A Greek tragedy — Part II

Greece is the first port of call for the thousands of refugees fleeing the conflicts of the Levant


Editorial September 27, 2015
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras delivers his speech as he attends a news conference after a meeting at the Greek Ministry of Infrastructure, Transport and Networks in Athens, Greece, August 12, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

Greece and tragedy are almost synonymous, and the re-election of Alexis Tsipras looks uncomfortably like another chance to down a draught of political hemlock. He resigned last July having done what he came to power promising never to do — namely surrender Greece to the clutches of the lenders that have kept it afloat for much of the last decade. To be fair to Mr Tsipras, the mountain of fiscal problems faced by him is not of his making; he is merely the most recent custodian of it. His return to office is either an act of spectacular courage or of profound foolhardiness. Either way, brave or foolish, he is not going to fix Greece in the near future, especially with his majority much reduced, though workable.

Greeks are already suffering swingeing levels of austerity and the prospect of yet more of the same fills nobody with sweetness and light. Corruption remains rampant and taxation — as in Pakistan — a major stumbling block. The lenders retain their lien on national sovereignty, and democracy is something of a thin firewall between the Euro-bankers and Greek governance. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the fiscal consolidation and reform programme was designed to fail, and Greeks are going to be expected to see their pensions and child benefits cut further, with banks foreclosing on property deals that are no longer sustainable, there being no money to support a credit line. The oligarchs of Greece are unlikely to be effectively tackled by a weakened Mr Tsipras, and even if debt relief is quickly transfused, the economy is so crippled that it will remain on life support for years. To add another layer of tragedy, Greece is the first port of call for the thousands of refugees fleeing the conflicts of the Levant. The number of refugees flowing in far exceeds the capacity of the Greek state to cater to their needs even though they are ‘in transit’ rather than looking to settle. A chalice of hemlock sits on the prime ministerial office desk. 

Published in The Express Tribune, September 28th, 2015.

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COMMENTS (1)

Shalom | 6 years ago | Reply It is true that Tsipras and his leftist party has moved away from original demands moving away from austerity but shows that this change is for the betterment of the country. Greece owes a lot of money to creditors and unless fiscal changes are made which will hurt most of Greek people, things will not improve. Going back to people for a mandate before making painful decisions was the right thing to do. It is easy to talk of accusing those in power for all the evil when in opposition but in the driving seat, you see the challenge with different eyes.
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