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Greece's financial landmarks
by Thanos Kalamidas
2010-04-27 07:46:06
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Greece is a country reference with historical landmarks not only for the nation but for the whole globe. Great battles, strangles for independence, freedom and democracy, the beginnings of philosophy and science, master personas, inspiring acts. And we came to the beginning of the 21st century for Greece to add another landmark not only in her history but in global history becoming the first victim of the economic wars, the new form of conflict in the western world.

This is a landmark that marks the end of an era in the Greek history that lasted nearly four decades and even thought it started with a liberation led to a much worst enslavement and the entrance of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Greece is not something simple that will not influence future events in Europe and the European union.

Greece after the independence from the Ottoman Empire strangle for decades to stand up. The Ottoman Empire had stripped the Greek nation from all kinds of resources, natural and physical and the conflict with turkey seemed never to end. In the beginning, early 19th century it was a small part of the Greek land freed and it took nearly a century, a series of local wars, Balkan wars and a world war to free the land and come to the nation we know now. The end of the WWI found Greece once more in pieces strangling to survive financially and succeeding only with the help of the European allies mainly France.

But nothing was easy and the conflicts continue, this time leading to civil uprising. A series of right in the limits to extreme right governments and a series of disturbing monarchs who felt that they were ruling a colony of slaves and not an independent country was natural to lead people react and act violently and if the WWII hadn’t started in 39 the act would have started much earlier. However the WWII managed to united the Greeks but the Nazis gave a lethal hit to the Greek economy totally stripping what was left from the Greek economy and moving every single left over to the east front or to Berlin.

Then came the civil war and five years of civil war leaves deep scars to any nation that has gone through this adventure. The years that followed the civil war were years of deep depression for every part of the Greek society. And then the army coup came at 1967 to give the final hit. For seven years every single resource was strangled to the last bit, Greeks met exile, torture and death. The limited funds were wasted in the hands of dictators that hold a nation in the point of a gun and the people felt that this is the bottom of their dignity.

And then it was 1974, the end of the dictatorship and the beginning of a new era, democracy at last was here, freedom was here. The communist party after decades was legal and people were free to express their ideas. To say that you are a socialist suddenly was a privilege a well earned privilege. I used the example of the legal communist party not because the communist party has or had so big power but it was a sign of freedom.  A decade before if you were arrested and accused for communist you were endangered the death penalty as a spy or traitor however weird and outlandish this might sound five decades after.

I will use a personal example to give an idea how people felt after the fall of democracy. When I was kid my parents felt that they were obliged to have on the table for me meat daily. Nowadays we know how good that is but then it was so important for them, for a generation that thought of meat as a far away dream, something only the really rich can have. Something similar happened to whole Greece after the fall of the dictatorship, freedom over-intoxicated everybody including the people who were elected to protect and guard the people, their freedom and their prosperity. The meantime Greece was starting a race to cutch the other European countries having lost centuries from a race that had started for most of them long time ago even for countries that lived under the soviet ruling. It’s important to point that a lot of the financial and legal foundations for the Modern Greek state were established after 1981, just two and three decades ago.

Coming out of wars, civil war and a dictatorship with no funds it was natural for the Greek governments to turn into borrowing money and the same time as I said before intoxicated from all this new freedom the politicians lost control with first Andreas Papandreou - father of today's Prime minister, nepotism another problem with Greek politics - who managed in two decades to do as much good so much harm to the country. From one side he entered Greece to the international scene as a legitimate player, gave back to the Greek people their lost dignity and the same time trying to remembered as the historical savour of the nation he wasted the last funds that could hold the country out of financial catastrophe.

Then it was like a domino effect, one after the other the governors were more interest in their personal acceptance based in a corrupted system that kept the people happy near the elections time and their personal army of followers the rest of the time. Believe it or not the organization of the corruption and doping Games, alas modern Olympic Games was the final hit. Greece is a poor agricultural country without any special natural resources or heavy industry. Actually tourism is Greece’s heavy industry and the Greek economy represents less than 2% of the European economy. Greece gives Europe the necessary historical identity and symbolises the past and future of the unity but today Greece is a very poor country with people lost in a conflict much bigger than them and the time has come for the Greek people to understand that there is only one way to stand up and that is in unity and taking over the responsibility former mistakes have lay on them.

In the beginning of this I mentioned the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and I have to admit that I am quite impressed with the tolerance and the understanding they have shown to the Greek problem, a tolerance that occasionally makes the Greek European partners look like the bad guys who want to see the Mediterranean country literally on her knees. The truth is that the IMF was looking for long time for a chance to get inside the European financial affairs and a well known secret is that the IMF is not a humanitarian organization but the spear of the American interests worldwide. So the insecurity the European partners brought to Greece, especially the German behaviour has opened the south door to the IMF to enter Europe with – at least for me – not so clear agenda and results.

It is long time I’m talking about the war between Europe and USA, a war that at them moment is limited behind executive and accounting offices but with the entrance of IMF in the European affairs things are changing and it is worth to watch how dollar is going to do the next few weeks.

Of course there is another explanation a bit more naïve, IMF has suffered the last decades a lot of damage in its reputation looking more like the boogie-man who drinks the blood of the poor workers representing the rawest side of capitalism and perhaps helping, sincerely helping Greece might help their PR and they might want to show that they are not the boogie-man but an international monetary fund always ready to help a nation in trouble.

At the moment the Greek government has opened all the options waiting to see who is ready to really help naturally expecting first the European partners to do the necessary steps. One way or another the Greek people will have to pay probably for generations the mistakes of an intoxicated, corrupted and sometimes idiotic leadership that ruled the country the last century.

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