Greece 1858 – plus ça change

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.

Published on 17 February 2012 at 16:32
"The Acropolis" by David Roberts (1796-1864). Oil on canvas, David David Gallery, Philadelphia.

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

**This content has been removed under request of the copyright owner.**

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A state ever absent

Well over a hundred and fifty years later, Die Zeit repeats the truths written by the French visitor to Greece Edmond About, who described the lack of communication in the Greek government and the abnormal number of employees in an obsolete state.

The Brussels authorities will do everything they can to save Greece, assures Die Zeit, but these reforms will be futile and ineffective, as Greece has not built a truly modern state structure.

The concept of “state-building” is familiar primarily in regions devastated by war. Now, though, the concept applies to a country inside the European Union. For the state that the Union wants to shield from the threat of bankruptcy does not exist.

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