Most people in Greece expected their political leaders to walk out of the Presidential Palace yesterday having achieved consensus on at least a few crucial points. The people, who are becoming increasingly desperate because they believe the leadership to be inadequate and irresponsible, demanded it. Athens?s European partners and creditors also expected an agreement, and now they are wondering why something that can be achieved in other countries is impossible in Greece.
Unfortunately, according to sources, the discussion began well enough, with a sober tone set by President Karolos Papoulias, though it quickly degenerated into a verbal scrap more suited to a coffee house.
Prime Minister George Papandreou talked about everything, but never once did he pose the serious questions, as though a meeting of political leaders can be like a brainstorming session in which all the options are on the table, from a referendum to a government of technocrats. OK, we understand that Papandreou cannot function under the pressure of the markets and the media, and that he would rather have a lot more meetings of this kind before reaching any final decisions. But the time for talking is over and the people are beginning to get scared because they see the panic in their government?s eyes and they see that Papandreou, as always, seems to be in no rush and seems to have no real desire to discuss his plans outside his small circles of advisers.
On the other hand, it is obvious that New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras does not want to take on a shred of responsibility or to back any of the painful measures that are so critical right now. This stance is also understandable because he believes that it will get him elected.
The behavior of both, however, is inconceivable abroad, where our lenders and our partners have lost their trust in Papandreou and also want to know who will be managing the huge amounts of money they will be forced to give.
It is also inconceivable that when the country is at war they should sit around arguing over what kind of gun to use.
Greece is at breaking point.
Yesterday?s meeting not only tainted the country?s image even further, but it pushed the people further toward desperation and rage. They expected a meeting of leaders. What they got instead was a desperate meeting of politicians who are terrified of a crash but want someone else to blame.