Sunday, 30 October 2011

“If I were Greek I would have sued my lenders”

A revealing article in the Handelsblatt

The journalists of the German newspaper Handelsblatt used this sentence to describe their experiences from their few days' visit to Athens of the Memorandum era and convey to their probably surprised readers, a completely different view of the crisis in the Greek economy and society, a view far from the official rhetoric of Angela Merkel,  Wolfgang Schäuble and the other European politicians.

The newspaper sent a large group of journalists and photographers to Athens a few days ago to live among us. What they perceived was the climate of frustration, anger and despair, and even the underlying social explosion about which they warned the German people. And they do not even hesitate to speak of a risk of "diversion", reminding everyone that the implementation of extreme political and economic "remedies" in the past led to dictatorships!

The Handelsblatt correspondents experienced the situation in the country first hand. They talked with politicians, officials and ordinary people, and they describe an "impoverished country, which suffers from a double burden: the chaos of the debt which it has imposed on itself and the European rescue policy, which makes things even worse"…

They talk about a depressing picture, about economic life which is numb, unemployment which is increasing and about young people who are thinking of immigrating like their grandparents did! They write: "If I were Greek I would have sued the lenders and would have gone to Syntagma in front of the parliament to protest my objection to a crisis policy which does nothing but make the situation even worse."

They warn that while popular anger is apparent and occurs every day, no one can know about other underlying "situations", refering to "the military machine that ruled from 1967 to 1974 and may be looking for the opportunity to act again. We know this from many countries: shock treatments are enemies of Democracy."

Particular mention should be made of the article editor’s view, which comments on the decisions made by our European partners on our behalf throughout this period. According to the accomplished journalist, "the treatment that is now is being meted out to Greece resembles the approach of the American economist Jeffrey Sachs tested in Yeltsin's Russia: rapid release of the labour sector and the economy, acceleration of privatizations and massive cuts in social spending, something that finally created the kind of Wild West capitalism that still keeps Russian society divided into billionaires and poor people. Sachs, who became known as "Dr. Shock", was forced to come out and apologize to the Russians,".

And the article concludes: "This role of 'Dr. Shock' has now been transferred to Brussels, Berlin and Paris, and the same treatment is being applied to Greece, where once again, people who do not know how to boost the economy and the working people have taken over"…

Here is the Handelsblatt tribute for German speakers:

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