OPINION

Trust and credibility

No one trusts us and we don?t trust anyone. Our European partners think that we are playing with them, that we keep reneging on our promises; they want to keep a close eye on us before releasing new loans. In Greece, we are living through the breakdown of the contract between citizens and the state; feeling cheated by the two parties that ruled the country for 38 years, we seek solutions at the extremes of the political spectrum and in fairy tales. Our incomes are reduced, our spending is cut, we fear tomorrow. Every black cloud — whether a foreign leader?s comment or a crime in our neighborhood — is seen as further portent of doom.

In this climate of anger and distrust, Greece?s future is at stake, as are the hundreds of billions of euros in loans from our partners and in deposits in Greek banks. Our partners are wary of providing new loans, while our insecurity is underlined by the fact that in January we pulled another 5.2 billion euros from bank accounts, which, over the past year, have have fallen by 17 percent to 169 billion euros.

The lack of trust is measured in money — money held back from citizens and banks, from consumption and investments, from the real economy. This has dried up the economy and caused the recession, with tragic consequences for workers, the unemployed and pensioners. It is the cause but also a symptom of the great upheaval that Greek society is undergoing. It is the measure of insecurity, of the fears expressed in every home, in every conversation, behind closed doors, in public.

The lack of trust stems from the lack of political and state credibility and the many distortions in Greek society. We had become used to living with a state that considered us cheats and which forced us (when we could) to cheat on it. In the good years, we believed that we could ignore the dangers of complacency and comfort. Our citizens got used to having the state solve their problems, and now that the state can only demand and deprive we see all its weaknesses, we feel betrayed. The state, on the other hand, was used to disbursing borrowed funds, without accountability, without heeding the real needs of citizens. Now it cannot respond to our partners? demands or carry out basic functions, let alone implement reforms.

Now we not only face the need to make our economy viable, we are living through Greece?s collision with the real world. We?ve come to see this relationship only through the prism of money — the debt we keep cutting but which keeps growing — when what we need is to restore credibility and speak the same language among ourselves and with our partners.