“Today’s decision by the Eurogroup marks the conclusion of many long months of uncertainty in Greece,” Commissioner Olli Rehn said on Thursday, regarding the immediate release of the next tranche of our bailout agreement. The “Cassandras have been proven wrong,” he added. Premier Antonis Samaras was as optimistic. “Solidarity is alive, the sacrifices of the Greeks are leading somewhere, Grexit is dead,” he said. Indeed, Greece will immediately receive 34.3 billion euros, and 18.1 billion more by March. But the conditions which created the economic uncertainty are still here.
The political landscape in Parliament is what it is, and, despite the self-immolation of Panos Kammenos’s Independent Greeks, will remain so: The three parties in the coalition will have a numerically comfortable but politically fragile majority, while the four opposition parties, each from its own vantage point, will rule out any tolerance for the austerity and reforms on which our bailout is conditional. Friction between the coalition partners, or between their members, remains the greatest danger to the country’s stability – especially as the main opposition party, SYRIZA, has bet everything on a policy of direct and constant confrontation with our partners and creditors. With this position, SYRIZA is leading in polls, but with numbers that would not give it a comfortable majority.
Avoiding early elections is a precondition for stability – at least until some sign of economic recovery appears – as is the quick adoption of measures to protect citizens from the consequences of the crisis and austerity. With unemployment at 24.8 percent and with the swift drop of incomes (from 94 percent of the EU per capita average in 2009 to 79 percent in 2011, according to Eurostat), each day wasted leads to greater disappointment and doubts regarding our policy and the country’s European orientation.
It is imperative that the new tax system be just, be seen to be just, and be implemented justly. The same applies to every law that is now in place or to be adopted, to break the cycle of lawlessness and cynicism. Money must flow quickly into the economy, where businesses and employees have been unpaid for months, where for years there has been recession, debt and despair.
A decision to provide medical care to 100,000 uninsured citizens was a good start, so no one will feel that the state does not care for him. It is one thing to deprive people, another to make them fear for their lives.
Our partners have shown solidarity, even though at times they found it difficult to do so, even though we often questioned their motives. The government did what the foreigners asked in exchange for the loan. Now our politicians – in government and in opposition – must see how they will make citizens feel more secure. Uncertainty will prevent recovery.