I consider myself an optimist. It hasn’t always been easy watching the Greek crisis unfold though. Not only were there many times during which it did take some extra effort to believe things would be alright in the end, there were also those commentators from either side of the political spectrum (and frustratingly often from outside Greece and with little understanding of the country) who knew how much better a Grexit and a proverbial middle finger to “the institutions” would be. If only they knew.
This morning, when I woke up from a rather short night’s sleep, there still wasn’t a deal. There was one a few hours later. Critics were quick to point out that the measures the Greek government has agreed to are pretty tough, which they are, while others made the point that Greece won’t ever be able to pay off all of its debts, which is also true. (I am actually in favour of debt restructuring, but at this point of time, with Greece seeking new loans, it would have made little to no difference.)
But the alternative would have been so much worse. For Europe, for the other euro countries but especially so for Greece. And politics is often about finding the miserable little compromise that hurts everyone least.
There are actually quite a few things in the deal that will be positive for Greece. Some of these are measures that will improve the country’s economic performance in the long run, but there is also an explicit mention of investments. One is right to see the many unemployed youth as a big problem for the country. But they are a huge potential too, which could be unlocked with the right investments.
For now, the banks are still closed though. They will remain so until at least Wednesday. After then capital controls will only gradually be lifted. The next weeks, we will no doubt see many protestors on Syntagma Square who will make it loud and clear that the deal goes against their ideology or their vested interests.
But some light can be seen flickering at the end of the tunnel. Let’s make sure we do get there. And let’s be kind to Mr Tsipras.
Grexit? Graccident? Here’s to Groptimism.