The Government Vice-President, Yiannis Dragasakis, argued in an article in the Financial Times published on Tuesday that Greece is not asking to be treated differently but to be treated equally.
“It is a common belief that the Greek government is seeking special treatment relative to other stressed eurozone members. We are not; we are seeking equal treatment,” Dragasakis says in the article titled “All we ask is that Europe give Greece a chance.”
The government VP goes on to describe how the Greek crisis has deteriorated the economy and thrown it into the vicious circle of recession, unemployment and lack of growth.
“Since the onset of the crisis, our economy has shrunk 26 percent; unemployment has risen from 8 to 26 percent and wages have declined 33 percent. These outcomes are worse than those experienced by any country during the 1930s and far worse than those projected under the two Greek adjustment programs. This is why the Greek government has criticized these programs.”
He argues that the euro’s progenitors envisaged a monetary union resembling the classical gold standard, under which adjustment between countries with external surpluses and those with external deficits was symmetric. “Under the euro, the burden of adjustment rests on deficit countries. Between 2008 and 2014, the external balances of the stressed countries have swung from huge deficits to surpluses. The external surpluses of the core are unchanged.”
As a result, the country is in a position like that of Sisyphus, Dragasakis says, a man condemned to roll a boulder to the top of a hill, only to see it roll down again. “Greeks have implemented austerity and have suffered much more than expected. Many of the 60 percent of young people out of work will one day be reclassified as long-term unemployed. We risk condemning an entire generation to a future without hope. To avoid that, what we ask from our eurozone partners is to treat Greece as an equal and help us escape from this Sisyphean trap.”
The article was co-written by Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, and Minister for international economic affairs Euclid Tsakalotos.