When I was a member of European Parliament from 1998 to 2004, it was a known fact that the economic condition of Greece was not that great. Since I worked as EU interior budget rapporteur during my time in European Parliament for two-and-a-half years and also acted as a shadow rapporteur for two-and-a-half years, I actively participated in the work of the European Parliament Committee on Budgets every year. During that time, each official in the European Commission interested in the subject knew that the reports on the Greek economy were always manipulated.
It was constantly discussed behind closed doors that Greece did not properly make use of the funds provided by the EU and its economic progress was not in line with any EU standards.
Although all the experts in Brussels said that the country was not ready for it, Greece was still included in the eurozone.
In brief, despite the fact that Greece is suffering from a financial crisis at the moment, which is gradually evolving into a crisis that could encompass the whole EU, Greece is not the only one in charge of this situation.
Of course, the governments in Greece brought the greatest harm to the country by irresponsibly wasting money for decades without conforming to EU criteria. This is inexcusable.
However, Greek citizens also brought the greatest harm to their children and grandchildren since they did not feel a need to question the source of the money that was extravagantly distributed.
While people start working at 5:00 a.m. in Germany, which is the most prosperous country in the EU, people in Greece have been heading to their homes to have a sleep at the same hour after drinking their last ouzos and deceived themselves into believing that this spendthrift way of life would last forever. In Greece, retirement pensions were so high that even the most prosperous countries would hesitate to pay such amounts. So retirement began to be regarded as a way of life reminiscent of living on welfare with large amounts of money won in the lottery.
The EU was well aware of such cases.
Meanwhile, the capitals of countries such as Germany, which shoulder the EU in economic terms, were also making positive observations regarding the condition of Greece.
During the years when serious precautions were required and Greece needed a warning, there was indifference, since the term "economic crisis" was not very familiar to the EU. The fact that Greece was a "project of bankruptcy" in its essence, which would lead even the EU into a crisis at the end, was disregarded.
The outcome is evident.
In Brussels, Berlin, Paris or London, no one has a right to take offence from Russian President Vladimir Putin. Speaking as part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit held in Ufa, Putin expressed the main problem by asking: "Where was the EU when the Greek crisis was evolving?" Like Putin, we all have to question the lack of intervention by the EU by the time Greece was dragged into this deadlock.
At a recent eurozone finance ministries meeting, German Federal Minister of Finance Wolfgang Schauble called for Greece either to record a rapid recovery or leave the eurozone in five years. He proposed this without questioning the abovementioned concerns, and his statement can be rightfully criticized as a populist move that only guards Germany's interior policies.
Schauble first has to question why the experts within his ministry did not give the required warnings or demand any precautions.
It is not surprising that Italy and France reacted to his proposal, which is rightfully viewed with sympathy by German citizens, because many other EU countries, including Italy and France, are likely to suffer from problems similar to the Greek case.
The wrong economic management of the EU, and the fact that EU countries did not so-called secretly abide by the rules they established due to the reasons of competition, compose the main reasons for the current crisis, just as we have witnessed in the Greek example.
It is an urgent matter that not only 19 eurozone countries, but all 29 EU countries must agree upon a common economic policy that can substantially function.
Turkey, whose EU membership is not favored, is currently by the side of Greece, and it is ready to provide aid in its true sense. Citizens of the Turkish Republic also try to support their neighbors in their own ways at least by going to Greece for vacation. For this reason, the Turkish lira is at least as functional as the euro in Greece. Today, many Turkish citizens are saying that fortunately Turkey is not an EU member in the face of the current situation in the EU, and due to the fact that everyone is putting the blame on each other when Greece is in question. The economic experts based in the EU should think about that.
If the EU finds a resolution to the Greek debt crisis by punishing Greek citizens for the problems that mainly arose from their own mistakes, it would cease to constitute a hope for the world.
In a nutshell, the Greek debt crisis belongs not only to Greece, but also to the EU as a whole. It has evolved into a crisis of existence in terms of the future of the EU.
Since this crisis has already exceeded the dimension of being a crisis that could be resolved by expelling Greece from the eurozone, it has turned into a condition that is observed by the international public with serious concerns over the future of the EU.