Europe on the Brink as Greece Calls Off Referendum

Friday, November 04, 2011

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou arrives a parliament session on the confidence vote. (Louisa Gouliamaki/Getty)

In Cannes, leaders from the world's 20 largest economic nations are meeting to discuss the most pressing fiscal matters across the globe. On top of that list is Greece and the high-stakes political gamesmanship of the country's Prime Minister George Papandreou. Papandreou called off a plan to hold a referendum on his country's loan deal with the European Union Thursday after he gained new support for the deal from the opposition. Greece is in a tense political stalemate as its fate with the euro zone hangs in the balance. Papandreou is trying avoid a economic catastrophe as he faces calls for his resignation and a no-confidence vote on Friday. Papandreou's political brinkmanship has renewed questions about the instability of the euro zone and the destabilizing roles of deeply indebted countries.

Peter Spiegel, Brussels bureau chief for the Financial Times, explains more from Cannes. Also on the program is Lou Katsos, board member of the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce based in New York.

Guests:

Lou Katsos

Comments [2]

Debbie from NYC

Inviting Mr. Katsos as a commentator on the issue of Greece's current problems was a terrible decision. He made blanket statements, veered off topic, and failed to acknowledge the roots of the real problems in Greece.

LIke Mr. Katsos, I was born in Greece and consider myself Greek-American. Unlike Mr Katsos, I would NEVER profess to know or speak on behalf of the millions of Greeks living outside of Greece. That's absurd! Nearly three quarters of a million Greeks live in Australia. I have no idea what they think or feel about the situation of their family or friends in Greece. What I can tell you is that I have spoken to/skyped friends and family in Greece more in the last two years than ever before. I'm interested to know what THEY think, how this is effecting THEM directly or indirectly. The consensus is they are being screwed by the dominating powers of Europe, i.e., Germany and France. Most of them bristle at this, especially in light of the history between Gr and Germany during WWII fresh in many of the older generation and retold to the younger. So, does it really matter what Greeks outside of Greece feel about the situation? It is not the diaspora that is going to make any difference here.

Making ad hominem attacks on Prime Minister Papandreou is completely counterproductive. So what if Mr. Papandreou's father and grandfather were former ministers? So what if he was born in the USA and his mother is American? How is that relevant to the conversation? George Bush's father was president and his family is related to the British Royal family. So what? If Mr. Katsos is implying that the cause of Greece's current woes is Mr. P being born in the US, he is as myopic as he is uninformed.

And lastly, Greece's economic problems are long standing and too long to tackle in my brief rebuttal. It's enough to say that many politicians are to blame - left and right wing included. There is a culture of corruption that the government needs to acknowledge and take responsibility for. Changing the root of that problem I'm afraid seems like a Sisyphean task at the moment. I pray the change is made within the next generation. Greece is a beautiful country with beautiful, generous, and loving people.

In the meantime, please select better informed guests in future!

-Debbie (NYC)

Nov. 05 2011 10:53 AM
Peter Adamis from Watsonia, Australia.

Interesting comments from both sides of the fence. One must admit that both agree that Greece is a small country that is currently being used as the benchmark for the stability of the Euro and that of its member states. If the EU cannot fix the problem of Greece how can the world have confidence in the EU maintaining a stable economy. Lou Katsos made an excellent point that Greece alone is not going bring down the Euro, while other member states like, England, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, France and Italy who are in greater debt are also contributing to the destabilisation. The sooner the world realises the truth about Europe and its member states the better. There is no need to pick on one small nation like Greece to be used as an example when other larger economies are in dire straits. Peter Adamis, Watsonia, Australia.

Nov. 04 2011 06:05 PM

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