The short-sighted narrative on the ‘Greece issue’ championed by the European Commission, the German government and shared also by our government, is that European taxpayers have forked out billions of euros to help the Greeks – who made a mess of their economy and then went on to create another mess with the huge amounts of money loaned – which they now need to repay back to the last cent.
We cannot afford to be short sighted at a time of great historical change in Europe; and Malta, in spite of its size, plays an important role in this scenario.
If we simply ask for our money back, we would be losing out on a great opportunity to help shape our future, a future which in many ways is gradually being formed by others in our stead.
The bankruptcy of Greece is not solely a Greek matter and the Greek debt issue is not simply a bilateral issue between EU countries.
Greece’s gradual descent into economic disaster and its bankruptcy is a responsibility we all have to share as Europeans.
When parliaments in Europe voted for the issuing of huge loans to Greece, everyone was aware that Greece could never pay those loans back, and we were also aware that the restructuring plans provided by the Troika, were neither going to achieve their targets nor were they going to lead Greece towards a situation where it could repay all its loans.
In fact, the targets of economic growth set by the Troika for Greece’s restructuring plan – a plan based on neoliberalism and austerity measures such as large-scale privatizations and wage cuts – have not only been missed but have also led Greece into even deeper problems and crises.
On paper, a 25% unemployment rate indicates a very serious problem for Greece in general, but in reality, the Greeks are hungry, cold and lack heating, the Greeks are substantially demoralised, miserable and depressed.
The patronising tone of super-European leaders such as Angela Merkel and Jean-Claude Juncker, who claim that European agreements should remain valid, despite what an electorate might decide, will only strengthen Greece’s prevailing feeling that Europe is not on their side.
Is this the Europe we all want and which our forefathers have fought for in the last Great War?
Alexis Tsipras’s public visits to sites commemorating the war against Nazism are not simply acts to spite the Germans as tabloids would like to put it, but are in fact, a cold reminder of what is literally at stake in the Greek crisis.
The European Union is failing its common citizens and the working-class, the same class which literally built Europe, is being decimated by the excesses of neoliberalism which the EU has been championing all along.
If social democracy and left-wing parties fail to prevent this excessive drive from consuming us all, Europe will go to the dogs, with the alternative case scenario being the rise of the far right to power once again.
Times are changing radically, and if we lose historical foresight, we will lose what we have gained through many years of struggle.
This is not the Europe that the Social Charter proclaimed it to be; a Europe in which every individual has a right to the opportunity to choose one’s career and field of work and make a good living out of it. Europe of today is turning out to be the Europe of austerity, of precarious work, of ghettos and racial tensions, definite contracts, debt and rent.
My parents, like many other Europeans, lived the European dream; they started from nothing but worked hard to be able to buy a house and raise a family and this dream will soon be a thing of the past if we do not remain vigilant. It is for this reason that Syriza gives hope not only to Greeks, but to all Europeans who are feeling the excesses of neoliberalism in a very tangible manner.
At this stage, we can either fight the new Greek government and demand to be repaid till the last single cent, or else we can focus on the overriding aspects of the situation: namely, the seismic shifts of European capitalism imposing radical change to our previously Fukuyamist static and ideal stance in believing in a progressively developing status quo.
Now, we are gradually succumbing to a situation in which, practically, the choice lies between socialism or perpetual crisis.