A year from now

A year from now we will have forgotten the details of the past few days but will have a clearer image of what they left behind. The new loan agreement is forcing us to choose between the nightmare of bankruptcy and the painful road of strict austerity, the road of deprivation, dependence and disappointment but with the hope that eventually we will stand on our own feet. Although the choice seems simple, the result is so uncertain that the debate over the new memorandum is lost in the confusion of conflicting opinion. And so we see only the sacrifices demanded of us and not the opportunities offered.

Today it is understood the first memorandum was a failure and its demands cruel and misguided. Few remember that two years ago, the new PASOK government, in a panic due to a lack of money and without understanding the situation, adopted a policy it did not believe in. Meanwhile, opposition parties were almost unanimous in their rejection of the policy, along with all the parties and most of the news media. Who dares note the memorandum stressed not only the need for austerity but also for structural reforms and development? With a million unemployed, with all the main indicators showing a deep recession, we see only the memorandum?s failure, not the inertia and the divisions which contributed to this.

There are still many obstacles in the way of the new loan and debt reduction agreement — mainly the wariness of our partners and creditors, the anger of citizens called on to make new sacrifices, as well as the difficulty many politicians and others in public life are having in accepting their careers will be sacrificed for the sake of unpopular policies.

In a year we will be able to judge the role played by the protagonists of public life: Lucas Papademos, who found himself mediating between the bickering heads of the three parties that support his government and our impatient and often arrogant creditors; PASOK?s melancholy George Papandreou, who sees a political dynasty sinking under the weight of the past two years and is trying to stay on the political scene; Antonis Samaras, leader of New Democracy, who has changed tack but is trying to pretend that he hasn?t, while pushing for early elections; Giorgos Karatzaferis of the extreme-right LAOS, with his clownish opportunism; the absolute rejectionism of leftist parties; the citizens who carry the burden of all policies, whether they are right or wrong.

The days ahead will be difficult and we will all be judged for our actions. Let us remember the past few days when, in the future, we are called on to reflect on who chose the road of duty and who chose to run.