I read a powerful article today; I thought I’d translate it from Greek to English and post it here. The article was written by Kostas Rodinos and published on AntiNews. This is my very unofficial translation, but I hope you get the idea. It may give you a window into the way many people here feel right now. (Not all, of course. Greece is no more singleminded than any other democratic country.)
We don’t want any more salvation.
I was reading the headlines in the foreign press this morning. “The Greeks give the shirt off their backs,” wrote a German paper, “Greece is hanging over the abyss,” noted another, “The decisions of the Greeks don’t persuade the Europeans,” wrote a third. And up close, the bitter statements of our “partners,” who create this environment.
Fuck it all!
You have descended into repulsiveness. We are sick of you. We are dead tired. We can’t take any more.
A little respect… If you want to help Greece, do it in a way that doesn’t insult the Greeks. If, on the other hand, you don’t want to help Greece, why go on hassling us? Why don’t you have the nobility to say: “You’ve screwed up so badly, deal with it yourselves! Cut off your own heads for all we care…”
It would be an honorable position.
I would like to know who among you would ever dare to show up in his own Parliament and suggest austerity measures like those you are asking from Greece? Not one.
“Yes, but Greece is a special situation,” you have learned to parrot lately. Certainly it is the case: Greece is a special and unique situation.
Because which other Eurogroup country is facing external threats to her national security?
Against which other country do her neighbors make territorial aggression, and are her borders questioned?
Which other Eurogroup country spends more on national defense, relative to GDP?
Which other Eurogroup country receives the caravans of illegal aliens that Greece does?
Which other Eurogroup country is obligated to run an – even if faulty – administrative mechanism to keep hundreds of islands alive?
Don’t tell me you don’t know about all this? And to come to more … pedestrian issues: Which other country, just within these past two years:
– Reduced the quality of life of its citizens by nearly 34%?
– Increased the price of fuel by almost 100%?
– Increased sales tax (VAT) in some cases by almost 100%?
– Increased the price of public transport by 40%?
– Saw an increase in the rate of unemployment by ten percentage points (at least)?
– Decreased wages and pensions by 25%, and up to 40% in some cases?
– Is entering the 5th year of recession?
– Is being threatened with the institution of an external Committee (administration), or is being threatened to “yield national sovereignty”?
– Which other country has been slandered to such an extreme degree?
I very much fear that whatever measures we take, they will never be enough for our creditors.
They will always ask for something more. And that “something more” will lead to something more than that “something more.”
I am certain that even if the Greek Parliament voted a minimum wage of 100 euros per month and a maximum Social Security retirement pension of 200 euros per month, still they would not be satisfied.
Why? Because I begin to suspect that the continuation of the Greek crisis is, for some, a convenient excuse:
– to destabilize the values of the European social state
– to install a type of overseership on the smaller countries
– to play profiteering games
– to come here and snatch up properties for a penny
– to present us as a “special case” and an example to be avoided for any future naughty countries.
I am sorry, but this tactic has no future. I will never forget how, years ago, I visited an acquaintaince of mine in the hospital, who was dying of cancer. While we spoke, a nurse came to administer his chemotherapy. He looked at her calmly and he said: “Tell the doctor that I don’t want any more salvation! I can’t take it anymore.”
“And what do you suggest?” you will ask.
I read an article this morning by El-Erian in the Financial Times with the title “The Greek deal faces the fate of its forebears,” which begins as follows: [article quotes first paragraph of linked FT article]
Well then, what are we arguing about? In other words, the much advertised deal is considered terminally ill before it’s even voted!
The only solution that remains:
First, we should ask the Troika to leave the country. Their recipe has failed. They are leading us to catastrophe.
Secondly, elections should immediately be called. Today’s Parliament in no way expressses the popular will and has no legal right to make decisions that hold sway over the future of this country for decades.
Thirdly, the new government should take it upon itself to, within the first trimester, present a program for the way out of the abyss. A program that does not humiliate the country and one that can actually be put into play. If the EU wants to support it, that’s great. If not, that’s great too.
“And with your 14.4 billion in bonds maturing in March, what will happen?” Manolis Kapsis would ask. The political parties would announce that with the call for elections, the Greek state is willing to renew that bond, with its original terms, and with maturation date of March, 2042. Take it or leave it.
“But isn’t that a recipe for default?” some will ask.
I close, with a few further notes:
First, they have been blackmailing us for two years with the threat of default. I say we call their bluff. Because, if they mean it, they’d do it in any case, so why put up with a catastrophic ‘deal’?
Secondly, if they really wanted to “save” us, they would have done so.
Thirdly, the dignity of the nation is not for sale. They cannot save us and humiliate us.
P.S. Reuters began relaying Mr. Schauble’s statement before I finished writing this, according to which it seems he is saying that with the new program, the Greek debt is not necessarily to be considered ‘manageable.’ Already the undermining of the new program has begun.
By Kostas Rodinos.