Democracy was placed at risk during the global economic crisis as a result of governments’ unwillingness to trust their citizens, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in a special tribute focusing on the challenges to democracy, published by the “New York Times” in collaboration with “Euro2day.gr”.
The prime minister stressed that Greece’s comeback sends a strong message on how to harness the powers of democracy and place trust in the people’s determination to build a better future in order to overcome difficulties. The Greek-language version was reproduced by Euro2day on Thursday.
The full article submitted by the prime minister in English is given below:
“There is no doubt that the crisis that hit the global economy has left its marks in many areas of social life. One of the most highlighted issues is that the very meaning and function of democracy has been put in jeopardy throughout these years of struggle against the crisis and its consequences.
This was not just a side effect of the crisis. It was triggered by the unwillingness of the powers [that] be to trust the citizens, to use the collective force of democracy in order to withstand the pressure that the financial crisis had put on their respective countries and societies.
Consequently, the political establishment fell into a trap. And that is to leave policy-making and decision making in the hands of technocrats and the nefarious bodies of unelected advisors. This was as my ancient ancestors would say, Hubris. Because in these crucial times, societies have been left behind, and at the same time our people were repeatedly asked to make sacrifices without any positive effects in their lives in the foreseeable future.
That led to the widening of the gap between people and their governments. And worse than that, people started losing faith not only in the political leadership but in democracy itself. Because if you strip democracy of its key components, such as accountability, you are render it vulnerable.
In these circumstances, the enemies of democracy and its values, the far-right, the fascists, and the neo-nazis tend to gain ground in our societies. This cannot be tolerated. Therefore, we have a collective duty to make things right.
I firmly believe that democracy is not only a weapon against hate, fear mongering, discrimination and racism. It is also a tremendous force behind the collective progress and prosperity of society.
And I challenge you to put in perspective, the fate of political strategies that undermined democracy and its values. Every single one of them led, sooner or later, to a dead end. This is so, because, without consensus, without the expressed will of the people, every political or economic strategy, regardless of the amount of expertise that [it] carries behind it, is bound to fail. It is the failure of these strategies that has led and will lead to the collapse of the political forces that support them. Just a glance at the political map of Greece, in the last seven years, vindicates this conclusion.
The Greek people have made a choice: to turn their back on extreme austerity and recession policies that were implemented by political forces that ignored the people’s will. Our people did that by using the phenomenal power of democracy. They elected a government, which even in the most crucial times, has never backed down from its trust to the people.
This choice is bearing fruits now. Greece is back. After years of recession and economic turbulence, we are now turning the page.
In August 2018, the last fiscal consolidation program is due to end. From then on, Greece will be able to fulfill its debt obligations, to support by its own means its production and growth, without further external assistance from its European counterparts.
But it would be unwise of us to sit and wait for this day to come. We are putting an effort, the last three years, to gain the lost ground.
Our fiscal achievements are unprecedented. In three consecutive years, Greece has achieved not only to reach the projected targets regarding its primary surplus but to be way over the targets, which is crucial for the reinstatement of confidence to our economy.
Apart from that, Greece has left its recession years back. After a stabilizing 2016, the growth rate will be close to 2% for 2017. Unemployment rates are down almost 7% since the day we came into office, our exports are up 15% in 2017 and Direct Foreign Investments have reached a decade high with an estimation of 4 billion euros by the end of 2017.
The issue of growth is now the key for us. We are putting an enormous effort in order to provide a further boost to our country’s productive potential.
For sure, investors are now able to see this potential. Because they are now looking into a country with political and economic stability and of course with a highly educated, young and skilled working population, that is ready to support our country’s dynamic recovery. They are not looking anymore at a country with a shaky economy, grounded by harsh austerity and recession.
All in all, the Greek comeback sends a strong message. On how to overcome difficulties, by putting the trust in the hands of people, by investing in the hard work and determination of the people to make their country a better place for them and for the generations to come.”