OPINION

The Greek deadlock

Greeks have put their trust in the rationality and effectiveness of European and international mechanisms, viewing the so-called troika’s memorandum as a cure for the criminal mistakes made by successive administrations since the 1980s, when the country first joined the European structures. However, the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank are bureaucratic, not political, mechanisms. They are here to make sure Greece sticks to the guidelines regardless of what repercussions the measures will have on society and the real economy. It was not the troika’s business to examine the peculiarities of the Greek economy. That was up to the government’s economic policymakers, more specifically Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou, who seems to have acted as the interpreter of the troika’s will for the rest of the government ministers in Athens. It’s wrong to target the troika or the memorandum. Bureaucrats deal with numbers, not with the real economy, development or society. Their aim is to protect the interests of Greece’s creditors – and the IMF has never stopped repeating this in public. In a state of panic, the economic policymakers of the Papandreou administration have adopted accounting-style methods to solve the problem, which has resulted in hurting the already-troubled Greek middle class. These days, all the productive classes blame the deadlock on the memorandum. As a result, the government’s efforts are taking place in a vacuum without the support of any social group. PASOK’s spin doctors are blaming all the country’s ills on their conservative predecessors. But, as time goes by, their arguments are losing vigor. What Greece is paying for now is the government’s lack of bargaining power. Greece’s strength lay with its being a threat to the eurozone structure. Papanconstantinou failed to negotiate aggressively on that basis, which, according to some critics, is driving Greece toward a rescheduling of its debts. Ironically, PASOK officials have vindicated conservative New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras, who voted against the memorandum, expressing reservations about the deal’s workability.