For the last two years, the debt crisis first slowly, then more quickly, began to take its toll on Greece. Today, the economy seems to be in shambles. The political establishment – even when forced into a unity-cooperation government- cannot come to terms with the new reality.
The Europeans and especially Germany are putting exorbitant pressures on Greece while vociferously questioning their own judgement about whether too much austerity will in fact allow the country to bounce back in the future.
Week after week, the PSI continues to be under negotiation, and further austerity measures are being demanded by the Troika who is now targeting the private sector asking for deep salary cuts of around 30% in wages and eradication of the 13th and 14th salary bonuses given for decades now to Greek employees to help boost their low compensation.
Many of the reforms are again stalled. PASOK is disintegrating beyond recognition. New Democracy is lost in its anxiety to rule but wondering what they will rule over. New Democracy and LAOS -the other coalition partner -are in and out of the process drawing futile red lines in the sand which they know they will need to then erase. Parliamentarians from all sides of the aisle refuse to do as their parties request. Each man or woman is on his/her own now. They declare their voting intentions as they see fit. They also really angry. Angry for having to vote for things they don’t like. Angry that people are disrespecting them and harassing them. Angry that the ways of power they knew are gone. Angry that the whole country is crumbling and they are not sure that they can put a stop to it.
Credibility is lost within and outside Greece. Everyone is suffering. Homeless people line the streets, citizens don’t pay bills to each other and to the state. The young and able are seeking a way out of the mess and out of the country because they are increasingly coming to grips with the fact that there is no end in sight to their plight.
Every day Greece gets closer to declaring bankruptcy. Pandora’s box has been opened on all fronts.
How can control be regained when everything seems to be lost?
This is the burning question. Greece is not some forgotten country on the edges of the world that you can forget about (as is so often done with others). This is a country in the heart of Europe and the disintegration within Europe should not be permitted. Though the situations were very different, we have recently witnessed what it meant to fall apart, in the former Yugoslavia.
There are those in Europe who claim that Greeks think that they will be salvaged at any cost and they need to understand that it is not the case. Europe can show them who is boss. I am sure that Europe can. I am also sure that many Greeks are hiding their head in the sand. Many, however, aren’t. They are just trying to survive. The world, however, is more complicated than just economics. It has been build on intrinsic values and systems of power and influence that are the cornerstone of international affairs and geopolitics.
Why are Europeans missing this point?
It is fair that Greece make sacrifices to get back on track, but it is also vital for the sacrifices to also lead to a chance for recovery, and not to the creation of at least two lost generations of people. Resentment breeds contempt and leads to acts of desperation. This too should be taken into account as both Greece and Europe forge a path forward.
I can only keep my hopes high and my fingers crossed that all sides will truly realize what is at stake.