By Nawab Khan
Leaders of the 27-member European Union last Thursday agreed to a second bailout for Greece estimated to be around 120 billion euro.
The move is seen as a desperate attempt by the EU to save Greece from bankruptcy.
Last year, the EU and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) decided to give Greece a financial assistance package of 110 billion euro, but the economic situation in the Mediterranean country continues to deteriorate.
The new financial help depends on the Greek parliament adopting next week a harsher five-year austerity program that is bound to increase discontent and social unrest in the country.
EU leaders argue that without further support, Greece will have to default with all the negative consequences for the country and Europe as a whole.
Analysts, however, say that giving more money to Greece is like prescribing stronger medicine for a severely-ill patient without considering whether the treatment will cure or exacerbate his or her condition.
The media and think-tanks in Europe continue to be pessimistic about the chances of an economic recovery in Greece, while a feeling of helplessness and despondency hovers over the EU capital Brussels.
An analysis published by the Brussels-based think tank European Policy Centre warned that the “situation in Greece is becoming more precarious by the day.” “No fully satisfactory solution exists in this situation – unfortunately, there is no silver bullet,” it noted.
A commentary by the think tank German Marshal Fund (GMF) released in Brussels stated that” Europe’s slow and confused response to the crisis holds significant risks for the global economy.”
Referring to the regional consequences, the GMF writes that “an unstable Greece will have potentially significant implications for the future of the Balkans and the eastern Mediterranean at a time when transatlantic partners need a stable and capable Southern Europe to help manage revolutions and conflicts to Europe’s south. Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia are close neighbors.”
Reflecting on the regional dimension, one Greek paper compared the dismal situation in Greece with the flourishing economy in its neighbour and arch-rival Turkey.
“Perhaps Greeks are sick of hearing about Turkey’s success, but it is useful to remember that the current boom was born of the terrible economic crisis that our neighbor’s politicians caused 10 years ago,” commented Kathimerini.
“It was then that those same politicians summoned a technocrat from the World Bank, Kemal Dervis, and committed themselves to implementing whatever reforms he proposed,” it said.
Another Greek daily Eleftherotypia commented that “the problem facing our country is not only economic, but eminently political and social. The multidimensional nature, which makes it extremely difficult to solve, had already occurred long ago and certainly by 1980.”
European media are highly critical of European leaders and blame them for the current crisis.
“The financial crisis has exposed the deception and subterfuge of politics, yet the leaders of Europe continue to deny the obvious. Only honesty, and the courage to tell the truth, can save Europe,” suggested the Italian paper La Repubblica.
“If Greece goes,” warned the British weekly The Economist, “it would be a disaster for Europe”.
“The European Union seems to have adopted a new rule: if a plan is not working, stick to it,” jibed the weekly.
The only solution, says the magazine, is “an orderly restructuring of Greek debt”, no panacea in itself, but a solution that would give the country a chance.
Greece which is considered to be the cradle of the western civilisation, and Europe whose modern virtue ethics is based on ancient Greek philosophy should perhaps learn from the saying of the Greek philosopher Aristotle that ‘the virtue of justice consists in moderation, as regulated by wisdom.”
Only by implmenting the virtues of honesty, truth and moderation can Europe overcome the current crisis.