For months now, Greece has been negotiating hard with its lenders, with the economy clearly collapsing from the swinging of the pendulum from optimism to pessimism and the consequent lack of liquidity.
The bright sports and tentative optimism that appeared in the past have been replaced by deep pessimism. Unemployment, as recent data shows, remains unacceptably high for a Western nation. Businesses are closing by the dozens each day.
The country was unable to make a recent, relatively small payment – 300 million euros – to the IMF, thereby earning a not-so-honorable distinction: becoming the first country since Zambia to request its payments be bundled and postponed until the end of the month.
The nerves of all, collectively and individually, have now been stretched to the limit.
But there are many who, despite the continuing uncertainty and threat of collapse, feel vindicated and even proud. Opinion polls show this.
Small Greece resists, defends, and protects its dignity! The Greeks, they argue, are the bastion of the defense of self-determination and heroism. They have finally found their voice, and pursue an independent foreign policy.
Regarding these notions, they present as proof the new relationships developed by the government with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, despite the opposition of the West. But, really, is that reality?
How can it be said that that national dignity is being protected when the country is vilified daily in the international media, by many television networks, websites, and newspapers?
Where is our national dignity when our non-Greek friends and acquaintances ask us with sadness about what is going on in the homeland, and on the other hand often wonder, skeptically, whether Greeks are genuinely in danger of impoverishment and are truly suffering so much?
How proud can we really be when we hear countless negative and derogatory comments all around us, even doubts about whether it is advisable to travel to Greece under the present circumstances?
There is a huge difference between hard bargaining and our threats that for the sake of national pride the Greeks are willing to fall in battle.
In other words, they are willing to let the country plunge into the abyss and to lose substantially and for a long time, its dignity and prestige, and to expose it to multiple risks.
Ireland, Portugal, Spain, and other European countries have recently faced the same dilemma. They preferred to negotiate about – not reject out of hand – the tough conditions, and implement the reforms and make the sacrifices many of them know is the only way to modernize their economies, reduce unemployment, and increase their national wealth.
They know that is the way to protect national pride in the long run, by moving their countries out of their tragic economic situations. Everything else is transient.
The feeling of national dignity can be changed overnight. But empty statements lead to serious negative developments, such as the imposition of restrictions on bank withdrawals, nonpayment of salaries and pensions, etc.
National pride is – or should be – directly linked to the degree of national success, not failure.