Avoiding a modern Greek tragedy

By Anton Colella, ICAS CEO

4 February 2015

Eurozone leaders would do well to ponder the words of the late Sir Winston Churchill as they respond to the situation in Greece. 

We are all watching Europe closely.

Deflation and the intense wrangling over the Greek bailout have provided much food for thought. Amid all of the debate and discussion, the one overriding need is to ensure stability.

Efforts by the new Greek government to renegotiate its estimated 320 billion euro debt have shone a spotlight on the inherent instability at the heart of the European Union.  

The new Greek Finance Minster Yanis Varoufakis has been holding a series of meetings with his counterparts from key European states, including the UK and France. He says he wants to see an end to "debt addiction" and a new financial settlement founded on growth.

He says the European Central Bank should treat Greece like a company which is struggling to repay its debt and admits it would be "foolish" to offer them more money.

There are stark statements, notably from Germany's Angela Merkel, there will be no write-off of the debt, while there are signs elsewhere of support for renegotiating the deal.

What lies at the heart of all of this is the need to establish common ground – to foster stability and prosperity.

This idea isn't a new one. We've just seen events to mark the 50th anniversary of the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill.  Some recalled his famous speech on the "United States of Europe", made in 1946.

Coincidentally this speech was made on the very same spot that ICAS members gathered for our Zurich Burns Supper a few days ago.

Sir Winston said a Europe which had just emerged from the darkness of two world wars should seize the opportunity to create a new, safe and prosperous future for its citizens based on common purpose.

What lies at the heart of all of this is the need to establish common ground – to foster stability and prosperity.

Perhaps the leaders of the Eurozone states, big and small, would do well to read that speech, which Sir Winston introduced as his views on the "tragedy of Europe".  Maybe that would help avoid a modern day Greek tragedy.

Topics

  • Political landscape

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