Greece’s current plight is a bitter one.
The country is one step away from leaving the euro, its economy and society are in decline, thousands of firms are shutting down and more than half of its young people are out of work.
How did this come to be? Patrizio Nissirio tries to provide an answer in his latest book, Bitter Ouzo, the Greek tragedy from the Olympics to Samara’s Goal“, which is published by Fazi. He explores the so-called Greek tragedy and the impact the economic catastrophe has had on Greek society. Attention is focused on a political class unable to give up privileges in the name of the common good – unable to look forward, unable to look at the future generations, unable to make decisions that could have avoided the current tragic consequences. In addition to this, there is widespread corruption, financial speculators who ride on the back of the global crisis, and a deep disrespect for all things public.
After the successful ebook released in April, the print version of Bitter Ouzo is now available.
Patrizio Nissirio, an Ansa journalist and the news agency’s former Athens correspondent, has followed the unfolding of the Hellenic crisis from the beginning, and in this book he explores the country’s economy and its people. He writes about dramatic street fights, the smell of acrid teargas, and the hopeless voices of those who are crushed by the crisis but are not responsible for it.
“It was about 5pm. Public (ADEDY) and private (GSEE) Unions called a massive rally that culminated in a siege of the Greek Parliament in a desperate effort to try to prevent the vote of the last package of austerity measures,” Nissirio writes.
Thousands and thousands of people gathered on Sunday February 12 in Syntagma square. Working classes, middle classes, upper classes, and celebrities like the legendary partisan Manolis Glezos and the composer Mikis Theodorakis were all there. The austerity package passed, but at night, extremists set fire to several buildings.
The beginning of the Greek crisis coincided with the end of the Olympics, Nissirio suggests: “When the lights of the closing ceremony were turned off, reality began to take shape, and the dream was over. Those 16 days of great sport, soon turned into a financial abyss, an endless series of missed opportunities.” The selfishness of the ruling class and ‘creative’ accounting led Greece to collapse. Its European partners also played a role in the process.
“They give lessons, and at the same time take care of their own interests unscrupulously,” says the author. And what is going to happen now? The current weak coalition government faces harsh choices: cuts, unpopular reforms and the abolition of privileges.
Understanding of the Greek crisis can help us figure out, and maybe prevent, more trouble for the euro in the future.