided by the supreme (German) leaders. The new Greek government(the change) had to follow the same 5 years program and to confront the same problems. Athens still cannot repay its debt and it is in a deeper recession and neither the eurozone and the European Union as a whole find any resolution as bailout follows bailout. Merkel and Schauble are repeating the magic word “rules” to their electorates in whatever concerns the Greek crisis, which of course these rules and laws can be bend and be quite flexible behind the doors of the meeting rooms in Brussels where there is no recording of any discussion. As consequence, the euro’s future itself remains uncertain.
It’s interesting to quote Ernesto Gallo and Giovanni Biava in their article about Greece and Europe “The Greeks have been often derided as “lazy” or “corrupt” when the key responsibilities lay elsewhere. The current EU has benefited from extremely low interest rates (still 0.05%), but will hardly survive without a political union. In addition, the rest of the world is moving fast. The United States has promoted a much coveted deal with Iran, also with the support of Moscow, as President Obama has recognised. Russia has hosted the summits of the BRIC states and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), which is opening to Pakistan and India. The European Union, not the Greeks, is as usual on holiday.”
In my recent visit to Greece, one week ago, the misery was depicted at every turn in the Athenian roads. The banks were under capital control with maximum withdrawal amount of 60 euros and big queues of old people in front of the ATMs. Most of the shops in the high streets of central Athens were closed down with the only survivors the Chinese “one euro” shops. And my compatriots, I think, are beyond any horror, terror, humiliation. They are tired and subdued. They had enough, they voted “no” to the austerity measures because they are in the same stage as the character in the scene of the film Network – Mad as a Hell- who says: I don’t care about the depression and the inflation and the Russians… The air is unfit to breathe, the food unfit to eat… I’m human being, my life has a value!
Greece is in disintegration. But it’s always the sea, the sea and the sun will soothe my compatriots for a while…