What will happen when the 1,000 or so foreign media correspondents who came to Athens to cover events these past few days go home? What will happen when the Greek crisis is no longer on the front pages of foreign newspapers, when hardly anyone cares what’s going on with the Greeks, irrespective of whether they’re regarded as brave, undisciplined, lazy or deserving of their rotten fate? What will happen, in short, when Greece is left alone, without friends but also without enemies? Alone. With just a few thousand tourists, fewer international flights, with cultural events being canceled, businesses going bust, a shrinking market, rising unemployment, banks just managing to muddle along, emptying supermarket shelves…
The scenario of “terror” (as the government likes to label any mention of what is really going on) is already unfolding but we have an edge: the proud “no” of the referendum, which was meant to strengthen the government’s bargaining positions but is instead turning into a noose around Alexis Tsipras’s neck.
SYRIZA and Independent Greeks talk about dignity when what the country’s partners are looking for is credibility. They need to believe in the Greek proposals, in the reform effort, in the country’s representatives, in the entire country, in fact. For the past two days, public statements from European officials have been balanced carefully between stressing the fact that time is short and the need for a credible proposal from Athens. Their interest, which is basically surviving without too many losses, is at complete odds with the situation of Greece. No one wants the worst (Grexit) to happen but…
Increasingly isolated, we stand on a slippery bank watching the European ship sailing further and further away – some of us stunned, some crushed, some desperate and some even happy.
These are the last scenes that will play in the foreign media. After the rush of imminent disaster, we will each return – poorer – to the day-to-day grind. No one will care about Greece’s predicament because, as our partners in the other 18 countries of the eurozone have said time and again, they have already spent months and months dealing with the 19th and the problem is just getting bigger.
And the worst part is that the “enemy” is not internal. It is not the elected government but the “foreigners.” The demagoguery that Jean-Claude Juncker recently warned about has found fertile ground. The “foreigner” is always an easy target, a great magnet for all the anger and frustration of failure.
But anger can quickly transform and can even become stronger when the “foreigner” leaves and we are left alone to deal with poverty, unemployment and increasing shortages. We’ll have no partners and no more lies to invoke. We will be alone: just us and reality.