In the third year of the program aimed at saving Greece’s economy, the only sure thing is that our uncertainty has no end. For any great project to succeed, citizens must believe in it – they must have a clear picture of where they are, which problems they face and where their destination lies. When we know where we’re going, when we have some idea of when we’ll get there, we can withstand the greatest hardships; when we lose our way we will start looking for new truths, like the Jews who lost faith in Moses and God and worshipped another people’s deity.
As we wander the desert of Europe’s disorientation in the early 21st century, we must note that our citizens are the last who should be blamed for the uncertainty that plagues us. They have shown unbelievable tolerance and heroism in the face of a most violent adjustment to their new economic and social circumstances. The greatest danger comes from those who should be showing the way out of trouble: The leaders of Europe and Greece are those who don’t know where we are going.
In recent days, we witnessed a strong difference of opinion between members of the troika of our creditors, with the European Central Bank rejecting Athens’s proposal for a funding gap in 2014 to be covered by a rollover of bonds worth 4.4 billion euros that were issued to strengthen banks’ capital in 2009. The International Monetary Fund and the Commission – the other two troika members – agreed with Athens’s idea. In other words, in the sixth year of recession, with our incomes already slashed and endless taxes raining down upon our heads, we still don’t know whether we will face even harsher austerity.
The government, knowing that it cannot impose new measures, is forced to stand up to the troika, with the aim of negotiating a new way out of the impasse, or with the unspoken threat of calling early elections. These desperate measures may force our creditors and partners to consider the dangers posed by their rigid stand, but they do nothing to put citizens’ minds at ease. Those who issue our orders cannot agree with each other, our own leaders make desperate threats (or, like our official opposition, persist with equally self-destructive delusions), while citizens suffer one blow after another, without knowing when and if the plagues will end.
No one expects the journey to end in the Promised Land – we all know that that is where we fell from and that there is no going back. But Brussels and every EU capital must realize that not only the Greeks but – sooner or later – all Europeans need to learn where we are headed. Because without a destination, without a vision to bind it, no society, no country, no union can remain whole.