FNF Greece: Greece cannot afford to dodge reforms, neither can the Europeans

Sometimes you find yourself in just the right spot at just the right time. The high-level panel discussion organized by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) in Frankfurt about the future of Greece at the very same day the new Greek government finally agreed to further cooperate with its European and international partners, was just one of those fortunate coincidences.

DSC_1016With Sofia Christoforidou, a journalist for the Greek daily “Makedonia”, Lisa Nienhaus, a journalist for the German weekly “Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung”, Aristos Doxiadis, a Greek author and economist, and Prof. Karl-Heinz Paqué, ret. Finance Minister of Saxony-Anhalt and Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Management of Otto-von-Guericke-University Magdeburg, and the on-point moderation from Silke Wettach, European correspondent for “Wirtschaftswoche”, the panel was a perfect match to discuss the long-term implications of the escalating developments unfolding at the same time in Athens, Berlin and Brussels.

In order to put the latest Greek election result into context, Sofia Christoforidou stressed the fact that not all Greeks became leftists-at-heart over night, but rather opponents to the previous government’s course of action. Her fellow countryman, Aristos Doxiadis, noted that this might cause trouble for the SYRIZA government since it was voted mainly out of a sentiment of protest. “It will be extremely difficult for the new government to deliver what they have promised”, explained Doxiadis, “because there is little scope left to finance its various promises.” DSC_1023Karl-Heinz Paqué, once the finance minister of Germany’s poorest state Saxony-Anhalt, stated that “it took Saxony-Anhalt, ten years to get back on track”. Greece would need to keep on fighting as only profound structural reforms would get the country out of recession, just as it finally worked for the East-German state he once governed. “There is a common need to safeguard the Euro as it is the most visible project of a united and successful Europe. There is no alternative for Greece to further implement reforms, and it is Europe’s duty to accompany them and demand true reforms even if they seem unpopular in Greece.”

More than eighty people in the audience followed closely and took the chance to address their questions mainly to the Greek panelists. It was Sofia Christoforidou who said somewhat surprised: “I was expecting a more hostile crowd in Germany. After all, the Greeks and the Germans just want this crisis to end. It is good to see that both people keep working towards that goal, without hostility but with a true interest for each other’s motives.”

Markus Kaiser
Pictures: FNF RB Wiesbaden