Are we going to blow this opportunity?
If an independent observer were to turn back the clock, he might realize that since 2007, when the problems of the great crisis began to mount…
If an independent observer were to turn back the clock, he might realize that since 2007, when the problems of the great crisis began to mount, Greek politicians were unable to react decisively and orderly to tackle it. Either because the leaders and government were unable to understand the critical nature of event or because they did not have the determination required by the special circumstances.
Kostas Karamanlis belongs to second category. He became aware of the upcoming crisis but did not have the strength and courage to take the necessary drastic measures.
In September 2007 he called general elections and asked from the Greek people to renew its mandate so that he could compose a brave budget, capable of addressing the huge challenges that were to come.
The people renewed the mandate, but he did not take advantage of it. The measures which the circumstances demanded were not taken and about two years later he handed power over to his successor like a hot potato.
After triumphantly winning the 2009 elections with a ten-point difference Giorgos Papandreou did not take into consideration the warnings of the outgoing Kostas Karamanlis from the stand of the International Exhibition of Thessaloniki.
He insisted on claiming that “there is money” without realizing that the country had gone bankrupt and was soon to be expelled from the markets.
Today everyone accepts that Mr. Papandreou had a lack of understanding and was unable to comprehend the critical nature of the circumstance. Even when the markets shut its doors, he fell for fairy tales of getting a loan from China, Russia, the Gulf Emirates and elsewhere. And of course, he was being influenced by his American consultants, high and mighty academics, enemies of the euro who had one thing in their mind and aimed for another.
That is how valuable time was list in the winter of 2009 which inevitably lead to the bailout and troika’s embrace in the spring of 2010.
But later on he continued to sway. Up to the summer of 2011 he was struggling to decide between the euro and the drachma and sought out alternatives, before eventually coming to a dead end and asking to Antonis Samaras to form a coalition government. When he refused, he tasked Evangelos Venizelos to come up with a solution which was unbearable. So then he decided to have a go with a referendum, with all the known consequences.
Since then a lot has happened. The administration that succeeded Mr. Papandreou assumed the responsibilities and cost. That is how the country managed to find a way to escape all the suffering. The Greek people have no other option that to honor the outcome of so many efforts and sacrifices. It would be a massive shame to blow this opportunity.
Originally published in the Saturday print edition