Sunday 25 September 2016

Eurozone leaders now owe a debt of gratitude to the Greeks

Published 14/07/2015 | 02:30

Alexis Tsipras
Alexis Tsipras

It really is a bit much that various EU leaders talk about Greece having to 'rebuild' trust. What about the trust those leaders have to rebuild with the Greek people and the people of Europe?

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Still the EU elite refuses to face responsibility for its own mistake in 2010, and the mess it led to, when the Eurozone group forced Greece, then Ireland, then Spain, Portugal and Cyprus to link their banking debt to national debt.

The consequences of that stupid decision, presumably made at the behest of the banks like Goldman Sachs, has led to the current mess in the eurozone.

Their failure to lead properly, not how badly Greece is run, directly led to the breaking of the bond of trust the EU had with the citizens of its member states, who can no longer be under any illusions that there is any notion of European solidarity.

Greece could have walked away from the eurozone, on the quite legitimate grounds that its debt burden was simply too much and no amount of reform was ever going to make the debt sustainable.

The irony is that if it had, this would have meant all the debts of the German and French banks that the leaders of those countries had tried so hard to avoid being paid would immediately fall back on the taxpayers of Germany and France, meaning all the damage done to the EU and eurozone would have been for nothing.

But instead Greece faced the music of its own dysfunction and is continuing to shoulder not only the debt incurred in running Greece itself, which is the price it pays for that dysfunction, but also the debts of the eurozone banks operating in Greece.

If Greece had walked away, the whole euro edifice would have crumbled, as why would anyone in any other country put themselves through what the Greek people have endured, and for what? So their great-great-grandchildren will still be repaying the losses incurred by reckless investment-bank-lending in France and Germany that had nothing to do with the Greek economy, no matter how dysfunctional it was. Funny how if France and Germany had just paid those losses themselves back in 2010, it would have been cheaper than the cost to them from the damage they inflicted trying to avoid those costs.

While Mr Juncker and Mr Kenny and Ms Merkel and Ms Lagarde return to the plaudits of the money men, a little bit of humility to acknowledge that Greece has saved the eurozone wouldn't go amiss.

It could be the first step in the EU elite starting to undo some of the damage they have done to the EU's standing, not just around the world, but among her member states' citizens from whom it derives its legitimacy.

Desmond FitzGerald

Canary Wharf, London

A Pyrrhic victory?

Colin Smith (Letters, July 13) compares the Greek disaster in Brussels to the battle of Thermopylae in 480BC, which the Greeks lost to a larger Persian army, and adds as "Just a bit of insight for Athens" that even that city was destroyed later.

It is strange, though, that his tale ends there, rather than with the subsequent sea battle of Salamis in which the Greek coalition achieved one of the most famous victories of all times against massive odds - or with the final destruction of what remained of the Persian army at the battle of Plataea in 479BC, or maybe the destruction of the remnants of the Persian fleet at Mycale in the same year.

Thermopylae was in fact the only Persian victory of that campaign, and the Persians never again invaded the Greek mainland after its failure. It remains to be seen if Mr Smith's analogy will hold if one takes the entire story into account (I suspect not, although this may indeed turn out to be a Pyrrhic victory for the Germans, Finns and others), but selective historical memory is certainly never a prudent way forward.

Dr Wolfgang Marx

School of Music, UCD, Dublin

A new word: Agreekments, meaning a short-term agreement to agree to disagree about agreements that no one in their right mind would agree to.

Kevin Devitte

Westport, Co Mayo

Day of Commemoration

I am outraged that I and people like me were unrepresented at today's National Day of Commemoration recalling those who died in past wars.

I am a person of no religious belief. One of the 173,180 listed in the 2011 census. That number is grossly understated as it doesn't include all the children that have not acquired or accepted a religion as yet but are enumerated as children of their parents' religion.

Yet I find that Muslims (18,223), Jews (34,867, including four other religions not counted separately) and Orthodox (8,465) are represented, as well as the minority Christian beliefs. In fact, people of no religion outnumber all Christians, with the exception of Roman Catholics, put together.

I am outraged. Those representatives spoke of their beliefs and not one word of knowledge.

Not one word represented me, although the music and singing were wonderful.

Eugene Hogan

Dublin 15

Amnesty and abortion

Colm O'Gorman's defence of Amnesty's stance on restrictions on abortion in Ireland - which incidentally have been ratified by Constitutional referenda of the Irish people - is based on the premise that abortion is a human right and that its denial is "a violation of women's and girls' right to life, health, information and freedom from torture or other ill-treatment".

So far, so good. However, is he incapable of conceiving that the subject of abortion, a human at a critically vulnerable stage of development, is entitled to Amnesty's protection under at least three of its six key areas of interest: freedom from torture, the death penalty, and the preservation of its human dignity?

Further, as an advocate for availability of abortion would he include in his campaign a brief description of its process, including the torture and mutilation of a human being, and an explanation as to how it concords with the stated aims of the organisation he heads, which he claims has "expanded its mandate to a full spectrum of human rights"?

In his own expansionary mood, can he extend his concern for womens' reproductive rights to include the basic right to life for the reproduced?

Austen Corcoran

Rathfarnham, Dublin 16

Irish Independent

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