Foreign Policy: The support programs for Greece were incredibly stupid

Foreign Policy: The support programs for Greece were incredibly stupid

Athens, June 17, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency

The country’s problems are not solved with short-term solutions

By Spiros Sideris

“The programs for the support of Greece were incredibly stupid”, says in the latest issue of Foreign Policy inspection the columnist Daniel Altman.

The question for him is not whether the rescue of Greece was a bad idea to begin with, as he argues that a complete collapse of the Greek economy could lead to social unrest and even conflict.

“But the way the Europeans and their entourage in the IMF supported Greece was impressive, unbearably stupid”, he says.

Greece’s problems – high debt, weak business environment and underground economy have no short-term solutions, but short term solutions, however, were those pursued with the support efforts, explains Altman, according to who “Greece continues to hold crucial talks with creditors because the payments it was expected to do and the reforms it was expected to implement accounted for expectations that were unreasonably short”.

“Simply put, the problems in Greece have long-term causes which have only long-term solutions. A debt as big as that of Greece does not disappear in a night, even with the hardest austerity measures,”, says columnist and adds:

“Austerity can make it possible for Greece to meet its short term financial obligations, but what is the benefit if the economy is dismantled in the long term?”

According to Altman, “the cultural and legislative changes required will take time. It would be wrong to pass hurriedly by the Greek parliament laws that have been drafted in haste for such fundamental issues, especially without building the understanding and support of the public opinion”.

“Finally, it would be foolish to believe that Greece will be transformed within a few years in a nation of disciplined and faithful taxpayers. Tax evasion has varied and deep social roots. It may be influenced by factors as diverse as religious beliefs, class divisions, individual psychology and perception of justice.

“Although some incentives may in the short term enhance compliance to the tax system, the commitment to the payment of taxes has more to do with the feeling of participating in something with a sense of justice – something that Greece, with the fragmented political world and the current loss of illusions, will take time to manifest”, writes the columnist of Foreign Policy.

According to Altman, “there is no excuse for the death imposed on Greece through 1000 short-term terms”.

The criteria of creditors were based rather on what was believed that Greece could do, rather than what the country was capable of doing.

“They also wanted to ensure that Athens will work hard for each installment of support funds, instead of ensuring that the Greek reform process takes place as smooth as possible. Given all this, it is not surprising that Greece may need a third bailout to avoid default in the repayment of its debts. A series of short-term treatments will never solve a long term problem”.

“But officials in Frankfurt, Brussels and Berlin never showed interest in the challenges the greek economy is facing.

Their goal throughout this period was to maintain the integrity of the eurozone, despite its faults, as well as their own infallibility. The irony is that they could have been closer to their target if they were thinking less of themselves and more of the Greeks”, concludes the columnist of Foreign Policy.