May 31, 2012
People around the world are tired of reading about what is happening in Greece. And so are the Greeks hearing and reading global media describing the “Greek drama” from a million point of views in the last 30 months. The drama seems close to an end now as Greeks are asked to “decide if they want to stay in the euro” in the second general election in less than 45 days.
The latest news agenda includes a certainly untimely yet widely misunderstood statement from IMF Director Christine Lagarde, asking the Greeks to pay their taxes and don’t expect sympathy. Global news also comments on Angela Merkel’s support crash in recent polls while Greece and the Eurozone crisis remain point number one in the German media. And Greeks feel angry, and they feel vindicated, and they feel hopeless, and then they feel angry again.
The truth is, from the moment Greece entered the EU-IMF mechanism, a love-hate relationship started among the 3 sides. Merkel was for various reasons the face of the “strict European Union”, Lagarde took office at a later stage but had no obstacles in her way to become the new “persona non grata” for the Greeks. Despite all the suspiciousness though, along with the rising stereotypes, the Greeks are not completely convinced that they are “better off without them”. And so are Merkel and Lagarde. No matter if what happened 30 months ago was wrong or right, all 3 sides are seriously involved now. And there is no easy way out for anyone.
Greeks know they are in deep trouble because of the failing policies, but they are also in deep need of the cheap loans of the EU and the IMF. Angela Merkel watches half of the Germans wanting Greeks out of the eurozone but also hears a big part of the European Council accusing her policies of being the reason for an emerging collapse of the Eurozone. Christine Lagarde knows the IMF’s reputation is at stake here, and both options are very risky for the global economy. And they all have one thing in common. All sides want Greece to stay in the euro, but don’t express it wholeheartedly. A deadly triangular relationship, really.
Greeks vote on June 17th. Whether they vote for a “pro-euro” solution by supporting the centre-right and consequently the safe way of the memorandum, or choose the vague yet attractive option of the new global-media superstar of the radical left Alexis Tsipras, is yet to see. They will not avoid coalitions this time though, and this will be a sign of health for the political system. A sign that the Greeks still trust Europe as the solution for their problems, despite all the accusations they were keen on making the past years. A sign that democracy is in the end the best way to make voters and politicians stand up responsibly and choose what is best for the country, ignoring populism and hate speech. Lengthy interviews and grandiose statements should not be the priority of the media in a pre-election period. Greeks need to know their real choices and focus solely on those.
June 17th marks a milestone for this triangular relationship. Greece has to finally move on with the reforms, the IMF needs to adopt a more effective and realistic approach to help the Greek economy and Merkel needs to save the EU, or just join its saviours. If one of these three things does not happen, the triangle will be a deadly one. For Greece, for the Eurozone, for the global markets. If all these three happen, we might end up seeing an amount of successful policies bringing back growth to the economy, smiles to the people, and love to the trio that changed the way politics are done in the entire European Union.
by Konstantinos Kyranakis
Vice President, Youth of the European People’s Party