OPINION

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

It is so exhausting and unpleasant for average Greek citizens to keep hearing for weeks now that the country’s cash reserves will run out in two months, one month, next week, and especially when this is reported in a snide manner. It erodes what little courage they have left after five depressing years of austerity to hear that bankruptcy will come, is coming, has come: despite the fact that they suffered so much to avert it; despite tolerating unemployment or under-employment or a meager salary because they were told that this is how it should be; despite being blamed for their own suffering without any proof of culpability; despite seeing their incomes decline by half or more; despite seeing the health, welfare and education systems “reformed” into oblivion.

It is irrational – and degrading – for Greek citizens to keep hearing that the country’s ills are all their fault, from the start of the crisis to its first manifestations and through the progression of the drama all the way to the current quagmire. It is painful and insulting that Greeks are being treated like children (for political rather than economic reasons) by the troika or, as they are known now, “the institutions.” This treatment saps their remaining strength and threatens to crush them until they give up, consign their futures to fate, or push them in the opposite direction.

It is also irrational to albeit shaken Greek minds that they are being forced to continue, with little change, a course of treatment that has already been proved to be responsible for sky-high unemployment, frozen growth, the cancer of business closures and a rise in suicides, acknowledged by international organizations.

Sure, we can accept that respecting the citizens’ mandate, as it is expressed at the ballot box, is no longer a must in Europe. This is already apparent from the teams of technocrats in Italy and Brussels who, if not necessarily appointed by Brussels were certainly not elected by the people. It is apparent in the blunt manner of German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble who recently lamented the fact that Parliament stands in the way of reforms in France. But the problem is that Europe also doesn’t seem too bothered about the facts or numbers either.

It is unbearable for Greeks to watch the drama of the negotiations rendered (either simplistically or maliciously) as though it were a western, in which the others are Good and Greece is both the Bad and the Ugly. If this perception is actually reflective of the real situation, irrespective of whether it’s being played up a bit for the sake of the drama, then there is a very real fear that a union which solves its differences in High Noon style is no longer a union.