Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

Is the Greek crisis over?

No sooner had the Prime Minister of Greece made a resounding statement that the crisis was over and the country has overcome the terrible period of economic decline as protests began in Athens. The Greeks who took to the streets of the capital were chanting loudly, blaming the European Union in the collapse of the country. Is it true that the economy of once-thriving Greece is recovering?

Greek media quoted Prime Minister Antonis Samaras saying that Greece has brought enormous sacrifices and was leaving the crisis behind. The statement was made during the ceremony of the commencement of Greek Presidency of the European Union. However, residents of Athens that hosted the celebrations disagreed with the leadership of the country. In the streets of the Greek capital demonstrators shouted that the crisis was not over, and the main culprit of evil was the European Union and the austerity measures imposed on the Greeks. The crowd was not that large compared, for example, with protests in Kiev, in the "hottest" days of Euro-Maydan. Only a few hundred citizens took to the streets of Athens. However, this did not prevent the rally from clashes with the police and tear gas crackdown.

What is really going on in Greece? Is the economic crisis over as stated publicly by Antonis Samaras, or was this statement made only for the ceremony of the commencement of the Presidency of the EU in order to appease the European Commission, cajole the Greek people and fool the international community?

"Certainly, the protestors against the European Union and the policy of the "three," i.e., the European Central Bank, European Commission and the World Bank, were right," shared his opinion with Pravda.Ru  head of the Center for Economic Research Institute of Globalization and Social Movements Vasily Koltashov. "And of course, this is wishful thinking of the Greek Prime Minister. It is quite impossible to convince the Greeks, but outside observers can be somewhat convinced because they do not have all that information and imagery that residents of Greece have. Meanwhile, the situation in the Greek economy is very bad, it has not improved, and it is bad in almost all sectors. Only banks feel more or less stable precisely because they were the only ones saved by the entire crisis management policy of recent years, which is the norm for the European Union and for the Eurozone."

Numbers speak against the fact that the crisis is over. Unemployment in the country is still incredibly high. Greece once again became a winner in this grim race with Spain. The indicators for Greek youth is 70 percent, and 30 percent is the overall unemployment rate in the country. Scientific Director of the Institute of Oriental and African Studies Said Gafurov agrees with the fact that the Greek Prime Minister is not saying the truth. The Greek crisis "is not over and cannot be over, it just took the form of stagnation."

"They more or less mastered the budget crisis, but macroeconomic crisis is only developing and becoming increasingly more widespread. The situation has gotten worse, said the expert, stressing that only banks have survived the situation. "Greece no longer exists as a social state. There is a neoliberal model where they really managed to achieve debt discounts, that is, part of the debt was forgiven, and the other part can be paid off with installments. They were able to save large private banks. In this sense, the crisis is over. That is, in the elementary sense it is over. In macroeconomic sense it is expanding and evolving, and there are no prospects of getting out of it because the Greeks have chosen a false model under pressure of the "three," the so-called cyclic model of anti-crisis policy. That means declining revenues and therefore reduced costs. However, the reduction of public spending means a reduction in domestic demand. Social programs are cut first, not the armed forces budget. This means that the demand for national products of the industry and agriculture will only go down, and national crisis will only exacerbate."

For some time the Greek government had hoped that the tourism industry will help at least the local population to conduct business. Indeed, in 2013 a significant number of Russian tourists visited Greece because tours to this country have become cheaper due to the crisis. Vasily Koltashov noted that last summer the Greek government expressed gratitude to German tourists for coming to Greece. However, even the abundance of foreign tourists did not help the locals. Today thousands of hotels are for sale, and, according to Said Ghafurov who recently visited Greece, numerous windows of office buildings in industrial areas are shut, which means the extinction of the private sector and the production sector. The same situation is with agriculture.

"A huge number of small and medium-sized enterprises associated with the tourism industry, with all service sectors, are on the verge of bankruptcy or already experiencing it. The government did nothing for them, did nothing for agriculture. Agriculture in Greece is under pressure of regulations and policies of the EU. Greek entrepreneurs cannot deliver their products to foreign markets, while domestic demand is very weak. The Greek Prime Minister has absolutely nothing to brag about," said Vasily Kondrashov.

Meanwhile, during a ceremony at the Athens Music Palace the European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso reminded the audience that until recently Greece, torn by contradictions, considered the possibility of leaving the European Union, and now this country will chair the association for approximately six months. But what does this position in the EU give Greece? How can the ruined country use the new status?

"In the monetary area this can probably contribute to Greece, it will ease its talks with banks on further restructuring," said Said Gafurov. "In this sense it can help, but only from the point of view of the crisis in the budget sector. That is, there is no immediate threat of bankruptcy of the Greek state, but the economic crisis is very difficult. More than that, there is a prospect of a worsening of the macroeconomic situation."

However, no matter how much heads of the European committee are complaining that the Greek crisis is pulling them down, according to Vasiliy Koltashov, the Greeks are drowning alone. "We see that Greece is firmly on the path of austerity and in fact, this policy provides a reallocation of resources from the Greeks and the Greek economy to the countries of Northern Europe. If German workaholics are told by the media that they are sweating day and night to feed the entire lazy Europe, all these Greeks, Italians, Spaniards, Portuguese and even the French, all those who are not used to working, it is a blatant lie. In reality a relative prosperity of the German economy is bought at the cost of the destruction of production and trade of the entire real sector in general and consumption in the southern countries of the Eurozone," said Vasily Koltashov.

It is obvious that the Greeks understood this better than the experts. This is evidenced by the continuing protests, albeit decentralized and not too extensive, but occasionally flaring in the regions where hospitals are closing because of funding cuts, where support programs for treating addicts lose funding, and where the industry is getting destroyed.  

Maria Snytkova