Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

Free lunch for wise guys

Ralitsa Kovacheva, February 25, 2010

The Greeks are striking. They protest against the rescue measures the government had to take so as to save the country from bankruptcy. In fact, the unhappy Greeks' behaviour directly corresponds to Papandreou's government's behaviour no matter that the protests are against it. As you know, currently the Greek budgetary deficit is over 12% and its debt surpasses GDP - 113%. In Greece, probably, people know these figures well, although until recently they refused to admit them. In the same time Eurostat is investigating the deals with Greek public debt, realised in 2001 with the Goldman Sachs investment bank.

Nevertheless, the government reluctantly took the measures, proposed by the EU and made it clear that it expected more significant assistance from its European partners and not just moral support and increased control. Obviously, following the example of its unhappy government, the population is also unhappy from the belt tightening, although this is a life saving operation for the country. The government is frowning at EU, even beyond the bonne tonne.

The Greek deputy prime minister Theodoros Pangalos told the BBC that the European leaders from the 80-s, like Margaret Thatcher, Helmut Kohl and Francois Mitterrand would have never allowed an economic crisis like this. And also that today's European leadership was at a very low level. Pangalos is also accusing Italy that it is much more incorrect than Greece regarding financial statistics. And claims that Germany should not criticize Athens because it actually ruined Greek economy and killed thousands of people during the Nazi occupation in WWII.

"They took away the gold that was in the Bank of Greece, they took away Greek money, and they never gave it back. This is an issue that has to be faced sometime in the future".

Germany paid Greece about 115m Deutsche marks to compensate victims of Nazi persecution, but Greece claims it is insufficient. Germany is the country which criticised Greece most vigorously for the irresponsible behaviour of the governments in the past years. The Focus magazine published on its cover the statue of Venus, showing the finger, entitled "Deceivers in the European family". However, such criticism appears to be stimulating the Greeks to continue showing the finger to the rest of Europe. They also inspire others to think that the eurozone is serving a free lunch for wise guys.