There is one thing of which I am completely certain. If we want Greece to remain a member of the eurozone and to advance, the government faces a Herculean task. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras must be daunted by the sheer magnitude of the challenges that lie ahead but he also knows what will happen if he fails: closed banks, a return to the drachma and disaster.
Tsipras has a choice of three different approaches. The first is to pick up where his predecessors left off but in a positive manner. This would mean making certain agreements with Greece’s creditors but enforcing just a fraction of these or enough to wiggle out of a tight corner. It seems unlikely that such a strategy would wash with our creditors right now. The second option is to clash with the eurozone. This is a road full of perils, especially in geostrategic terms, and will likely lead to a euro exit. Of course there are those who advocate this exact thing, going so far as to argue that the markets are already expecting it. The third approach is getting all the mainstream parties in Greece to agree to a national strategy. This is probably the hardest option for the young leftist leader who believed that he could leave his mark on the European political landscape by running into battle. This is a tactic that certainly goes down well in the history books but comes at a huge political cost.
So what should Greece do as a country? It needs to appear united and determined. Unity in the dispute with Berlin and Brussels will make us feel good about ourselves but ultimately leads nowhere. What we need is unity behind one great achievement, one vision: to rebuild the country, root out corruption and address issues like the social security system that are eating away at our future prospects. We need to get back that sense of pride in our country, our abilities and our achievements that was so prominent during the 2004 Athens Games. The revolution certain SYRIZA cadres are looking forward to can wait; now is the time for unity on the big issues.
If the political leaders who believe that Greece belongs firmly in Europe and the eurozone were to sit down and hammer out a program that would see Greece through the next year or so, we would see an improvement, and very soon. Our lenders would stop holding back funding and offer a viable deal. Foreign investors would return and help kick-start the economy.
This does not mean everything would be perfect. We would still have a shortage of high-ranking public administrators capable of dealing with the thorny issues, a weak state machine and a slow justice system. But I firmly believe that we will eventually prevail. If we do not rally behind a common cause, the war will be lost within the next few months. Maturity is an ongoing process and hopefully it will be completed in time.