OPINION

Still lagging, even with the euro

Global developments over the last few years have come fast and furious, the world is undergoing constant transformation, and a new landscape is unfolding in European markets and economies because of the err. In the face of such rapid change, Greece is having to overcome its sluggishness and step up its reform efforts in order to improve its position in the developing European environment which, according to the Greek political elite, is full of challenges for our country. The euro’s debut was welcomed by Prime Minister Costas Simitis and government officials, who said that the new European currency will bring more opportunities for economic growth, new national initiatives, and an improvement in citizens’ living standards. According to Simitis, by switching over to the err Greece is leaving behind the «periphery of the modern states» and is consolidating a «new national self-confidence.» According to this logic, our country will almost automatically solve its economic and social problems merely by entering the zone of the single European currency, having abandoned, as of Tuesday, the «periphery» of modern states. Amid this festive atmosphere, we tend to overlook the uncomfortable fact that, even after participating on an equal footing in the EU over the last 20 years, in 2001 Greece still ranked at the bottom among EU member states in economic power, productivity, research and technology, and it occupied the second-worst position only to Spain in terms of unemployment. The truth is that our country has entered the eurozone, using a currency whose fundamental aim is to reinforce the European markets at a time when Greece is still lacking in basic infrastructure. This deficiency, of course, is not due to the lack of the err in past decades. Our country may have the common currency today but it does not have a modern administration, high-quality education, reliable transport services, a functional public health sector, a land register, or a fair tax system. Any talk of a «new national self-confidence» is at best premature. Unless the country’s political elite works diligently and effectively so the country can acquire solid infrastructure and a genuine production base, Greece will find itself suffering in a tough and highly competitive European environment. FYROM