To begin with, this is not the first time that Greece has faced an economic crisis; this is the fifth time since its independence. Greece became independent in 1829 following the revolution against the Ottoman Empire and the military and economical interference of the strongest, at that time, European countries. It got numerous loans in order to promote economic and social growth. Greece had lost the most ”productive” years of modern European history, the years of the Renaissance.The fact that the Greek people were always proud of their nationality and because of their perception that Greece belonged to Europe, they felt the need to succeed with a quick development in every field. Nevertheless, the cultural decline of the preceding years, the administrative chaos and the political inexperience became strong obstacles to the Greek development. Because of this situation, most of the Greek governments did not succeed in maintaining a stable political system which would create the feeling of a trustworthy state that could lead the country towards sustainable development. Greece was based on clientele relationships between the politicians and the citizens. The Greek people learned to live and work only for the present and not for the future. Furthermore, the Balkan Wars and the First World War economically drained the Greek State. The Second World War and the invasion of the Nazis destroyed the biggest part of the country. It is a fact that Germany has never given any compensation to Greece. The Second World War was followed by long standing interior conflicts and the icing on the cake was the dictatorship during the years 1967 – 1974. When Greece joined the European Union, the Greek people were asking for a kind of “vindication”. Greece again lost the chance to become a wealthy country. Without planning for the future, the Greek governments enlarged the public sector and offered a lot of privileges to the people. The Community Support Frameworks were not used wisely. This also caused huge political corruption and tax evasion. Greece was fulfilling its new needs with more loans. The European Union was, obviously, aware of that. Moreover, Greece had spent a lot of time under the EU’s economical control, even during the last decade. It is true that the Greek government presented false economical data in order to join the Eurozone. Is it possible that the EU leaders did not know about it? Now, Greece faces once more an economic crisis. Every country which supports the Greek economy wants something in return. Three simple examples are the interest rates of the loans, stronger political control in the Greek area, and much lower prices of Greek public companies and services that Greece has now to sell in order to regain its credibility. As it seems, a large majority of young people generally blame the previous generations which were supporting and maintaining this political system. The fact that during the past decades Greek people were voting for the same politicians because of the clientele relationships between them made young people criticise even their parents. They are not ashamed that they are Greek, but they know that their ancestors showed indifference about the country and contributed to the political corruption. But, at the same time they feel that Greece is now more than ever isolated within the EU. It is not only that the EU presses Greece to implement even stricter economic measures. The fact that Greece is now losing a part of its sovereignty and its political control and that their future is once more insecure makes them feel alone. In addition, the majority of the European people blame the Greek ones for the current economic situation in Greece. If you ask the European citizens their view about the Greek people, you will even hear ironic comments. In this case the media may be responsible, as some of them publish humiliating articles and pictures about Greece. Personally, I just consider these to be harmless fun. I know that most of the people did not change their view that much. But, the Greek people in general, who are not that familiar with the EU, do not see this the same way. Obviously, the EU has made great steps in order to protect the Greek and European economy. But, what really matters in the end are not only the political decisions. It is the fear that this reaction provoked to the Greek people and the feeling that almost nobody really wants to support their country. Instead of this criticism they were expecting European people to feel sorry about their country’s situation. Finally, I think that we should stop searching for someone to blame. Greek people have to realize that this might be their final chance to change their country. On the other hand, the European community should honestly focus on the Greek issue without any prejudice. Greece has to change, but as a member of the so called “European family”.
Published in “BullsEye”, the magazine of the European Democrat Students, the student organisation of the EPP 09/2011