“Sources from both sides said the meetings reviewed a track record of two years of broken promises to international lenders … Among a long list of failures, Athens has not completed any substantial privatizations and is behind on tax reform, restructuring the public sector and properly opening up markets and professions”.
Less than half a year ago, back in February, Greece had pulled off the feat of being congratulated on the largest debt forgiveness in financial history. Everyone seemed extremely happy for having been able to forgive so much debt and very impressed with the professional handling of the case by Prime Minister Papademos. The shared feeling seemed to be that Greece was now getting on the right track.
And then there was an election; and another election. There were election campaigns with all sorts of crazy things being threatened that Greece would do, and the world braced for what might happen after the election. The new government took over and discovered – surprise, surprise – that a lot of valuable time was lost due to those exercises in democracy and that the program had gotten off track. Once again.
I watched a discussion on Austrian TV the other day. One of the participants went overboard praising the Italians. What a great people they were; how they took the need for reforms seriously; how they were taking bold action; etc. That in and by itself was o.k. but what really hit home was his closing sentence about Italians, that “they are not like those Greeks who complain all the time and get nothing done”.
Normally, one would think that a new government deserves the benefit of doubt, particularly when the new government makes the kind of “appropriate noises” which the new Greek government has made. Nevertheless, it seems very much like the new government will not look into a lot of compassionate faces when they sit down with the Troika for the first time.