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December 7, 2019
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Unfair and counterproductive

The Greek people made many sacrifices to keep their country in the European Union and the eurozone. This was perhaps because the vast majority believed that Europe offered a safe haven in a volatile region.

Today, however, European governments appear to want Greece to overcome the huge challenges that it faces on its own. This is inappropriate and it could easily drive the Greek public to frustration, even leave them with a sense of betrayal.

First, Greece is expected to pay back the European loans while being kept in the straitjacket of high primary budget surplus targets. International experts say the 3.5 percent target is absurd and counterproductive. However, the target is treated by the country’s creditors like some sacred axiom. There’s certainly talk about lowering the benchmark, but no one seems willing to take the initiative to do so.

Second, Greece is expected to handle on its own a migrant/refugee crisis which is not of its own making, but rather a product of geography. Sure, Greece is receiving significant financial assistance from the European Union but this is not enough to offset the political and social implications that are now beginning to unfold.

Finally, Greece is, again, on its own in dealing with Turkey. Our northern partners do not appear to grasp the need to modernize Greek military equipment. Worse, they complain because we spend, or plan to spend, money to purchase defense systems from third countries. It is a typical case of geopolitical thinking being held ransom to a strictly accounting-based approach.

I am absolutely certain that if a northern country had gone through the difficulties Greece has, the political and social turmoil would continue. I also realize that the absence of a strong leadership in Berlin, combined with domestic political developments in Germany and other countries, leaves little room for optimism that something will change for Greece and that our country will see any meaningful European solidarity, on any of the three issues, in the near future. And all that is unfair and counterproductive for Europe itself.

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