The last squall

Greece should be encouraged by the optimistic signals coming from its foreign partners, but it should not let its guard down. The first of these signals is the change of tone in the international press, with even the British media, which used to see Greece through the prism of its own hostile relationship with the euro, admitting that the adjustments made have been huge and have come at a great cost. Greece?s case has also been helped by the revelation of cases of massive graft and overspending in Spain and other countries, while, for the first time, Europe is beginning to discuss the role played in the crisis by major international lenders and by Brussels, which saw that the level of lending to the countries of Southern Europe was unjustified but opted to say nothing.

Then there is also the fact that everyone has started to realize that the sovereign debt crisis is a tsunami that started in Greece and has now hit the entire south, but no one knows where it will stop. The French are terrified of being swept along, while the Americans will face their own fiscal abyss unless some very brave decisions are made in early 2013.

Developments at the European Central Bank, meanwhile, showed that for the meantime at least, the ?hawks? in Berlin lost the first round in the bout with the more realistic and moderate representatives of the German establishment. The losers from ECB President Mario Draghi?s recent announcements are those in Berlin who so passionately and systematically planned for a Greek exit from the euro in the belief that such an eventuality would delight the markets and curb contagion.

It is clear that Germany and the rest of Europe wants Plan A to work for Greece and for the country to stay in the euro area. This may be because they have not managed to come up with a Plan B to deal with the fallout of a Greek exit.

Now the only real danger is that we in Greece let the momentum die down and allow the critics of the bailout deal to believe that we can bully Europe into giving us more money now that it has expressed its desire to see us stay in the eurozone. If Greece wants to be included in Europe?s future plans for the bloc and convince voters in Germany and the Netherlands that it deserves to be a part of developments, it cannot go back on its commitments.

But how do you explain to the beleaguered people of Greece that they must ride out another round of austerity? This is the mission that the country?s political leadership now faces: to convince the people that we cannot drown now, just before the last squall.

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