COMMENT

Rebuilding on solid foundations

By Alexis Papachelas

Germany’s Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel on Monday described Greece as an “issue more for the World Bank than the International Monetary Fund.”

Few people seemed to appreciate the true implications of Gabriel’s statement which effectively put Greece in the same club as developing nations.

This is because the World Bank mainly focuses on the development of infrastructure, the creation of institutions and what is generally known as “nation building” in problematic areas of the wolrd.

As a Greek, I can only feel shame and frustration. But the sad truth is that we are shooting ourselves in the foot because we give the impression that we are a state which cannot perform the most basic tasks which are taken for granted in other European Union countries. From waste management to prison maintenance, it is obvious that this country is years behind. The reasons for this have been repeatedly analyzed and most of them go back to the “cursed” 1980s.

Despite being aware of the root of the problem, however, the country cannot go on using its inability to implement much needed reforms as an excuse vis a vis its partners and creditors. The country is ours, we brought it down and it’s up to us to rebuild it again.

Clearly we have all the right ingredients. The country has enough manpower to manage hospitals, correctional facilities, to take care of waste and to develop serious universities.

What the country needs are a few political leaders who have the spark and managerial planning which comes with timetables and crystal clear targets. What we also need is what we always seemed to have lacked prior to the arrival of the troika, and that is the idea of follow-up.

Unfortunately what we observe today are several ministries which have been completely mismanaged over the years and whose function is based on small groups of 30 to 40 people who know what’s going on and who make things work.

The country’s backbone is visible only when it comes to absolutely necessary, vital sectors.

We are not practical people. We tend to drift away in polarized albeit vacuous political discussions, and always seem to miss out on the essence of the matter at hand.

What is lost amid the sea of rage and the meaningless exchange of barbs and accusations, is the need to find ways to rebuild this country on healthier and more solid foundations, so we can once again be proud of it and not allow the Gabriels of this world to expose our nation to ridicule and shame.

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