The moment of truth

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Mr. Nikos Konstandaras is managing editor and a columnist of Kathimerini, the leading Greek morning daily.  He is also a contributor to The BusinessThinker.com

This editorial is also published in Kathimerini.

If there is anything positive in these feverish days, it is that no one can pretend not to understand the severity of the crisis, be they in Greece or elsewhere.

The fact that the government is preparing measures that include tens of thousand of layoffs in the public sector and a further reduction in pensions means that it understands it has no room to maneuver: It will do that which it fears will lead to its fall. It has to deal not only with the dictates of the troika but also the fact that even its strongest supporters — such as France — can no longer hide their exasperation with Greece’s inability to carry out policy.

Today not even the most zealous of conspiracy theorists can convince anyone that the turbulence in German politics, the cracks in the French banking system and the rollercoaster rides on the international markets are nothing but a concerted effort to buy Greece on the cheap.

The truth, though, is a double-edged sword, as foreign politicians and economic players have discovered after trying to present Greece as a ghetto of all the structural problems of the single European currency (problems that will exist as long as no mechanism evens out the differences in production and behavior between eurozone members). Populists inside Greece and in other countries are united in presenting a danger toward Greece and the European Union itself. When the catastrophe becomes evident, then the majorities in each country will turn on the demagogues. By then, though, it may well be too late for Greece.

The Greek government bears a great measure of responsibility for the crisis — for doing too little too late, for not believing in the policies that it was forced to carry out, for not restructuring the public sector so that it would not have to take measures whose outcome it cannot predict. This responsibility, however, cannot excuse the main opposition party’s tactic of continually taking a different position to the government’s. None of its arguments seems to be leading Greece, the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the international markets toward the path of righteousness; rather, the lack of consensus and the triumph of personal obsessions among our politicians are useful reminders of how we got into this mess.

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The author:

Mr. Nikos Konstandaras is managing editor and a columnist of Kathimerini, the leading Greek morning daily. He is also the founding editor of Kathimerini’s English Edition, which is published as a supplement to The International Herald Tribune in Greece, and Cyprus.

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