A quiet prelude to disaster

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has a very difficult mission, one that is almost impossible. On the one hand he has to ensure that Greece does everything it needs to in order to remain inside this shattered club of powerful nations that is the eurozone. On the other, he needs to keep his country?s injured and frail society alive.

In fact, Samaras needs to keep Greece alive not just economically speaking, but also in political terms by restoring a healthy democratic state. At least these are the intentions he has stated to foreign media, showing that he understands the difficulties and the risks, and in doing so needs more time, a little bit of room to breathe.

Unfortunately, consecutive Greek political leaderships over the past three years have squandered precious time. Time aside, they also spent valuable political capital and any negotiating leeway Athens may have had.

The diagnosis of the Greek problem was late coming, the measures introduced to save the country were either inadequate or completely wrong, nothing was done to negotiate better bailout terms and the timing of Greek politicians could not have been more off. Gone, therefore, is the country?s credibility.

Greece allowed itself to be victimized by outsiders, while inside the country the leadership led an assault of horizontal cuts on citizens, without having first drawn up a strategy or setting goals. In this sense criticism by foreign leaders that the suffering of the Greek people is the responsibility of the country?s inadequate politicians is true. Even on Friday, after meeting with Samaras, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the cost of the crisis should not be carried only by the financially weakest.

More time to meet fiscal adjustment targets will not be granted to Greece without some quid pro quo. The German chancellor made no reference to what she as a politician and European leader would like to see happen to Greece. Instead, she referred to the upcoming report by the troika?s inspectors, a technical document drafted by employees carrying out the orders of their political superiors. Her reference to this ?neutral? report does in fact grant Greece a little bit more time, which may then be extended until the elections in the United States. But this time is ticking away, like a quiet prelude to disaster, as the kindness of strangers runs dry.

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