No further tolerance

European Union solidarity has dwindled, as has tolerance of Greece’s aberrations. The extra 4-billion-euro deficit will have to be wiped out by 2011, which is highly unlikely, because even if the Socialist government were to take brutal measures, there would still not be enough time for it to muster the desired funds. The drop in revenues for the current year, mainly a result of the inadequacies of the Finance Ministry, must also not be ignored. The Greek government appears to be at a loss as to how to proceed, as the mood among European nations is changing. The international financial crisis and national priorities have driven Germany toward a more hardline stance and Berlin seems less willing to support more needy peers such as Greece. Prime Minister George Papandreou thought it made sense to publicly attack the economic policies of German Chancellor Angela Merkel in order to appease the audience of Socialist International, the worldwide organization of social democratic, socialist and labor parties of which he is president. Papandreou seems to be overlooking the fact that by putting his signature to the memorandum with the European Union and International Monetary Fund, he has in reality deprived Athens of any further say in its economic policy. In the same vein, our prime minister does not have the luxury of attacking the European powerhouse merely in order to impress his audience. To be sure, the Socialist administration has a soft spot for such public relations stunts. This may still do the trick at home where Papandreou can afford to blackmail the electorate by threatening to call early elections or backpedal when he deems it useful. Things are different on the international stage, which does not necessarily mean humiliation, as a country’s say depends on a nation’s leverage. And Greece does not have much of that. The Greek government must put all its efforts into trying to pull the nation out of the crisis while still remaining a part of the eurozone – because even that could be at stake.