This editorial is also appearing in Kathimerini.
Greek society will not find peace unless it takes a different path. Rightly or wrongly, many have come to believe we signed on to the memorandum because certain traitors wished to bring the International Monetary Fund into Europe and the country was the victim of a global conspiracy. Society has also come to believe there is absolutely no way we will be kicked out of the eurozone and that if we exert pressure they will actually erase the debt and hand out money to us in the form of growth packages.
Unfortunately, New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras contributed a great deal toward the above by not sticking to his valid criticism of the policy mix, but instead using social media and other tools to foster idle talk of collaborators and demonizing anything to do with the memorandum. In the end he paid a hefty price as this gave rise to Panos Kammenos’s Independent Greeks and ND lost a large portion of the sensible middle class. However, Samaras did act responsibly when he supported the Lucas Papademos government and discovered in practice to what extent Greek leaders are able to renegotiate. In the end, however, he was punished for the kind of delusion he created in the first place.
So now it’s SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras’s turn. It would be a good thing for him to receive the mandate and renegotiate Greece’s loan deal with its creditors. European affairs experts believe that if he moves to a “selective write-off of the largest portion of the debt,” the country will undoubtedly find itself outside the eurozone, possibly even outside the EU. This is no scaremongering scenario. Imagine the reaction of European governments if Athens were to announce that it was writing off the largest part of its debt to them. And as the country would then be in no position to borrow, Tsipras and his government would have to raise funds to cover the budget deficit, in other words pay for salaries and pensions. And then of course there’s the question of bank deposits and how imported necessities would be paid for.
There’s another scenario in which Tsipras would threaten all the above and eventually succeed in striking a better deal with more time for fiscal adjustment. In other words a scenario that would have him succeed in writing off more of Greece’s official debt and having the fiscal adjustment period lengthened.
The big problem is that society will not calm down until we try Tsipras’s way. The biggest problem is that putting his way to the test involves huge risks for the country, risks of a kind that might be irreversible. That is why we must now speak as frankly as possible in order for no one to claim ignorance later on.
About the author
Mr. Alexis Papachelas is the Executive Editor of the long standing and highly respected daily Greek newspaper “Kathimerini”. He is the creator and principal presenter of the weekly news program “The New Files” aired in Greece for 10 consecutive seasons. He has been awarded a number of distinctions both on his broadcast as well as his print contributions. He studied History, International Relations and Journalism at Bard College and Columbia University in the United States.
Papachelas is the author of the books “The Rape of Greek Democracy” (1997) and “File November 17” (2002).