OPINION

Next step: Stability

An important step toward the survival of the country was taken on Sunday. The two main political parties — PASOK and New Democracy — disregarded the damage they knew they were going to suffer and, in a climate of doubt and denial, in an environment of terror — both inside and outside Parliament — said ?no? to the path of chaos. Citizens who are still able to think with some level-headedness will no doubt see that the 190 lawmakers who found the courage to vote ?yes to everything? acted with bravery at a time that may one day prove historic.

Sunday?s vote in Parliament for the new memorandum has not ensured Greece?s salvation. It merely reduced the risk of an immediate disaster and mainly proved that the vast majority of Greek politicians have understood the gravity of the situation. This is encouraging, but it would be a mistake to assume that the months ahead will be easy. In fact they will be very difficult, because it is not at all certain that the new memorandum is capable of pulling us out of the impasse, even if it is applied to the letter. There are many who doubt its efficacy; many without malice, but many more with a good deal of it. Greece has a duty to make an effort to succeed. Its back is certainly up against the wall and it has no other choice, irrespective of the magnitude of the sacrifices.

The first goal is to convince the citizens of the need for social cohesion and a stable economic environment. Ostensibly, the new bailout package will contribute to this end, but it cannot achieve it alone. The country?s politicians will have to embrace the dictates of the memorandum and argue tirelessly in favor of it with words and actions that society will also, in turn, be able to embrace.

At the same time, the government needs to wage war against the culture of lawlessness and vandalism that has torn Greek society apart just as much as the crisis has. The vandalism on Sunday night, which destroyed a chunk of central Athens, cannot be tolerated by a state that has its head screwed on straight. The perpetrators of this vandalism must pay so that the people feel the safety that it is the state?s duty to provide and are better able to deal with the challenges that lie ahead.

Stabilizing the situation in Greece right now will take more than economic policy. It will require the steps that will help swiftly rebuild an image that reflects a well-coordinated state.

This will also help change the way Europe perceives us now, so that one day we will be able to ask for the additional help that will permanently stave off the threat of bankruptcy.