Greece will not be saved with cosmetic surgery

Published 22.06.2015 14:59
Updated 23.06.2015 00:42

The clock is ticking and it looks more and more like both sides have come to the limits of bluffing in negotiations. The issue is not to help Greece to remain afloat anymore, but to show the Syriza-led government who is boss. This is why the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is still in charge, because creditor countries do not believe that the European Commission can be severe enough against a member state.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Minister of Finance Yannis Varoufakis have largely diluted their initial stance, but the seeming intransigence of the creditors goes deeper than a simple position of principle. Not only do the "European institutions," as we now call the troika, wish to see Greece abiding by the payment schedule, but they also want, together with the main creditor countries of Greece, to begin with Germany to see a real overhaul of the political system in Greece.

As Cyrano de Bergerac said in his famous tirade: "C'est un peu court, jeune home!" It is a little bit too short. To ask for a total revision and restructuring of the Greek political clientele system in exchange of a huge debt to be paid in impossible conditions is asking too much.

It has already become obvious that the repayment program imposed on Greece was not realistic. It mainly aimed to secure the banking system while asking for austerity measures regarding the huge bureaucracy and state pensions. The results are not very glorious in a society traditionally defiant of the state apparatus and where tax evasion is not the exception, but the rule.

The Greek public is more and more united behind Tsipras, first because they feel totally misunderstood and mistreated and second, because they also fear enhanced austerity measures and a possible crisis. A Grexit is more and more on the agenda, but nobody knows what will happen if Greece goes back to its national currency. Anyhow, a country ousted for the first time from the eurozone will not be in the best disposition to revise its traditional policy-making system. One can easily say that Greek people would probably be more inclined to get more introverted and more prone to look for external foes to explain the sorry situation of their economy.

More and more voices are heard asking why the Greek defense budget is so high and whether Greece really needs to protect itself from a hypothetical enemy that would attack from the eastern Aegean. Seen from an objective viewpoint, Greek and Turkish policies over the Aegean are a disgrace. Two NATO countries have turned the Aegean into a large scale maneuvering area where dog fights with extremely sophisticated war planes has become a regional attraction. The Aegean is the most protected region within NATO's operational sphere. And for nothing. International agreements, starting by the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, have projected for a demilitarized zone regarding the Greek islands. Over time, this region has turned into one of the most militarized zones in the world. The situation on Cyprus has further envenomed the situation and a lot of money is being spent on both sides for a conflict that will never happen.

Asking Greece to cut off its defense expenditures will be perceived by an overwhelming majority of Greeks as jumping into a sea infested with sharks without a cage. It will be up to Turkey to start the demilitarization of the Aegean within the framework of a reciprocally acceptable road map in order to implement confidence. All the Aegean needs are coast guard boats to go after human traffickers and to save illegal migrants from a terrible fate. But who is going to take such a bold step?

For the time being Turkey is looking for a government, which probably will not be a very strong one, at least one that could take such courageous decisions, preferably by firstly negotiating with the opposition parties. The situation is not at all suitable. Greece can hardly take such a step without risking a popular uprising.

But one thing is for sure, new proposals by Tsipras might save the day, however Greece will not be saved with cosmetic surgery. It needs a total overhaul of its relations, especially with Turkey.

Obviously Turkey needs to have a secure frontier on its Western borders, it is already greatly occupied on its eastern and southern borders. Does this sound totally unrealistic? How did the Schuman Declaration urging France and Germany to poll their strategic resources only five years after Hitler's suicide sound back in 1950?

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