The Head of the European Commission task force on Greece, Horst Reisenbach, stated in no uncertain terms yesterday that he believes Greece will still be a member of the Eurozone in 2017.
Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Reisenbach said that now Greece had reduced its primary debt, the challenge was to strengthen growth and employment. Recognising that many people in Greece had made huge sacrifices and suffered as a result of the austerity measures, he was nonetheless certain that Greece’s governing coalition led by Loukas Papedemos had set Greece on the path to recovery.
Mr Reisenbach’s comments should be seen against the fact that March 20 had previously been viewed as a potential day for debt-ridden Athens to default. The manager of currency trading at Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking commented in relation to the Eurozone sovereign debt difficulties that although concerns over Europe’s sovereign debt are bot completely gone, investors now have more c9onfidence.
The new-found optimism regarding Greece is, of course, in part due to the approval by the Greek parliament of a new international bailout deal which will provide Greece with an additional 172 billion Euros. Coupled with massive debt restructuring, this latest bail-out is accompanied by a government pledge to abolish 15,000 public sector jobs this year, while salaries, pensions and other benefits have also suffered a new dramatic round of cuts.
So Greece, it would appear, is on the road to recovery. The Communist Party nationwide protest against this deal, which included a rally outside the parliament building, appears to have had limited impact. Meanwhile, the international financial community seems relatively calm about Greece’s future prospects.
It’s unfortunate, to put it mildly, that what is hopefully the beginning of the resolution of Greece’s sovereign debt problems has received so little coverage in the UK. A crisis, particularly a crisis in Europe, will always provoke anxiety and frenzy in the British media and in our political circles. It’s a real shame that solutions do not merit the same level of attention.