OPINION

The ever elusive national plan

We keep hearing Greek politicians spew inanities about a national plan to regenerate the country. Sure, it’s a pleasant-sounding concept. The problem is, it’s nowhere to be seen.

What we see now is a shame. The fact is no political party here really has a pragmatic plan to transform this country. We have surrendered ourselves to micromanagement by troika and EU Task Force officials. Politicians are busy exchanging barbs and accusations instead of focusing on the core problems.

In the area of judicial reform, for instance, some politicians are backing the changes, saying they are mandated by Greece’s bailout agreements. Others oppose the changes, arguing they are in breach of the country’s national sovereignty. But this is no way to move forward. Hard as this government – or the next one for that matter – may try, the things that are holding this land to ransom won’t change.

Any public debate should concern the following: Let’s assume that the troika were to leave this country tomorrow. What would we do? What would we have to change immediately in order to turn Greece into a responsible state that is capable of safeguarding the rule of law and promoting growth? How can we improve our hospitals, our tax offices, our public administration, our waste management?

Greece is like a big, problematic company. You can throw all the money you want at it, but you will get nothing in return unless you make some structural reforms, unless you have a business plan. Now Greece is like a guinea pig; it’s all a big mess: The European Commission, the IMF, the task force, the Germans, the Dutch, bank supervisors and so on are trying to understand how we work and come up with solutions. The problem is that they each have their own agenda and sometimes move in different directions. However Greece does not have the time for 13 different agencies and governments to come to an agreement.

We must use the foreigners’ know-how and research. But unless we first shake ourselves up – as a people, as a political system and as a society – nothing is going to change. All that, of course, sounds overly optimistic as Greek politicians have shown little willingness to cooperate. But there is no other way. The nation must change radically, but with a plan – starting from the Constitution.

It’s hard to pass reforms in the midst of social turmoil. Greeks will only throw their weight behind it if they see some basic level of consensus.

The safest way for a troika exit is a national plan to rebuild the country. I’m only sure of two things: First, we will make it, to everyone’s surprise, because we are an adaptable and stubborn nation. Second, after we achieve this, our lenders will look upon us in a completely different way.