Two big experiments and us

We often become so caught up in our own little world that we forget how irrelevant the utterings of Kimon Koulouris, Aristidis Pavlidis or any other bitter soul for that matter are in relation to what is actually happening in the real world. Two major experiments are currently under way in Europe from which we may glean many and useful lessons. In France, President Sarkozy is facing a major challenge, which is to awaken his country after decades of inertia, to clash head-on with unions and drag France into the 21st century. This is a crucial challenge in an important country, a poor copy of which Greece frequently aspires to be. The shortcomings we see in Greece are similar to those in France, apart from the fact that Greece does not have an administrative elite. If Sarkozy succeeds in France, we may learn a lot about the «Greek case.» If he fails, he will be giving a boost to the backward thinker. The die-hard fans of the status quo were encouraged by the events of the other great experiment, in Germany. There, Chancellor Merkel’s reforms paid off, but ultimately led to the next logical phase. As soon as serious growth began to become apparent, the unions and leftist elements of the social democrats decided it was time to slam on the brakes. The German experiment is now in for a real adventure. The comparisons end here, because France and Germany are at least talking about real reform after resolving their most basic problems. In Greece, we haven’t even solved the garbage problem. It is clear that when our European counterparts, back in the 1980s, gave us the money and opportunity to deal with such problems, we preferred to turn it into luxury cars and illegal villas. Now, we too are at an important crossroad. We will either move forward or sit here focusing on intra-party squabbles. To do the former, we will need a compass and political courage.