‘Who lost Greece?’

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - 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 struc- tures, 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.

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