The Greek decision to submit the European agreement of 26th October that was designed to save Greece from bankruptcy to referendum, is a legitimate one. Seeing that he was unable to convince his fellow countrymen of the effort required in exchange for a significant amount of aid, Prime Minister Georges Papandreou cannot be criticised for turning to the people.
But the way he has done this is contrary, not only to European spirit, but also to the principle of loyal cooperation that is recalled in article 4 of the Treaty on European Union: "The Member States shall facilitate the achievement of the Union’s tasks and refrain from any measure which could jeopardise the attainment of the Union’s objectives."
But our countries are suffering because of the crisis, more than the entire Union itself. Since 2010 seven governments have collapsed because of this. They can no longer face it alone, but continue however, to act as if nothing were wrong. Unfortunately this attitude is increasingly common in a Europe that only sees the future on the limited threshold of the States, and even from the point of view of a few partisan interests.
We have to learn from this in order to imagine Europe post-crisis. Based on democratic principles, these have to be protected and asserted Europe wide and they must be prevented from being used to take the partner States hostage, so that they are blackmailed in the coldest, most cynical manner, thereby running the risk of destroying the work patiently accomplished by others. The Greeks now have the choice to take hold of the generous hand held out to them or to sink into decline that could set them back 30 years. But their decision will effect the entire European economy, and possibly that of the whole world. We can only hope that the European leaders will tell them clearly and firmly what they think, and force an early referendum, so that uncertainty will not be allowed to set in until January or February next. Indeed by then, a great deal of money, far too many jobs and savings might very well go up in smoke, just because the Greek government failed to convince its people. This is unacceptable.
Mr Papandreou probably did not have any choice, but he has been caught out being blatantly disloyal.