Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras says to the Europeans: “Now is the time to give hope to the Greek people, not just implementation, implementation, implementation, obligations, obligations, obligations.”
He is proving to be a great master of the art of distraction. So great that he managed to change more of the crisis’ vocabulary, from the annoying “bond yields” to language of “emotion” and “damaged national dignity,” as the New York Times recently noted.
But damaged national dignity is not a consequence of the crisis: it is the cause. Even after Greek officials’ recent emotional outbursts brought relief for some, the crisis remains intact.
I do not think there is a Greek – regardless of where he lives – who does not feel awful about the crisis. The Prime Minister thus found fertile ground by spotlighting this notion – dignity – as the number one election campaign issue.
It is clear and logical that the Greek people are tired of the words “implementation” and “obligations.” They are tired of the complaints, the orders in the form of “recommendations,” which they have been listening to for years.
They are tired of the terms, the conditions – if you accomplish the reforms, if you implement the memoranda, then … they are tired of being treated like schoolchildren being scolded and threatened.
The situation has thus finally touched national dignity – Greek pride, very deeply – and so the Greek would rather flip a coin than listen to more about implementation and obligations.
Maybe deep down Greeks are also overcome by a sense of guilt, that they have made a mess of things and are thus responsible for having become dependent on others.
But it weighs heavily on the Greek people to have become obligated to the Germans, with whom there remain unsettled accounts from the past.
That is why the Greeks have exclaimed: “Enough is enough,” and applauded Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis’ actions, even though they understand that they will pay for them.
Of course, beyond the satisfying their feelings of dignity, pride, and esteem there is another side: reality. The country depends on those with whom it is – not very wisely – engaged in a war of words.
Thus, the euphoria is temporary. To satisfy offended national dignity and ego, they court damaging themselves. The only assured way to a definite way to regain lost national dignity and independence is economic recovery.
This requires a change in mindsets. Hard work. Seriousness. Less demagoguery. Oh yes, and the implementation of reforms.