Greeks Fear They Are Losing Their Sovereignty | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

Greeks Fear They Are Losing Their Sovereignty

Play associated audio

World markets rallied Thursday after European leaders agreed on a plan to deal with the eurozone debt crisis. But in Greece, the most imperiled country, there was skepticism that the deal will do much to help the country out of recession.

In addition, many Greeks also fear that they are losing their sovereignty, and are uncomfortable about the role Germany will be playing in the country's financial future.

The Nuntius stock brokerage firm is, unlike similar offices in New York or London, deathly quiet. So many people have been laid off that the offices are nearly empty.

The firm's president, Alexandros Moraitakis, sits behind a big desk, his cell phone ringing with calls from clients eager to know about the EU deal that was reached at dawn Thursday.

His own profession is in critical condition. In the past two years, the Greek stock market has lost 75 percent of its volume. Personally, he doesn't like the EU deal. He says the EU, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank — known as the troika — have his country's fate in their hands.

"Greece does not decide, now the troika people decide, and they make experiments in the Greek market," he says. "Up to now they were unsuccessful. Without growth, nothing will be done."

All Pain, No Gain

Moriatakis lists some other troika results: Unemployment has doubled, and despite two years of draconian austerity measures, Greece is in recession and spiraling downwards. Many commentators echo this negative view.

And there's widespread criticism that the troika is going to have a permanent office in Athens for the rest of the decade.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has made clear that over-indebted eurozone countries must be closely overseen by international inspectors.

Many Greeks see this as the first step of a loss of national sovereignty.

Newspaper publisher and journalist George Kirtsos says it's one thing to yield sovereignty in the name of a more united and integrated Europe.

"And it is another thing yielding sovereignty because you have failed in your economic management and now have to face the reality of German domination," he says. "No government can sell this to its people, to its own electorate."

Kirtsos points out that statements by German politicians disparaging the Greek people have revived old memories of the brutality of the German occupation during World War II.

Anger With Germany

There have even been suggestions in the media that the German-driven austerity measures are part of a plan to reshape the Greek nation. But Kirtsos says this in no way resembles what the Americans offered with the Marshall Plan, which pumped lots of money into the Greek economy, devastated by World War II.

"So you can do nation-building provided you pay the bill," he said. "But if you want to do nation-building and force the Greeks to pay the price for the German nation-building in Greece, this is something that cannot be done in political terms."

Anti-German sentiment is boiling. A slew of cartoons have depicted Greek government officials as Nazi collaborators. There are growing fears that Germans are plotting to buy Greek monuments and islands on the cheap, and there's a revival of anger over Greek demands for compensation for Nazi atrocities.

A local EU office run by a German is referred to as the Gestapo.

Even world-famous composer Mikis Theodorakis — of Zorba the Greek fame — joined the anti-German crusade in a call to a radio talk show.

"They are pressing the knife deeper and deeper, they insult us more every day, driving us toward violence and to an explosion that could also be destructive for them," Theodorakis says.

But at a press conference Thursday, Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos tried to reassure Greeks that their national sovereignty is intact. He justified the troika's permanent presence in Athens, saying it's needed to avoid what he called communication problems.

And he insists that responsibility for and implementation of the EU bailout program lies with the Greek government alone.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit


Ruth Rendell Dies, Pioneered The Psychological Thriller

The British mystery writer was known for her Inspector Wexford series and in her later years became active in Labour Party politics. NPR's Petra Mayer has this remembrance.

'Bourbon Empire' Reveals The Smoke And Mirrors Of American Whiskey

A new book suggests that tall tales on craft bourbon labels are the rule rather than the exception. They're just one example of a slew of "carefully cultivated myths" created by the bourbon industry.

Site Using Candidate Carly Fiorina's Name Attacks Her Record At HP

The site,, says the Republican presidential candidate laid off 30,000 people while she ran Hewlett-Packard. Fiorina does not deny the figure, but says, overall, the firm created jobs.

People's Republic Of Uber: Making Friends, Chauffeuring People In China

Uber is becoming more popular in China, but many drivers say they don't do it for the money. They say they like the human connection and the freedom.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.