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Friday, 21 November 2014

‘Who lost Greece?’


By Nikos Konstandaras

If, by unhappy chance, Greece’s efforts to create a more efficient economy and more just society should fail, if it turns out that all our sacrifices were in vain, who will be to blame? The government, the opposition or the troika? The politicians, state institutions or voters? Is it the fault of “the program” or the haphazard way in which it was applied? Did the protagonists do enough or did they do too much? In other words, was the adjustment program too violent,
causing a recession which trapped the country in a black hole of debt and misery? On the other hand, if reforms had been carried out before austerity, might they have helped make better use of our sacrifices, saving funds without destroying social structures, while spurring growth?

Five years after Greece was forced to ask its partners in the EU and the International Monetary Fund for a bailout, and just as a deep, six-year recession seems to be ending, it is sad that we still don’t feel that we have weathered the storm and can now build on stable ground. That is why we have so many questions: When the government warns that all that was gained is still in jeopardy, when the opposition claims that salvation lies in abandoning the course of the last few years, together they add to the sense of uncertainty and helplessness. It is imperative that our parties begin to show they can focus on the country’s problems and not only on how they will score points against each other, as has been the custom for far too long.

The EU, the European Central Bank and the IMF need to understand something which might evade them in the interminable negotiations with the Greek side, where the troika is often forced to insist on measures that were agreed upon but not implemented: They too have a great responsibility for what happens to Greece. Even if they have managed to disentangle their banks and their economies from Greece, our country has followed their instructions in the crisis. Whether Greece has contributed sufficiently to its own rescue or not, whoever undertakes a salvage operation should be aware of the weaknesses and needs of those whom he will help. He must know when to pull the rope hard and when to cut some slack. If the salvage operation fails, Europe and its mechanisms will have their share of the blame. The EU and the IMF will have to ask themselves, “Who lost Greece?”


If we cannot remain within the eurozone, outside of Greece this will continue to concern only the specialists interested in the details of such great failures. It will be of greater concern to the Greeks. Because, in the end, whoever is at fault, however much we blame each other (and, all together the “foreigners”), it is we Greeks who must live with the consequences of failure. We still have hope – but let us not dismiss the dangers, nor look for excuses before we fail.

ekathimerini.com

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