OPINION

Escapist tendencies

Being the prime minister of Greece must be one of the toughest and most soul-shattering jobs in the world. The magnitude of the country’s problems, the state of its institutions and media, the difficulty in solving every small problem and a slew of other obstacles must awaken an urge to escape. For the previous prime minister, Costas Karamanlis, his escapist tendencies were expressed by long period of inertia. For George Papandreou, I sense that his escapist tendencies compel him to jump onto airplanes that take him out of the country and into the international arena where he is obviously much more comfortable playing his game. The fact that Greece has a prime minister who can stand very well on his own two feet on the world stage is a very good thing but, at the end of the day, all the globetrotting needs to benefit Greece here and now. I hope that we didn’t make such as fuss about borrowing from the International Monetary Fund, the war against speculators and so on just in order to borrow at interest rates 1 percent lower than we would have had we opted to go it alone. One way or another, Greece will at some point be able to raise the 15 billion euros it needs before May. But the country also needs a premier who is at his headquarters every day dealing with the nitty-gritty and doing the grunt work required to slash state spending, calling his ministers at 8 a.m. every day to make sure that they are implementing the Stability Plan. The marathon has only just begun and Greece faces two very grueling years ahead with massive borrowing in 2011 and 2012 and very ambitious goals to curb public spending even further. This is what Papandreou has to deal with when he gets off the plane, and there is nothing easy or pleasant about it.