Eurozone crisis: Greece 1858 – plus ça change

17 February 2012
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung Frankfurt

"The Acropolis" by David Roberts (1796-1864). Oil on canvas, David David Gallery, Philadelphia.
"The Acropolis" by David Roberts (1796-1864). Oil on canvas, David David Gallery, Philadelphia.

Crippled by debt, propped up by European powers, handicapped by an ineffective administration: uncompromising diagnoses of Greece’s ills are not new. The text that follows, drafted by 19th century French writer Edmond About, has re-emerged in the European press.

Greece is the only known example of a country that has lived in bankruptcy since the day that it was born. If such a situation were to prevail in France or England for just one year, we would see terrible catastrophes. Greece has peaceably lived with bankruptcy for more than 20 years. All of the country’s budgets, from the very first to the one just out, have been in deficit.

In civilised countries, when the sum of revenues is not sufficient to cover the budget for expenditure, the difference is made up by an internal loan. However, the Greek government has never tried to obtain such a loan and any attempt to do so would have been in vain.

Translated from the original French text by Mark McGovern

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