“Live your myths in Greece”

The phrase “Live your myth in Greece” was, three years ago, the quotation of the touristic campaign of the once developed country of Greece. The Olympic Games in Athens, even the win of the Euro 2004, made Greece, once more, the centre of interest. Nowadays, this phrase may refer to a different meaning. Greece is again the centre of interest, but in a negative way. The “myths” could be all the inaccurate stories about Greece, about the Greek economical crisis and about its consequences. These myths can be separated in two categories. First, there are the false stories that some Europeans are spreading about Greece. Secondly, there are the others that some Greeks are telling about Europe. But, still, this is not a huge problem that we should discuss about. The biggest problem is that these myths seem to influence the opinion of a big number of citizens. Despite the fact that most of them are not really interested in politics or in economics, they form an opinion about the current situation in Greece. The main reason is that the logic and the truth always “talk”, but the “lies” shout! When someone knows that one’s opinion is not correct, he tries to be heard, by screaming, by humiliating the others and by trying to touch, in whichever way, the negative feelings of its audience. As a result, it is much easier to hear the lie rather than the truth. If someone wants to learn the truth about a complex issue, he has to study, to search, to “waste” time. This is why people are hearing only the myths and not the truths and, finally, they are convinced that the lie is the only truth. The point of this article is not only to underline why people believe in those myths. Furthermore, it is about answering to the most popular ones. Let’s begin with some European myths about Greece! 1) “The Greeks are lazy” According to the Eurostat, before crisis, Greek people were working 44,3 hours per week. On the other hand, German people were working 41 hours per week and the average number of the weekly work hours in European Union was 41,7. After the crisis, Greek people, obviously, work less. The unemployment climbed to 16,5%! 2) “The Greeks earn big salaries” The wage level in Greece is only 73% of the Eurozone average. One out of four Greek employees earns less than 750 Euros per month (Eurostat). 3) “We pay the luxury retirements of the Greeks” According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the retirement age, in average, in Greece is 61,9, while in Germany is 61,5. Plus, the average amount of the pension in Greece is the 55% of the average in EU. The two third of the pensioners earn less than 600 Euros. 4) “The Greeks are always on holidays” According to the Eurofound, the Greek employees can have 23 days of holiday each year, while the German can have 30 days, which is the maximum in Europe. 5) “We give money to Greece without getting 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. Now, we can move on to some Greek myths about E.U. First of all, there are Greek people who claim that EU is responsible for the crisis in Greece. They have not yet realized that the only ones responsible for the current situation are the past Greek governments and the mentality of the Greek people in general. The clientele relations between the politicians and the voters, the huge and disorganized public sector, the corruption and the strong and ineffective syndicalism are some of the reasons which led Greece to the economical decline. Obviously, the uncontrolled markets have played a major role. But still, they would not “bet” against Greece if there was no reason! According to another one, Greece should go out of the Euro! This one is, sometimes, a European too. If Greece leaves the Euro, the drachma (the previous currency) will be dramatically underestimated. But still, the dept will be in Euros. Consequently, Greece will never be able to repay its debt, even after a possible haircut. As a result, Greece would become economically drained and the creditors would have to erase the whole debt. This would also affect their economies and the Eurozone, which would show that there is no stability and security in the EU economy. Finally, my favourite myth is about the responsibility of Greece for the danger that Eurozone now faces. There are a lot of people, politicians and economists who blame Greece because it was publishing false economical data in order to join Eurozone. I cannot believe that Greece could trick the European countries, and especially the strongest ones. The members of the Eurozone knew that Greece was not ready to join the Euro. But still, they accepted it. Furthermore, the EU created a common currency, without implementing a common mechanism which would control the members’ economies seriously. The current control that the EU maintains over the Greek economy should have been in place since the first existence of the Eurozone. Therefore, Greece is responsible for the Greek economical situation, not for the EU’s. This is why, the stronger political union and, finally, the creation of a fiscal union in EU should be now on table!

Published on the Newsletter of EYP Serbia (European Youth Parliament),
October 2011

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