OPINION

Difficult crossroads

We grew up with a variety of fairy tales in Greece, stories whose demise we are now witnessing one by one. We were raised to believe, for instance, that the world’s powers were divided into Greece’s enemies and philhellenes. We didn’t realize that the global scene was not about friend and foe, but about interests. The days of romantic philhellenism which turned European intellectuals and aristocrats into Greek Independence War volunteers are long gone. The world’s players weigh their interests and act accordingly. Americans turn into our friends when they’re worried about Germany’s obsession with austerity. The Russians consider their own interests vis a vis Turkey and Germany, among others, before making their minds up.

It is absolutely vital to always assess international developments based on real facts, as opposed to how we would like things to be. Every time Greece combined bravery with an accurate assessment of the international balance of power, it thrived. Things turned sour when we got carried away by mistaken evaluations, such as in the case of Smyrna. We are now in danger of getting carried away once again by an overestimation of our power, either because we are made to believe that large quantities of natural gas reserves lie beneath our waters or because some imagine a kind of geopolitical arm-wrestling match which we are supposedly a part of.

The country stands at a crucial crossroads. We would all like to shout “no” to the troika and anyone else we hold responsible for our troubles. It is shameful indeed for a country to be managed by the troika. But we need to take a good look in the mirror and decide whether the current political-unionist system, irrespective of ideology, is capable of managing hospitals and garbage and leading the country to growth.

Emotionally and culturally we have idealized the notion of saying no. Saying no, however, is not solely about having guts. It also requires professionalism, organization skills and planning. Above all, it requires leadership with a tangible plan for the country’s re-creation and the people to implement it, painful as it may be. Where is this plan? The case of Cyprus demonstrated what may happen in a “perfect storm” situation, when a no is not followed by a real Plan B and is based on an incorrect reading of international developments.

The voice of reason and common sense has become an awfully small minority. Populist and pseudo-patriot politicians find fertile ground when people are being put to the test. They promise magic solutions and imaginary strategic alliances. But the people are aware of what’s going on, how other countries are suffering, what Cyprus is going through. They realize this is not a gigantic conspiracy targeting Greece alone. But how long can they bear to endure it all without some kind of light, even a distant one, at the end of the tunnel?