OPINION

Left with no choice

The prospect of an extension to the repayment period for the loans granted to Greece by its foreign lenders, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, in a bid to avoid bankruptcy has created a mood of relief among pundits and government officials. This development, of course, has underscored once again that the handling of the issue by Prime Minister George Papandreou’s administration has been next to worthless. Furthermore, it is not yet known what the additional cost of the extension will be. The Socialist government has clung to outdated public relations stratagems and, at the same time, depended on politically inexperienced ministers who had little practical knowledge of economic affairs. The result was an agreement to a package of measures that were bound to lead to recession and which, above all, damage the interests of the middle class. Any extension to the loan repayment period, which indeed is a source of relief under the current circumstances, will only result in an extension of fiscal austerity and recession. The new European order promoted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel will not be an ephemeral one, as some people seem to hope, but it aims at eventually imposing iron discipline across the eurozone. The fact that after Greece, Ireland has now too resorted to a bailout program (possibly to be followed by Portugal and Spain and other members of the common currency zone which face fiscal difficulties) at least spares our country its exceptional (and thus humiliating) status. It is true, after all, that misery loves company. The situation remains critical and things are expected to deteriorate further in the near future as social tension deepens and the government’s shortcomings become more and more evident. So there is one thing that must become clear: Greece belongs to the European system. There is no «American policy» on economic issues, so to say, nor is there a «Chinese policy.» There is only the European road, at least for the time being, difficult and painful as this road may be.