Moving Day in Greece

2011 November 9

Oia, Santorini

Original Article appears here: Finding the Hellenic Trail:


So, today, we get to find out who the next round of players are going to be in Greece today.  Papandreou has resigned, but did not name the new PM in his announcement.  The powers that be have indicated that the new Premier will be Parliamentary House Speaker, Filippos Petsalnikos. The conventional wisdom was that former ECB official, Lucas Papademos, would take the reigns of embattled Greece.  Rather than tap Papademos, the major parties instead chose from their own ranks, seemingly to maintain at least one hand on the self-destruct button should civil unrest reemerge in the streets of Athens and politics become local again, rather than European.  It seems as though the threat made last week by Mr. Papandreou to put the terms of the bail out package and further austerity to a national referendum, has had a possible tectonic effect of actually allowing the open discussion of a Greek “default” or euro exit and what that would mean for Italy, Ireland, Portugal, and the rest of the European dominoes.

Read more below to stay informed about the current situation in the cradle of civilization.

But this is the big news of today is Greece:

This is HUGE!  That this is being discussed in the media at this point is a rather large development, although it’s been whispered by lobbyists, pundits, and policy wonks for more than a year.  Until today, it’s not been something that the actual policy decision makers have been willing to openly discuss.  Basically what they are talking about is having a two tiered structure for the currency union of the euro.

“A senior EU official said changing the make-up of the euro zone has been discussed on an ‘intellectual’ level but had not moved to operational or technical discussions, while a French government source said there was no such project in the works.”

But even to be able to confirm discussions on an “intellectual” level, means that the actual decision makers and their advisers have already come up with a fairly detailed, “what things would look like.”

“This will unravel everything our forebears have painstakingly built up and repudiate all that they stood for in the past sixty years,” an EU diplomat is quoted in Reuters. “This is not about a two-speed Europe, we already have that. This will redraw the map geopolitically and give rise to new tensions. It could truly be the end of Europe as we know it.”

Opponents (read: most of the members of the currency union not named France or Germany) of this “two speed” European Union aren’t too keen on this approach, saying that it would be wasting all the hard work that has been done and the investment that has been made since the beginning of the latest world financial crisis in 2007.

However, those talking positively about “restructuring” the euro zone see it as returning the currency union to the path it was on before international greed led to the admission of the historically weaker southern European countries.

In large part the aim is to reshape the currency bloc along the lines it was originally intended; strong, economically integrated countries sharing a currency, before nations such as Greece managed to get in.

At least now more people are talking about mitigating consequences and coordinating response (although, admittedly, in a more competitive, less unified sort of way) to the necessity of Greece, Italy, Ireland, Portugal, and perhaps, Spain leaving at least the eurozone and, perhaps, the European Union altogether (exit from either organization was never really contemplated as members joined and exit from the currency union may actually require an exit from the European Union proper.  It seems now, with new leadership in Greece, and a new awareness of realities in Europe, maybe just maybe, some groups of adults somewhere can sit down and discuss what’s best for the world economy, the Greek people, the future of the EU, and the consequences of global poor choices, in that order and get along with getting this thing fixed, even if Greece, Italy, and the rest have to leave and fend for themselves for a while.

As the location of the city of Oia, Santorini suggests, the culture of the Mediterranean people generally, and the Greek people specifically, is one willing to live life on the edge of a cliff at the risk of everything falling into the sea.

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