The big sellout

Just when George Papandreou, Greece?s socialist prime minister, was saying that ?we have accomplished 95 percent? of the demands set out in the memorandum signed with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, the foreign inspectors were saying that none of the goals set out have been achieved and that our sacrifices have gone to waste.

We have failed, they say, because our goal should have been to reduce the debt, not the deficit. Nine months of exhausting efforts have been to no avail, in other words. Just when Eurogroup Chairman Jean-Claude Juncker was handing out praise and congratulations, the cold shower by the representatives of the so-called troika appears to be part of a cunning strategy.

Just when the government had started to claim that it is making decisions on its own, without outside interference, the three foreign officials came here to announce that the country must sell 50-billion-euros worth of state assets, including public property. And they did so using the same cold language they would use if they were announcing the sellout of the local grocery store.

As for government officials, it took them eight hours to express their annoyance at the rude comments made by the three inspectors who, of course, were not really improvising or acting independently.

So, why were Papandreou, government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis and Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou so slow in responding to the provocative comments – a reaction which was, after all, was a spectacle designed for domestic consumption? Perhaps because they were trying to understand who really is in charge of the country. Or again it was maybe because they govern knowing that they have already ceded a part of our national sovereignty. Or, most likely, because accomplices as they are, they saw no reason to go to the trouble.

That said, our lenders were generous enough to clarify that the list of the property on sale does not include ancient monuments; only state-owned property, uninhabited rocky formations, public property.

No one wanted to jeopardize Greece?s cultural legacy, a slightly emotional IMF inspector said – and the hearts of the Caryatids stopped fluttering.

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