Greeks must decide to cooperate first with Turkey and then to put some order in their economy, not the other way round
The great writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez narrates the story of a murder that everyone knows will be committed, yet nobody intervenes. The novel "Chronicle of a Death Foretold" begins with the morning of Santiago Nasar's death. Yet from the first page onwards, the reader expects and hopes that something will be done to stop the murder, which shows the genius of the writer, obviously.
When a great literary piece is translated into everyday politics and translated into international relations, it can become a fully-fledged catastrophe. The saga of negotiations between Greece and the European Institutions - the Troika - look very much like the foretold assassination of Santiago Nasar. The latter, however, despite being very sympathetic, was only a fictional character in a good book. What is at stake with the Troika is the fate of a whole population and a whole country, with the risk for them of losing their growth prospects and their dignity.
The EU member states have imposed a debt repayment schedule on Greece that looks more like a punishment than a solution. Greece today is paying for decades of mismanagement and bias. The Simitis government grossly falsified the national accounts in its bid to join the eurozone. When it became apparent that the Greek economy was not performing adequately enough to join the single currency - and it was the result of overt falsifications - nobody could punish Greece for a very simple reason; states are not human beings and a member state of the EU cannot be admonished by the other member states. The founding fathers of the EU never thought that with a functioning democracy a kind of "omerta" between different political parties would come to power. Despite the alternation, different Greek governments have not changed their policy and stance in seeing the EU as a cash cow.
When joining the euro, Greek governments saw an incredible amount of very cheap, long-term credit. This credit has been dilapidated, and when in 2010, the real budget deficit became impossible to hide, the EU countries panicked. A huge fund has been amassed to help Greek creditors recover their assets. The EU was also extremely scared that bankruptcy in Greece could ignite a wave of other crises, in Ireland, Portugal, Spain and maybe even Italy. So the "solution" was to circumscribe the debt crisis and to calm the financial markets. This has been achieved rather dexterously. However, the Greek austerity policy delivered only more economic regression, higher and higher unemployment, higher and higher debt.
Tsipras was elected on a wave of discontent created by this terrible austerity policy. Tsipras made promises he could not keep, like remaining in the eurozone without really abiding by the stringent austerity policies. This did not work, mainly because of reciprocal defiance and also the intransigence shown by Germany, the main creditor.
So for the first time in modern history, a developed, EU member state has failed to pay back its debt to the IMF in time. As Joseph Stiglitz has clearly stated in the Guardian "It's not about the money. It's about using ‘deadlines' to force Greece to knuckle under and to accept the unacceptable - not only austerity measures, but other regressive and punitive policies."
This is a major political fiasco, first for Greece, but also for the Troika and Germany. Turkey, through its prime minister and the minister of foreign affairs, has reiterated remaining available for any support it might be able lend. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has time and again opened the window of cooperation wide to no avail. Greeks must decide to cooperate first with Turkey and then to put some order in their economy, not the other way round.
The sooner the Greek government understands this, the better it will be for the Greek people.