Noel is a recent UKC graduate living in London. He works as a freelance writer and a barista. He has a BA in Communication and an MA in Criminology.
1. How do you personally experience the financial crisis?
I read the news every day, and I observe from afar. The economic crisis in Greece doesn’t affect me financially since I reside in a different country, but it still manages to take its toll on you psychologically. Personally, I was ashamed of the way Greece went about things long before the crisis — now I just feel more ashamed because everybody in the world knows as well.
2. What is the psychological impact of the situation on Greeks?
I think it has, in many ways. Every time I return to Greece, I find people to be more depressed and worried than the last time. They still manage to maintain some sense of morale — which is extraordinary — but the lack of coordination or a light at the end of the tunnel is definitely getting to them. Desperation and defeatism are becoming more widespread, I believe.
3. How much are people to blame and how much the politicians for the situation?
This is a difficult question. The Greek administrative system has been malfunctioning from the moment it was established because its original purpose was to maintain clientelism — so everyone who has benefited from it is to blame. The difference between politicians and citizens is that the former fully understood the consequences of their actions — and consistently ignored them in favour of personal gains. The problem is that those who are facing the hardship of unemployment and cuts and a future of little success or career development are those who had nothing to do with this system — the young generations who are forced to pay for the mistakes of their parents.
4. What is your opinion on the relation between politics and economy?
No opinion on the matter.
5. What is your opinion on corruption?
No opinion on the matter.
6. What is the role of the country in the European Union and the Eurozone?
I honestly have no idea. Would it be better for Greece to exit the EU and the Eurozone? I highly doubt the former, I’m unsure about the latter. Our very entrance into the EU and the Eurozone was the result of cooked books and favours… but Greece is not the only one responsible for this. Other EU countries actively made sure this would happen.
7. Do foreigners have a clear image of the situation in Greece?
Have you seen “Go Greek for a Week”? There are so many silly myths about the country and its people that we could write an epic about them and name it the Modern Greek Mythology. The thing is that people don’t care to learn; it’s easier to condemn the lazy, money-grabbing people of Greece than to question their own leaders, and ours, and every politician and company and organisation involved in the crisis.
8. Will the change of Prime Minister improve the country’s position?
No. We don’t need a different government, we need radical changes. I was talking with a friend who’s doing a Ph.D. on EU politics, and he said something very true: it’s amazing that after all that has happened in Greece the past three years, no new political parties have emerged. Why is that? What would some of the same old offer Greece?
9. In which ways should the Greek system change?
What should change? That’s a heavy question I don’t feel comfortable answering. The whole administrative system should change. The Greek way of going about things should change. The public sector should be reformed. There’s too many things to name.
10. Will this ordeal have any positive outcomes for the political, social or economic situation in Greece?
Maybe. The best things happen after you hit rock bottom, because there’s no way to go but up. As long as we learn a lesson from the economic crisis and improve and reform the system, Greece might gain something. But it’s going to take time.
11. Are you afraid of what the future holds?
Strangely, no. I don’t live in Greece and have no plans to return. I am slightly worried about my friends and my family, but I think they’ll manage to pull through. The only thing that worries me is our membership to the EU — as long as nobody messes up with that, I’ll be fine.