The Long Nightmare of Greece Goes On

In recent days the stress and loneliness of the holidays have amplified people’s perceptions of the problems related to the Greek crisis.

There was the suicide of a hotelier drowning in debt, and the desperate dive into Rhodes harbor of a fully-clothed woman trying to retrieve the Epiphany Cross to draw public attention to her economic problems and her husband’s illness.

But aren’t we tired of hearing about the crisis? What if it has destroyed the middle class – the backbone of the country. What if it has generated a new stream of migrants; what if it reveals incredible things, like bribery among  senior officers of the Armed Forces of Greece?

Yes, I wish they were all nightmares, and that in actuality all of us, in Greece and in the Diaspora, are living a normal life, with its normal problems and joys, like other nations.

And wouldn’t it be nice if the international media, considered more impartial than our own, did not constantly remind us of the tragedy of the situation?

The economist Carmen M. Reinhart, who along with Kenneth S. Rogoff wrote the monumental book This Time is Different said the other day: “Why would any politician in their right mind undertake the kinds of austerity measures Greece has done? Because no one will lend to them, and existing creditors want full repayment. When the rest of the world is unwilling to lend, you do things that are driven by necessity.”

Unfortunately, the state of emergency for the country will continue because the Germans are determined not to make new concessions in favor of Greece, faithful to their philosophy that it would send the wrong message not only to the Greeks, but other southern European nations who would want leniency.

The reforms being imposed on Greece are undertaken in the form of austerity measures, internal devaluation to reduce labor costs and the price of goods so that Greek products will be more competitive. Debt reduction will occur through repayment and not with another “haircut” as economic columnist Wolfgang Münchau wrote in the Financial Times.

These statements, however, are based on a crucial premise: that the people of Greece will continue to tolerate this situation.

I am among those who have argued for years that the solution to the crisis will be political rather than economic: that the people will ultimately turn against the Eurozone in whose name they are suffering.

And this is already happening. Only 31 percent of the people in Europe still have faith in the EU.