May 25, 2010
The Greek crisis brought ‘village politics’ to the EU, as Finnish foreign minister Alexander Stubb recently said. He also spoke of “an internal crisis of the Western world”.
Bad example is contagious. German Chancellor Angela Merkel staunchly resisted calls from other countries to promise help for heavily-indebted Greece. Ironically, this did not prevent her from losing the elections in North Rhine-Westphalia.
Then we saw a flurry of politicians, especially in countries where national elections are to be held, playing with the citizens’ fears. In this cacophony, markets stopped reacting to the leaders’ declarations and the euro plunged. This prompted some to consider the end of the EU monetary union, of future enlargement or of the Union itself.
What would have happened if instead, Merkel had been inspired by JFK, and said something like “we are all Greeks”? But political courage is rare nowadays. And there is another problem: in the cynical world we live in, politicians do not believe that citizens would understand messages of courage and solidarity.
I think their assumption is wrong, but we will all have to pay a heavy price for this mistake.Georgi Gotev