Is Greece 'Uniquely Deserving of Assistance'?

Opinions | January 29, 2015, Thursday // 21:31|  views

A man walks past a screen displaying a chart with the evolution of the Greek stock index in Athens, 28 January 2015. Greek stocks were in freefall during the session, three days after radical leftist SYRIZA party won the snap election. Photo EPA/BGNES

Greece’s new Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his radical leftist SYRIZA party rose to power on pledges to renegotiate the country’s debt and put an end to the austerity measures demanded by its creditors in exchange for bailout aid.

To deliver on those pledges, now Tsipras will have to convince other EU member states that his country is a unique case deserving of special assistance, even though it is much richer than most of its neighbours, according to a Bloomberg article entitled “Greece Wants a Debt Break. What About Its Poorer Neighbors?”

“It’s very difficult to make the point to a worker in Bulgaria that they should give part of their taxes to help people in Greece who are richer than they are,” the author quoted the director of the economic program at the Sofia-based Center for the Study of Democracy, Ruslan Stefanov,as saying.

While gross domestic product-per-capita in Greece is USD 22,000 – even after years of crippling recession – in its northern neighbor Bulgaria, which also is member of the EU, it is only USD 8,000, according to the article. Greece is also much richer that Macedonia, whereGDP-per-capita is USD 5,000, and Albania, where it is USD 4,000.

“If you are spending money like that in Greece, you should spend money in Bulgaria and other Eastern European countries. This is an argument that is being made by politicians here,” Stefanov opined.

“There is a clear understanding that Greece has not done enough to request more help from its partners in Europe,” said Stefanov, referring to the “quite lavish funding” Greece has been receiving from the EU since 1982.

Like Bulgaria, which joined the EU in 2007, Greece is a net beneficiary of EU funding.

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Tags: Bulgaria, greece, Syriza, Tsipras, debt relief, Albania, macedonia, Center for the Study of Democracy, austerity


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