OPINION

Staying in the right camp

I would like to believe that these days will in 20 years from now be remembered as the low point in a lengthy decline. I would like to believe that we will get to tell those yet to be born stories that capture the depth of this systemic crisis and the repulsive decline of this historic nation. I would like to believe that we will one day point at the Faliro Delta following the renovation project or the revamped center of Athens, saying, ?You won?t believe how filthy and miserable it used to be around here.?

I would like to believe that in 20 years from now we will be doing things in a different way. This is what reason commands. After all, we have an undying ability to regenerate ourselves from our ashes and survive our occasional suicidal fits.

That said, I am concerned about the fact that we live in a period of profound geopolitical changes. The global economy is undergoing a tectonic shift. Wealth is shifting to the East, the United States is losing its hegemonic role and Europe is trying to keep itself in one piece — protecting its precious welfare state while remaining competitive at the same time. This is a tough equation that will take time to solve. No one can predict what the outcome will be. Whether we will end up with a German-centered Europe or a transfigured European Union. Whether Europe will emerge stronger from the crisis or if the problems will reduce the continent to a state of irreversible decline. The risks for Greece are obvious: The EU could move in one direction and choose to leave Greece behind, turning its back on a ?hopeless? case. Historically, Greece gained every time it chose the right camp; and it suffered when it picked the wrong allies — or picked no allies at all.

This time, it is crucial that we manage to stay in the Western camp, notwithstanding our frustration with Berlin or Brussels. Even our big friends that are not in this bloc, like the Chinese for example, see us as important players so long as we are members of the eurozone and the European Union. Finding ourselves deprived of meaningful alliances would make us vulnerable to aggressive neighbors and unscrupulous opportunists.

It takes two to tango, of course. Our partners need to realize the limits of our society and ease their demands, or Greece will risk ending up a failed state. As for us, we must finally find the dignity, the courage and the right leaders, and not just lament our fate.