Bete noir? Not quite

Barring some reservations over the recent audit of public finances, it is extremely hypocritical to attack the conservative government for conducting the review – even more so given the fact that the former, Socialist prime minister, Costas Simitis, overstepped the mark in exploiting his bogus mantra of a «powerful economy.» True, the revision of deficit figures has prompted fierce criticism against Greece. It is clear, however, that the government could not get away with prettifying the economy’s ugly reality for much longer. Furthermore, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis was unwilling to embrace a lie that would backfire sooner or later. A year later PASOK would almost certainly slam the government’s ostensibly dire record in the economy. The Greek economy will no doubt be subjected to thorough monitoring and Athens will come under pressure. Even so, saying that Greece will be the bete noir of Europe is a gross overstatement – especially considering that repeated breaches by France and Germany have nearly destroyed the Stability Pact. It is up to the Karamanlis government to sidestep the pitfalls, showing the requisite will and strength to resist pressure for «shock therapy.» Economic reform must take place in a decisive yet smooth way. Adapting to demands from Brussels may sometimes be useful notwithstanding any moral questions that may surface. But it is not always the ideal choice.

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