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Greece in 2016 - unpredictable politics and deteriorating economy

11 January 2016 / 22:01:38  GRReporter
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2015 was a very traumatic year in the first place but on the other hand, it might contribute to demythologization of Greek society. Modern Greeks, especially over the past five years, have believed in various fables that we politely call "myths".

I think many of these fables are already starting to be forgotten. There is some sobriety in Greek society. But at this stage, it does not translate into something positive. For example, if a person believed that creditors’ aeroplanes sprayed a poisonous gas over Greece and now he understands that this is actually a fable, it does not mean in any way that he suddenly becomes a European-minded citizen.

People who are drifting far from fables at this stage become apathetic and I often hear statements like, "I will not vote for anyone in the next elections." I think that if elections were scheduled for tomorrow, the percentage of low activity would be even higher.

We are facing the withdrawal of parties and the complete discrediting of the political system. This also applies to SYRIZA.

What determines the maturation of these people for reforms?

It is very important that the opposition, I do not mean only New Democracy, plays a constructive role by presenting convincing, realistic alternative proposals to solve everyday practical problems.

I am not sure whether this is achievable, but it is the big challenge, especially in front of New Democracy, because it is the main opposition party.

At the same time, it is expected that it will increase its percentages by attracting voters from other opposition parties like Potami and PASOK.

We have recently observed changes in the government migration policy, even in respect of the terms used. For example, two days ago Minister for Migration Yiannis Mouzalas was talking about illegal migrants that should be returned. How do you assess the role of Greece in tackling the refugee crisis? What will the government's actions be in this direction in the coming months?

Alexis Tsipras’ first government is to blame for having attracted not so many refugees but migrants through Greece to Europe, with its irresponsible behaviour actually leading almost to the threat to eliminate the Schengen area.

The new position of the Greek government is now slightly more serious and more mature. Under European pressure, it makes a distinction between refugees and migrants. Reasonably, the terminology now includes the term "illegal migrants", which is absolutely true. I think that, again under pressure from the EU, Greece will be forced to accept international contingents under Frontex in the Aegean Sea and on the border with Macedonia. All this began after it became clear that if Greece continued in the old way, it would be excluded from the Schengen area. The danger was very real and is not over yet.

This led the Ministry for Migration to the decision to distinguish people and not to admit all of them. That "hollow" solidarity for all poor and suffering people to pass through Greece to Europe now belongs to the past year.

I believe that in 2016 Greece's position will be much more responsible. If the necessary infrastructure is created on the islands, the process will be much more regulated. And Europe itself is now more prepared to manage this chaotic process. In any case, I expect a more regular process of migration to Europe via Greece.

I do not know how the negotiations with Turkey will contribute to this, but there are some developments in them too. It depends on whether it will fulfil its commitments.

I hope that 2016 will not be marked by chaotic developments as happened in 2015. However, because migration is one of the external factors that significantly affect Greece and Europe as a whole, we must consider some other factors as unknowns in this equation.

Besides the migrants, which is a very big problem, things depend on what will happen in Syria and Iraq, on the outcome of negotiations for a truce that are currently in preparation, especially in Syria. If these negotiations fail and the battles continue in both countries, obviously this will ‘nurture’ migration flows to Greece.

Another unknown that must be included in the equation is the political events in Europe itself. 2016 will be turbulent, because there will be disputes over the referendum in the UK. Elections in France are approaching, which will take place next year, but apparently this will be a pre-election year for the country, which will naturally affect both it itself and the political developments in Europe. We see that Spain is likely to hold new elections too. Poland is a big country and with its new government, it may negatively affect the balance in the European Union.

All these things are unknown, but they may play a role. Outside Europe, it is not excluded that we may see once again instability in financial markets, as is happening now in China. The situation there has a very negative effect on all stock exchanges in the world. The crisis is not over. These external factors affect everybody, the whole of Europe, and not only it. The bad thing is that Greece is very fragile and it must be borne in mind that all these unpredictable factors can have a very negative effect on a weak country like Greece, which is literally eking out a miserable existence, depending on international aid.

 

Tags: PoliticsEconomicsGreeceForecast for 2016Plamen TonchevStructural reformsPublic debtNegotiations with creditors
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