OPINION

The next step

The ultimatum issued by Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy to George Papandreou and essentially to the country as a whole, had a positive aspect attached to it. The message to the political class and to all Greek citizens was absolute, in the kind of language which did not allow for any other kind of interpretation: the eurozone has reached its limits regarding the incoherence which defines Greece on a political, financial, operational and social level. The country and its people have to decide whether they want to stay in the eurozone or not.

The deal, however, was not all about Greece, it was also about Italy, the euro, a common economic policy and many other things.

So the stakes were too high to be left to the disposition of Greek voters, also taking into acount the opposition of all other parties and social unrest. This explains the almost violent reaction of Merkel and Sarkozy.

Clearly the prime minister miscalculated European reaction and did not inform our partners in advance. This turned out to be a deadly political mistake for the premier and his government and at the same time a ghastly blow to the country?s remaining credibility.

The positive aspect to the reaction of Merkel and Sarkozy is that it set the alarm bells ringing in both PASOK and New Democracy. As if by magic, their opposite views on the debt deal in Brussels last week suddenly transformed into a common position. The most positive moment for the future of Greece was New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras changing his stance, who agreed to approve the deal when it is brought before Greek Parliament. He must know that the Europeans will demand that he approves the whole package, not just the loan and the haircut, but also the terms.

Fortunately, when face with an abyss, the lawmakers from both parties pressured their leaders into resolving their differences. They even went on television to explain what a disaster the return to the drachma would be.

That?s how Samaras and Papandreou found some common ground, which could form the basis for them working together in government as well if the prime minister chooses to work with New Democracy to form an interim administration.

However, it is also clear that Papandreou wants to find a way to remain on the political scene while Samaras finds it difficult to complete the step forward he took this week. If they both don?t do what the situation demands, we will be lost.