Silence please

Prime Minister George Papandreou ordered his ministers to keep their lips sealed following the confusion that swept through the markets fanned by the rumor that the Greek government was looking to renegotiate the deal that it struck with other eurozone members regarding a bailout. Even though he should never have been put in this position in the first place, the premier was right. The result, however, is somewhat questionable in a country where rumors are treated as truth and a doubtful piece of information can be confirmed by anyone who cares to speculate. During the Cold War, when the collection of information was honed to a fine art, it was said that there were two countries where espionage could never work: Japan, because no one said anything, and Greece, where everyone talks. The Cold War may be over, but the chattering continues. The difference is that the recipients of the «information» are no longer foreign secret services but the international markets, and they don’t have the systems or the patience to sift through every scrap of information. Their mechanisms react automatically and their behavior is defined by rumors spread by sources of information that are deemed – though by what criteria we do not know – to be reliable. Yet in the past, when PASOK was again in power, information was disseminated a lot more effectively, especially with regard to Greece’s accession to the eurozone. We do not miss Costas Simitis’s administration, nor do we look fondly upon any of PASOK’s governments, but the truth is that there was a time when this idiosyncratic political party got it right, at least on the level of communication. Papandreou’s government lacks the gift of communication and his «technocrat» ministers lack the experience to handle political situations that arise within their ministries. By thinking out loud they created turmoil and so the order to silence was made public. How very odd.

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