Athens, June 2, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency
By Spiros Sideris
“How can a country be saved”? The question was asked to the Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, who was invited to the third Philosophy Festival of West German Radio (WDR).
How does one save a country? Under the current extremely critical junctures for the future of Greece in the euro, the question could be seen as an exaggeration, a luxury after four months of negotiations. In this context Nikos Kotzias was invited, as the representative of a newly elected Left government, to give the outline of a completely different perception of how a fiscal crisis should be tackles, based on the Greek paradigm.
“I know what worries the Germans”
At the round table of the crowded central studio of WDR and with “interogator” the economic journalist Harald Schumann, known for his documentary entitled “The Troika – Power without control”, Nikos Kotzias used his arsenal of economics, history, philosophy, mythology, literature and psychology to prove how wrong is the austerity recipe and was applauded by the public.
And the ears of listeners heard that night all that can’t be heard in Germany, because no one speaks of them. Nikos Kotzias spoke of the stereotypes of German policy leading to prejudices between two nations with traditionally very close relations, for the German loans of the 20s and after 1945 that were settled with a win-win solution bith for creditors and lenders, for the haircut of bonds in 2012, of which 80% was in Greek and not foreign hands, resulting in Greece receiving more loans from its banks, universities, and hospitals, for the imposition of English law in the process of the PSI and to hear any disputes before the national courts of Luxembourg. But above all the pressures on Greece.
Unbearable pressures on the negotiations table
“How can we negotiate when we are suffering every day pressures of the press, such as, you’re lost, you will die tomorrow, you’re dead, you do not exist, we are not interested you, in Europe all flow nicely without you. These pressures come to the negotiations table and are condensed in the phrase: if you do not sign you will die. How can an economy go back on track when the world hears these things every day? The economy as you know is psychology. The result is for people to withdraw their money from banks and send them abroad, and if not, to hide them under the bed and wait for the destruction”.
Then would it be better for Greece not to sign the agreement, choose the default and return to the national currency, as part of the government support?, the German journalist asks.
“Do you know where the name Europe comes from?, Kotzias asks. “Zeus descended from Olympus and went in Libya. There he met a beautiful woman, Europe. He fell in love with her. He transformed into a bull and carried her to Crete. What is the moral of? This is an anti-racist story. The most beautiful woman Zeus could find was not in Europe but in Africa. And secondly, how can there be an EU without Greece, without this beautiful woman of Zeus? This is what the story is about. It is a matter of identity”. Apart from the mythological dimension Nikos Kotzias denounced the EU that in the case of Greece it ignores two basic elements: the letter of the law, trying to govern with parallel mechanisms, violating the European Social Charter and the culture of compromise and negotiation.
“Relearn to how to think”
The discussion could not leave out the scandal of Siemens and Christoforakos, corruption, nepotism and the new government in the example of the Prime Minister’s cousin who joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the reopening of the Greek National Television and Radio (ERT) with the reuptake of hundreds of workers in the public, and war reparations. The reminder, however, by the German journalist to the public that Greek Foreign Minister is an editor of, among others, the German philosopher Jürgen Habermas, urged Kotzias to bring the discussion back to philosophy and to interpret the financial crisis through this angle.
“All decisions at ministerial councils must meet two criteria that are forgotten in discussions”, he reminded. “Do we give the impression to societies that we are able to solve problems? How does the outside world views us? From what we intend to do, will Asian countries say that there is a European model from which they can be taught or will they say, Europeans are not able to solve their problems? When one forgets the big picture, when one forgets that one takes decisions of historical perspective that will affect societies, when one forgets that other societies with other principles observe us and wonder, but what are they doing with the crisis in Greece? Are they able to solve a problem, like the Asian countries succeeded in 1996, 1997 or not? In the world nobody will think what Kotzias said, if it is fair or unfair. They will say, they did not succeed, there is no European model. And we should reapply this form of Habermas’ thinking and relearn to think, to ponder, to keep a cool head”…
Conclusion: Tackling the eurocrisis is an issue that does not only concern one country and transcends the narrow confines of economic thought.