O GLOBO Brasil (2011) - Interviewing Professor Stavros Katsios
1) Today is a crucial day in Greece. Analysts say that PM Papandreou will get the Parliament’s confidence vote he needs to get a new loan from the EU and the IMF. What do you think will happen after the vote? Will Greeks take the streets to protest a new wave of tough measures?
I do believe that the government will get the vote of confidence. I think that such a vote corresponds also with the expectations of the majority of the people, not because they are voters of the ruling party but because they are willing to give a second and final chance to the government of Mr. Papandreou. I think that Greeks are already prepared to face tough but just measures; and just measures are the measures which will lead us toward economic development and a bright future. The second wave of the measures came because of the government's luck of political will to change the structure of the economy and of the society as a whole; they didn't tell the truth believing that they can pursue the good old Greek policies: financing the status quo with loans. This doesn't work any more and the government must prove that they believe in the necessity of change. Greeks demand immediate action and I doubt it if the state apparatus is in the position even to move.
2) If Parliament does not approve the confidence vote, will Mr. Papandreou survive as PM?
No, he won't survive it.
3) European finance ministers are using a kind of "though love" with Greece, saying that the condition to lending more money is based on this confidence vote in Parliament that will lead to more cuts and privatizations. Is Europe reacting as it should to the Greece crisis? Is it showing compassion and understanding?
The condition is rather simple when it gets to money matters: Are you willing to fulfill the promises you made? Beyond any doubt some of the conditions posed to Greece in order to get the badly needed loans are not realistic and consequently stupid and counterproductive. In such crisis we do not need compassion and understanding. What we urgently need is a small and functional state to combat corruption and ensure economic and social liberties. This is something worth investing to.
4) Do you think it's fair for private banks and creditors to also bare the cost of helping Greece?
It's rather naive to think that a already problematic financial sector which has been in the last years repeatedly funded by the tax payers' money can sustainably take part in such an effort of political will and economic reason.
5) Will the EU survive crisis in so many members like Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland… It will dissolve? Will the Euro survive?
The characteristics of the three crises are not identical. The common element is the lack of overview and coordination in the fiscal policies of the Euro-zone member states. The EU will survive the crisis if it will demonstrate the responsibility of regional solidarity and of global leadership.
6) Should Greece leave the Euro block to sort it’s problems without so much pressure?
Euro is not just a currency, it's the core of an European and Greek vision for the generations to come. Forget the Drachma it's 2.500 years old; Euro is our currency and we should act accordingly and act now in cooperation with our partners. We can and must solve our problems in terms of reasoning spending, extinguishing corruption and eradicating the toxic parts of our state and society, which undermine any public function and every private initiative. We have already jeopardized the future of the Greeks to be born with our irresponsibility and gread. We are just the managers of this great country for the generations to come; we don't own it.
7) Do you think Greek protesters are getting inspired by the Arab Spring revolutions? Or are they getting their inspiration on Spain’s “Indignados”?
They like to think that they are a match to the their Spanish counterparts, but they are far from identifying themselves with them. They are three groupings: people who are angry having missed the chance of getting hired as permanent public servants, people who are public servants and protest against reducing their often generous salaries and people who are in panic and genuinly afraid of their future.
Your question implies the answer: the Greek state owned society is lacking the innovative spirit even in protesting: copy-pasting without touching the real problem, without suggesting anything new. The Greek tragedy is that the people in charge of these protestors are mainly concerned with how to return in the era before the crisis and not never to face such a crisis again.
8) Do you see hope on Greece’s future? Can the countries youth be hopeful?
The post-junta Greek society chose to maintain a failed state which allowed politicians to keep their jobs by satisfying minorities in the Greek public sector. Contrary to the billions spend in the corrupt public health sector nobody cares about the crucial role of education in shaping the countries' future; Greek education remains a toy in the hands of the political parties from right to left. As a result the three main functions of every modern social state: public health, education and security are among either the most corrupted or the most inefficient. Greek society made after 1975 a choice of corruption, of life beyond its means and of internal debt in favour of the older generations. This is the core of the challenge Greek youth is facing: to overturn the consequences of this 40 year old lethal policy and to offer to our younger citizens an open society full of choices and hope. As I am one of their greatest fans, looking at our youngsters I am overwhelmed by optimism.