The European Union, not the Greeks, is as usual on holiday

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.

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Καλημέρα Μιράντα /Good morning Miranda. Central Athens,Greece.

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.

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Marathon Bay. Marathon, Athens, Greece

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!

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Greece is in disintegration. But it’s always the sea, the sea and the sun will soothe my compatriots for a while…

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Greece Repatriates Democracy in Europe

In Greece there is an air of hope and I think at the moment the hope is more than the fear.  The new elected government of Alexis Tsipras, leader of the leftist party Syriza  which according to my opinion is not so radical as the mass media wants to portray it, has already started to give signs of hope not only to Greeks but to all Europeans who are contemplating about the notion of Democracy in Europe. The French PM Francois Holland made the first step to attract the solidarity of the leaders to support free speech, one of the most important tool of Democracy and Alexis Tsipras has awakened  the Europeans about another very important issue of Democracy which was deliberately forgotten.  

Alexis’s  Tsipras  “left” hand,  the highly eloquent and more flamboyant personality,  the finance minister Yianis Varoufakis made the first step of repatriating Democracy in Europe. He stopped negotiating with Troika – a team of bank administrators of IMF, ECB and EU Commission- and made clear that he was rather seeking direct talks with the individual governments and IMF than negotiating with Troika. This first step of negotiation is the most significant for the European Union as a democratic Institution.. 

 The supervision of the UNELECTED Troika-IMF, ECB and EU Commission- of the Greek government implementations was deeply humiliated not only for Greece but for all the European countries.  It destroyed Europe’s integrity and respect for sovereignty  much needed in Europe at the moment.  

But as  Paul Krugman has often pointed out, ‘economics is not a morality play… in which virtue is rewarded and vice punished’.  The debt has to be paid  and as Thomas Fazi at The Trokia saved banks and creditors-not Greece writes “unfortunately economics is never just about economics: whether we like it or not, morality and culture shapes people’s attitudes to economic issues, and nowhere is this clearer than with the issue of debt (private or public). It would be fair to say that the common man’s prevailing stand on the issue is that debts incurred have to be repaid”.

But at the moment, someone doesn’t need to be leftist or member of Syriza to see that Greece’s debt cannot be fully paid  (roughly $270 billions) without driving Greece and its population into  extinction.

Therefore European Union has to bring to the surface the forgotten core values of this Union, which except economics , is Democracy, Unity and Solidarity. Tsipras and Varoufakis’ struggle is in progress towards achieving this target.. 

P.S : After so much humiliation and despair for my country, I really feel proud of its leaders  for showing to Europe the right direction without being cheap.