Walking on the street we often confront people whose faces are full of sadness and dissatisfaction. They walk in an imperious way and it looks like something troubles them. But it is normal because of the things that take place in the country and the era we live in. Let me introduce myself. I am Ioanna Karamitrousi, I am from Greece and I am studying political sciences at the Democritus University of Thrace. I also participate in many simulation activities all over the world as a member of the model European Parliament. Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to deal with politics. Why political sciences? Everything around us is related to politics. As Aristotle said, people are naturally political animals.
Let’s go back to our topic now. Also, let’s go back a few years. It was a cold morning in 2008. Waking up and casually changing channels on TV, I realized that reporters and political analysts were talking about unspeakable things; at least that was what I thought at the moment. I was just 15 years old. I was scared. “What does crisis mean? Is our country bankrupt?” I was wondering.
Eventually, I realized that the crisis is not only economic but also institutional, as well as a crisis of values. The crisis is global. It has no boundaries. It’s all a cycle according to international economics. All that I have described above is the main reason why people distrust institutions and no longer wish to get involved in politics. They do not feel the need to vote in elections or participate actively in the governance and decision-making procedures. Instead, people become passive in their social and political life.
The hard truth is that the weight of the austerity measures is falling unequally upon the people who bear the least responsibility for the creation of the debt debacle and who stand to suffer the most from the policies chosen to get Greece out of its hole. They are Greek citizens as well as thousands of migrants and asylum seekers. They feel that a large share of responsibility for the crisis in the Greek economy today, belongs to Europeans.
The European Union imposes temporary taxes and under such conditions the Greeks fail to meet even the immediate and basic needs such as electricity, water and even food. Clearly, they feel excluded from Europe and more locked into a specifically Greek destiny. Citizens must understand that this is not just a Greek problem. It is also a European one. Europe must prevent the situation in Greece from becoming an out-and-out humanitarian catastrophe and make sure that the same “remedy”- ineffective and unjust-is not applied to other weak economies such as Portugal and Spain.
Personally I support the European Union and my identity is European and Greek at the same time. I also support more integration. The European support to Greece is important and the financial assistance provided for the creation of infrastructure of its co-financing helps the development of Greece. Alongside, the programs of the European Union to reduce unemployment and the students exchange programs allowing Greek students to study a semester at a university abroad is extremely important.
Greece has made mistakes but the on-going austerity-only policies are not a solution to the crisis. On the contrary, they impede economic growth and have a devastating impact on people. Greece has to restructure its economy and get its finances right. However, sustainable economic recovery is not just about balance sheets and fiscal targets.
After all, European integration is about peace, cooperation, solidarity, and a shared destiny, not just about economic austerity. I hope in a hopeful future that will bring prosperity not only to the Greeks but throughout Europe. This will be achieved through mutual efforts and respect for every European nation.