By René Zeyer, Basel Zeitung
Eight years of crisis, eight years of alleged help from the EU have created a country where deep hopelessness, agony,cynicism and despair reign.
There is good news in connection with Greece: Germany has made almost 3 billion euros in interest income with its “aid” payments. Is that cynical? No, that’s worse, its inhumane.
Of course, the Greeks themselves are responsible for cheating themselves into the eurozone and then, fueled by low interest rates, debts have gone wild. But they do not deserve their current fate.
In total, since 2010, more than 270 billion euros have flowed to Greece. More specifically, most billions turned on their heels and were used for debt services. Now that the final installment of 15 billion is to be paid in early August, Greece can allegedly be released back to the financial market to finance itself. However, the country is still under observation until 2060 (this is not a typo) and is expected to achieve primary surpluses for the next 42 years, so government revenues before debt services should be larger than government spending.
Is that reasonable? No, that is completely absurd and has not been accomplished by any state in modern times.
So that Greece does not collapse immediately when it turns for new money to the international financial markets, it has agreed at the same time that it will take years of delays to repay loans and interest payments. All this mumbo jumbo is needed to fulfill, above all, Germany’s wish that the term ‘debt cutting’ in connection to Greece should never be used again. Because the government of the Federal Republic has repeatedly promised its taxpayers that they will never be asked to foot the bill as the most important creditors of Greece.
Is this promise believable? No, it’s an outright lie!
Greece will not achieve primary surpluses year on year until 2060, nor will it reduce its public debt of around 180 per cent of GDP, that is to say 350 billion, to a tolerable level, without a cut.
EU Monetary Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said after the decision for this alleged last financial injection: “The Greek crisis is over tonight.” The country’s finance minister, Euclid Zakalotos, added: “I think this is the end of the Greek crisis.” Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras demonstratively put on a tie again; he had promised to do that when the crisis was over. All three gentlemen must be careful, however, that their ties do not turn into gallows, with which they are knotted by the Greek people.
Is that exaggerated? No, this reaction is quite possible given the real situation in Greece.
The Greek pensions have been cut step by step by 60 percent so far, the next cut is due in January 2019. Every third retirement pension is already less than 500 euros a month, with living costs similar to central Europe’s. In general, incomes have fallen below the level of 2003. And this for the Greeks who have a job at all, the official unemployment rate being around 20 percent and youth unemployment over 45 percent. Not to speak of the over 300 000 young and qualified Greeks who have already emigrated. More than 40 percent of Greeks cannot pay rent and bills on time.
The health care system is in a desolate condition; more than 50,000 Greeks are said to have died in recent years because they could not afford medical treatment. Three out of eleven million Greeks are no longer covered by health insurance. It is common, as in the Third World, for patients to bring bed linen and toiletries to the hospital; a baksheesh helps to speed up a treatment provided that the machines work and medication is available.
Eight years of crisis, eight years of alleged ‘help’ from the EU, have created a country where deep hopelessness, agony, despair and cynicism reign. The European as well as the Swiss public is distracted by other concerns occupying the limelight. Elections in Turkey, the raging of the US President, the World Cup, the tourism kitsch postcard idyll that has nothing to do with reality. What’s the interests of more of the same news from Greece? Only cheers from Eurocrats and Greek politicians, low moans and sighs of Greek people.
So far, every Greek tragedy has come to an end, at the latest in the ‘Exodos’, the time for ‘catharsis’, that is a resolution, a change of mind and purification. The Greeks are being promised this for the year 2060! More than two generations ahead! From where should the Greeks draw the optimism that one needs to achieve a little happiness, educate, work, start a family and have a prospect for a better life?
All one can witness is deep respect for the Greeks, who endure these torments without end.