This week marks five years since Greece officially entered a period of crisis when then Prime Minister George Papandreou announced that the country would seek a bailout from the eurozone and the International Monetary Fund. Beginning that Friday, April 23, 2010, and up to yesterday, think of the number of Eurogroup meetings that have taken place in a rather negative climate, how many deals have or have not been agreed to, how many points of disagreement or convergence have been recorded and how many differences have been bridged.
The economic recession continues, the public deficit has been reduced, but the public debt has risen, while the number of unemployed has more than doubled (currently it is estimated at over 1.3 million people). Tough fiscal measures, the almost continuous threat of a Greek eurozone exit, the constant danger of bankruptcy, the nightmarish drachma scenario and its fervent supporters (especially in the last few months), anxiety about the day after and the feeling of suffocation arising from the reluctance or impotence of the political staff have led to the unending trials of a very limited gamut of emotions, ranging from indignation to fatigue and back again.
Meanwhile, reforms have been barely anywhere to be seen over the last five years. The extent of their invisibility was confirmed by former Premier Antonis Samaras during a recent TV interview when he was asked to name three of them. I can recall just one, which seemed the most serious one: broader and better online services for citizens, or something like that. I don’t remember the other two.
On the subject of Greece and the country’s relations with its lenders, European Parliament President Martin Schulz recently noted that these were bad, “to put it nicely.”
The country is once again facing a stranglehold, while the country’s parliamentary representatives are sensationally and worryingly losing their cool, the government is revoking measures, ministers are taking others which take the country backward, there is no money and a government decree regarding state bodies and local authorities transferring their cash reserves to the Bank of Greece is nearing the level of national division.
The only certainty we have acquired over the last five years is that things could always be worse. This includes the kind of accident which either comes from complete abandon or from supreme self-confidence, and, most of all, from sheer ignorance.