We tend to lament the decline of the Greek political system, the destruction of the social fabric, and the eventual economic meltdown. There are many reasons for our condition, most important however is the decades-long failure of the Greek establishment to adapt to European standards.
If the problems were exclusive to Greece, then one perhaps could blame them on our reactionary Greek character or our inept and irresponsible political elites, as it were. This, after all, is what happens in talks between locals, during which people tend to put all of the blame on their political foes or specific social groups – a habit which betrays our own need to shake off our own personal responsibilities.
More worrying at the moment, however, is the apparent breakdown in the European system at large. The influx of migrants and refugees into Europe has altered the political identity of many states and prompted some governments to take unilateral action in violation of common European agreements.
In this light, the reaction of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to measures taken by Austria and the so-called Visegrad Group was right. Other parties feel the same, despite any objections they may have to the manner in which the SYRIZA-led coalition has dealt with the issue after coming to power.
The crisis in the Middle East and North Africa has brought to the fore the EU’s inability to control developments in the area of its immediate interest and to deal with the consequences of a more general upheaval. In this respect, the bloc is a politically and militarily immature entity, which remains in a nascent phase.
Meanwhile, the economic crisis has exposed the inherent weaknesses of the common currency, as this was shaped in a way that ended up exposing the shortcomings of southern states compared to their northern counterparts. The disparity could only be rectified, at least according to Germany and particularly its Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, with the absolute adoption of Berlin’s edicts.
But Germany’s economic image has been tarnished in recent years by revelations from the other side of the Atlantic. The Siemens scandal was succeeded by the Volkswagen deceit and more recently by the problems at Deutsche Bank and the overall banking system of the German states.
That said, it would be a crime for anyone to even suggest that Greece has any hope of survival outside the European system. What needs to be understood, rather, is that a rebound cannot and will never be achieved without an overhaul of the European system. It is wise not to believe in miracles and also to remember that previous generations suffered a lot worse.