Collective guilt

The Socialist government has been accusing its predecessors of submitting false figures to conceal the size of Greece’s budget deficit, putting all the blame for the current crisis on New Democracy. Incriminating the conservatives has been standard practice for PASOK since it first rose to power in 1981. The plan was to relegate the right-wing party to the dustbin of history – and it has done so quite successfully. Sure, ND made a series of economic mistakes, but it is not solely to blame for the fiscal crisis. Greece’s two main parties both clearly failed to manage the country’s accession into the European Economic Community and, later, the single-currency area. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is right in saying that Greece never met the conditions for eurozone entry. But our EU peers cannot pretend ignorance. Greece was taken on board for political reasons, just as the EU did with Italy (a G8 member), Spain, Portugal, Ireland and other countries. Brussels needed to give the impression that the euro could be adopted by the largest possible number of countries. However, once it joined the eurozone, instead of promoting the necessary structural reforms, the administration of Costas Simitis suddenly remembered its socialist credentials and pushed the adoption of unpopular measures onto the next administration. Instead of adopting fiscal discipline, we heard bragging that Greece now belonged to the EU core; a century-old dream had become reality. A second blunder followed with the decision to host the Olympic Games. The event boosted the nation’s morale but the scandalous squandering of funds left Greece with a mammoth price tag. When ND came to power, it did little to promote fiscal discipline. Meanwhile, PASOK caused trouble every time the government tried to meet its eurozone obligations. In short, it’s the two main parties together that have undermined the country’s path to Europe. PASOK must stop placing blame exclusively on ND as politicians of all stripes are responsible for the current woes.

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