If Greece Takes On a New Outlook, So Will Europe

Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (L) is welcomed by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (R) ahead of a me
Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (L) is welcomed by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (R) ahead of a meeting on Greece, at the European Commission in Brussels,on June 24, 2015, as eurozone finance ministers try to finalise a debt deal and avoid a default by Athens. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is set to conduct yet another round of crisis talks with representatives of the country's creditors, ahead of a crucial meeting of eurozone finance ministers where all sides hope a solution can be found to save the country from bankruptcy. AFP PHOTO/POOL JULIEN WARNAND (Photo credit should read JULIEN WARNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

PARIS -- Greece is in a dramatic condition and the situation will only deteriorate further if the country were to end up defaulting on its debts -- or even leaving the eurozone altogether. Emerging from the current crisis requires first and foremost that a complete change of outlook take root in Greece itself.

First, the Greek leaders must display a clear will to make a clean break with the Greece of the past 40 years, forgoing the temptation to put the blame for the core of Greece's woes on external causes.

Second, the Greek government must also grasp the fact that its democratic legitimacy cannot, by its very nature, take precedence over the democratic legitimacy enjoyed by its European counterparts.

Those are the two conditions which will allow the Greek authorities to make credible commitments followed up by practical implementation on the basis of a program forged in agreement with their partners. We understand the impatience and concern of those partners, who are sick and tired of feeling that they are pouring their aid into a bottomless "Danaides basin." [Editor's Note: In Greek mythology, a basin in which jugs of water are endlessly poured but which never fills.]

Nor is this "Greek tragedy" merely a national issue. It is having, and will continue to have, an impact on the whole of Europe, of which Greece is an integral part in both historical and geographical terms.

"We understand the impatience and concern of those partners, who are sick and tired of feeling that they are pouring their aid into a bottomless 'Danaides basin.'"

Thus we should not simply confine ourselves to gauging the extensive economic and financial consequences of Greece's departure from the monetary union. We need to view Greece's situation from a geopolitical standpoint, too, seeing it as a problem that is European today and that will continue to be European in the future. We must not look at Greece only through the IMF's microscopes, but also through the United Nations' binoculars. In other words, we must see Greece as a country set in the Balkans, an area whose instability hardly needs further fueling at a time of open warfare in Ukraine and in Syria and of a growing terrorist threat -- not to mention the migrant crisis.

In any event, confining ourselves to a strictly financial viewpoint for the moment, we crucially need to stress that Greece's current liquidity crisis is the result of a solvency crisis, which is itself merely a symptom of far deeper woes linked to the weaknesses of an economy and a state that needs to be reconstructed in every aspect through in-depth administrative, judicial, educational, fiscal and other reforms.

It is up to the EU to play its part to the full in that reconstruction process by offering Greece a comprehensive three-pronged plan:

First, offering Greece reasonable financial aid in order to allow it to rebuild its solvency in the short term;

Second, mobilizing all those EU instruments that can help to revive the Greek economy (structural and cohesion funds, European Investment Bank loans, interest on Greek bonds held by the European Central Bank) and thus fostering its return to growth, which will in itself lighten the country's debt-to-GDP ratio;

Third, immediately adding to the agenda an assessment of the weight of Greece's debt and of the debt of the other European "countries under program," that is, receiving aid on a conditional basis, as long as the promised reforms are enacted.

Only a global plan of this nature can provide the Greek people and their authorities with prospects for hope and of getting them to put their heart and mind into the effort for reconstruction.

Odysseus found the courage and the energy to endure a further 10 years of grueling ordeals after those already suffered during the Trojan War because he never lost hope of returning to Ithaca and to his Penelope.

If the Greeks and the Europeans find it in themselves to look towards a a shared future -- one which they believe will be a better future for all -- then they will find a way to forge a compromise honoring the principles of cooperation and of solidarity that are the very foundation stones underpinning the European construction.

PHOTO GALLERY
Greece Votes 'No'