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Europe divided in three for the financial assistance of Greece

16 February 2010 / 14:02:27  GRReporter
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Maria S. Topalova

The crisis in the Greek economy and the inevitable (according to more and more economists of all nationalities and political beliefs) European financial assistance for the troubled Balkan country, became a bone of contention for the Union of the 27 countries of the Old Continent. Firstly faced with the need to pay hundreds of billions of euros for the criminal bad management of the Greek governments since the entry of the country into the EU and secondly the culpable negligence on the part of Brussels for an equally long period of time, the European governments, financial institutions and ordinary taxpayers came to be surprisingly unprepared to bear the cross of the European integration.

Not that the issue is small. As the Greek Finance Minister George Papakonstantinou himself confessed to his colleagues in Brussels today, the Greek government is trying to change the course of the furiously moving Titanic towards the iceberg. The bankrupt Greek economy is the first serious test for the economic development and prosperity of the eurozone and more economists believe that if the eurozone wants to be effective, it should fund Greece. Otherwise, what kind of club is not in solidarity with the problem of its members?

The blame for Greece arriving to this situation goes to all Greeks and their governments. They will pay the biggest price. But Brussels also has a fault, because it was an open secret that Greece was not ready to join the European Monetary Union. An open secret was also that Greece systematically violated the criteria of Maastricht and Brussels was systematically shutting its eyes to it. And right now the quarrels in Brussels are about how to share the bill of the great feast called Greek economic crisis.

The conservative core made out by the President of EUROGROUP Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Central Bank Jean-Claude Trichet and Finnish Finance Minister Jyrki Katainen believe that the only country that can help Greece, is Greece itself. Trichet did not hide his displeasure with the stability plan presented by Athens and sought additional measures that the Greek government knows are inevitable to take, but because of social unrest within Greece, it is refrained to put into effect. I am talking about the additional taxes on big capital and big owners, raising the VAT moratorium on the 14th salaries of civil servants and higher fuel taxes.

Britain, which is outside the eurozone and under the current situation will remain outside, happily rubs hands and says "I told you so”. "What do ‘exceedingly difficult and unpopular measures’ mean according to the Greek government? This means to make doctors, lawyers, ship and restaurant owners and make them pay their owed to the state taxes," notes with irony the left and pro-European newspaper Independent. Interesting is the position of Germany, which is similar to that chubby lady who is determined to keep a diet, but not from today, but from Monday. At the beginning Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel was a great enthusiast regarding the European financial aid for Greece. After the Greek financial crisis collapsed the euro, Germany's exports began to take advantage of the weak Euro and this led the Chancellor into thinking about when to declare support for the Greek economy. It came to the opinion where a poll showed that over half of Germans do not want Greece to be in the European Union.

And so, France remained the only country prepared to fully come to the rescue of Greece, and hence the eurozone. Not accidentally Christine Lagarde, French finance minister, most hotly supports Greeks against speculators in the international financial markets. If the French plan for the salvation of the Greek economy succeeds, it will win the title of Nicolas Sarkozy - the Savior of Europe. The question is whether the French taxpayers can pay the bill for the title.

And of course in Europe there are countries which are not members of the eurozone, but want to become such, and in some cases they meet the Maastricht criteria in a much greater extent than Greece did in the best years for its economy. It is very important what message will Brussels send to these countries. Let us not forget that in a club where there is no flow of fresh forces, it quickly begins to deteriorate.

"Funny money for Greece? Never again," said one British opposition politician and this is a lesson which Greeks have to learn from the shameful position in which they find themselves today. And what is the lesson for Europe? If Brussels has not yet understood it, then it may consult the Bulgarian folklore and the proverb about the lunatic and the cheese-pie*.


*The one eating the cheese-pie is not crazy. The one giving it, is.  

Tags: Jean Claude Trichet Jean Claude Juncker Economy in Greece
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