Summit silence on Greece is best option for now

May 24, 2012

By Pierre Briançon

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

For once euro zone leaders did the right thing, the very thing they have been unable to do throughout the euro crisis: shut up. Their nine-line communiqué to say nothing on the subject was the only sensible option after their informal dinner Wednesday night. The other alternatives would only have made things worse. And whatever the pundits’ or markets’ expectations may be, it’s better for the euro summiteers to keep mum than to pretend having the answer which only the Greeks can provide.

Greece’s euro partners would like the second Parliamentary election, to be held on June 17, to become a de facto referendum on membership of the single currency. But they can’t insist too much without appearing to interfere in the Greek electoral process. The zone’s leaders are most probably ready to offer some concessions on the bailout programme to show that the euro is not just about pain and punishment. But they can’t reveal their hands before the election, because the radical parties rejecting austerity might feel emboldened and demand more concessions ahead of the vote.

Meanwhile, euro zone leaders and the European Central Bank must brace for the worst-case scenario of a Greek chaotic euro exit. But they can’t publicly admit that they’re planning for it, because it could amount to a self-fulfilling prophecy, and because markets turn south every time a European official simply mentions the possibility of Greece leaving the monetary union.

So what’s to do? Keep calm and carry on planning for the day after the Greek election – which, as it happens, will be the first day of the G20 leaders’ summit in Mexico. That may be difficult in a 17-country glass house and a 24-hour news cycle. But euro zone leaders must prepare plans for either dropping Greece, or supporting it with a plan to boost growth in an aggressive way. Strains in Spain, or Italy, might force them to the podium. But silence, in the next three weeks, will be golden.

Comments

Whistling past the graveyard?
No silence is not golden, it is deafening.
It is WAY past time to acknowledge that you can’t starve the EuroZone into prosperity.
Germany is wrong, France is correct.

Posted by MediocreFred | Report as abusive
 

Cometh the hour, cometh the woman? Please stand up “Angela Merkel the European”

Make no mistake, Europe is facing its darkest hour since World War II. The fallout from the demise of the Euro will affect all of us to some extent. Jobs and homes will be lost, savings and pensions will be damaged and the resultant social breakdown will undoubtedly lead to disorder and chaos, with who knows what other repercussions.

“To be Europe, or not to be Europe,” that’s the fundamental question.

Today’s European project was founded quite rightly after WWII by a desire to wipe away the legacy of a divided and war-ridden Europe, and to build a new continent of like-minded citizens, bonded together by a mutual rejection of Fascism’s divisive philosophy. “The family of Europe” was meant to supercede and protect against the distortion and abuse of national identity politics.

Undoubtedly great progress has been made over the intervening 67 years, and in many ways the Euro itself has come to symbolise that transformation.

Where once we had 17 different countries each with their own border controls and monetary systems, we now have open highways and just one currency that is equally viable and valuable in Dublin, Berlin and Athens.

But as with all families, there are undoubtedly going to be times when the bonds are threatened by the differences between the members.

Some of the siblings will be better at certain skills than others. Some will find it hard to let go of historical abuses. Some will be bullies and some will be martyrs. Some will cry wolf, and some will take advantage of their fellow siblings while happily pointing the finger at anyone else.

And yet, just as with families, it’s how you resolve these differences that define whether the family stays together and lives happily ever after, or fractures and experiences the torrid emotional, financial and physical impact of a messy family breakup.

Because being in a family, just like being in any sort of relationship, requires commitment, flexibility, forgiveness and an acceptance of your responsibilities.

Right now, Greece needs to accept its responsibilities and pay its debts or leave the family. And equally, Germany needs to accept that if it wants to be in the family, it has to exhibit flexibility and if necessary, a portion of forgiveness.

No relationship is ever going to be perfect, and we should all evolve a little more every day. But without the commitment – as mandated in this case by an election or a referendum – there cannot be a family unit.

Either we’re in Europe together – with all its associated historical and future baggage – or we’re not: it’s as simple as that.

So where does that leave us today?

As at all great crossroads in history, we need a hero, or in this case, perhaps a heroine. Stand up, Angela Merkel. But, and this is the crux of the whole issue, don’t stand up “Angela Merkel the German”, stand up “Angela Merkel the European”.

The whole debate over the Euro crisis is being argued and fought from behind national lines. Should the Germans help the Greeks? Should the Dutch agree with the Irish and the Italians, etc, etc, etc?

And yet that very positioning is missing the whole point. This is not a financial crisis. This is a political crisis, and the crisis is over our identity. Either we are Europeans first and Germans, Italians, Finns, Portuguese, French, Latvians, etc second, or vice versa.

And that is why “Angela Merkel the German” shouldn’t be standing up in Brussels telling the Greeks to sort their house out. Instead, “Angela Merkel the European” should be standing up in Athens saying: “We still want you to be in the family and we’ll help you, but you need to accept your responsibilities.”

Then if the Greeks still want to be Greeks first and Europeans second, so be it. Either you’re European first and foremost and you take all the responsibilities that come with it, or you leave the family.

Therefore, can “Angela Merkel the European”, or frankly anyone else who can stand up for all of Europe, please do so very quickly.

– A citizen of Europe

Posted by Agenda1789 | Report as abusive
 

Cometh the hour, cometh the woman? Please stand up “Angela Merkel the European”

Make no mistake, Europe is facing its darkest hour since World War II. The fallout from the demise of the Euro will affect all of us to some extent. Jobs and homes will be lost, savings and pensions will be damaged and the resultant social breakdown will undoubtedly lead to disorder and chaos, with who knows what other repercussions.

“To be Europe, or not to be Europe,” that’s the fundamental question.

Today’s European project was founded quite rightly after WWII by a desire to wipe away the legacy of a divided and war-ridden Europe, and to build a new continent of like-minded citizens, bonded together by a mutual rejection of Fascism’s divisive philosophy. “The family of Europe” was meant to supercede and protect against the distortion and abuse of national identity politics.

Undoubtedly great progress has been made over the intervening 67 years, and in many ways the Euro itself has come to symbolise that transformation.

Where once we had 17 different countries each with their own border controls and monetary systems, we now have open highways and just one currency that is equally viable and valuable in Dublin, Berlin and Athens.

But as with all families, there are undoubtedly going to be times when the bonds are threatened by the differences between the members.

Some of the siblings will be better at certain skills than others. Some will find it hard to let go of historical abuses. Some will be bullies and some will be martyrs. Some will cry wolf, and some will take advantage of their fellow siblings while happily pointing the finger at anyone else.

And yet, just as with families, it’s how you resolve these differences that define whether the family stays together and lives happily ever after, or fractures and experiences the torrid emotional, financial and physical impact of a messy family breakup.

Because being in a family, just like being in any sort of relationship, requires commitment, flexibility, forgiveness and an acceptance of your responsibilities.

Right now, Greece needs to accept its responsibilities and pay its debts or leave the family. And equally, Germany needs to accept that if it wants to be in the family, it has to exhibit flexibility and if necessary, a portion of forgiveness.

No relationship is ever going to be perfect, and we should all evolve a little more every day. But without the commitment – as mandated in this case by an election or a referendum – there cannot be a family unit.

Either we’re in Europe together – with all its associated historical and future baggage – or we’re not: it’s as simple as that.

So where does that leave us today?

As at all great crossroads in history, we need a hero, or in this case, perhaps a heroine. Stand up, Angela Merkel. But, and this is the crux of the whole issue, don’t stand up “Angela Merkel the German”, stand up “Angela Merkel the European”.

The whole debate over the Euro crisis is being argued and fought from behind national lines. Should the Germans help the Greeks? Should the Dutch agree with the Irish and the Italians, etc, etc, etc?

And yet that very positioning is missing the whole point. This is not a financial crisis. This is a political crisis, and the crisis is over our identity. Either we are Europeans first and Germans, Italians, Finns, Portuguese, French, Latvians, etc second, or vice versa.

And that is why “Angela Merkel the German” shouldn’t be standing up in Brussels telling the Greeks to sort their house out. Instead, “Angela Merkel the European” should be standing up in Athens saying: “We still want you to be in the family and we’ll help you, but you need to accept your responsibilities.”

Then if the Greeks still want to be Greeks first and Europeans second, so be it. Either you’re European first and foremost and you take all the responsibilities that come with it, or you leave the family.

Therefore, can “Angela Merkel the European”, or frankly anyone else who can stand up for all of Europe, please do so very quickly.

– A citizen of Europe

Posted by Agenda1789 | Report as abusive
 

essentially yes, however … there was nothing they could add to match IMF Lagarde`s blistering injection of truth into greek corruption and dishonesty

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/may  /25/payback-time-lagarde-greeks?INTCMP= SRCH

(quote) “The International Monetary Fund has ratcheted up the pressure on crisis-hit Greece after its managing director, Christine Lagarde, said she has more sympathy for children deprived of decent schooling in sub-Saharan Africa than for many of those facing poverty in Athens.

“In an uncompromising interview with the Guardian, Lagarde insists it is payback time for Greece and makes it clear that the IMF has no intention of softening the terms of the country’s austerity package.”

“Using some of the bluntest language of the two-and-a-half-year debt crisis, she says Greek parents have to take responsibility if their children are being affected by spending cuts. “Parents have to pay their tax,” she says.”

no reform, no money

stay corrupt, stay with the drachma

Posted by scythe | Report as abusive
 

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