OK, the Greek elections are over, the conservative New Democracy party has won and all is well with the world. The markets can now take a breather from their relentless speculation and attacks on Greece and its sovereign debt problems. But will this break last, or is this just half-time?
The answer is a lot more complicated than it seems. First off, Greece has a difficult path in modernizing the public sector, going ahead with much-needed privatizations of state-owned companies and battling with tax evasion. However, it seems that the country has been dealing with the never-ending headwinds of criticism from the international community. The criticism, especially outside of the Eurozone seems a little disingenuous. In a matter of 3 years since the beginning of the crisis, Greece has been reduced to a “small country of lazy tax evaders” that simply want and expect handouts from the hardworking Germans. Well, Germans might be hardworking, but so are Greeks (looking at the statistics released by the European Union, Greek people work some of the longest hours of many of their other Europeans relatives, including the Germans).
However, as they say, when you get a reputation it is difficult to live it down. Just take a look at a recent Wall Street Journal article “In Greece a Beachy Haven from Political Debate.” In addition to the usual financial commentary, the author goes on to describe in astonishment how Greeks could be spending time at the beach doing these very difficult times. In fact, the author describes a scene from an exclusive beach in Vouliagmeni, a seaside suburb of Athens, where people eat fruit, drink wine, wear bathing suits and Rolexes.
In fact, everybody has heard about the beautiful beaches of the Greek Islands. What some people don’t know is that the mainland has also paradisiacal beaches. This is true even right in the center of Athens.
Astir Beach in Vouliagmeni is an exclusive beach that will cost you about 15 euros (entrance fee includes access to umbrellas, beach beds and chairs – but bring your own towel), where a posh crowd of 30-something Greeks do what they do best: look good.
Beach chairs and umbrellas are provided on the fine sand beach, together with lockers, changing cabins, showers and a snack bar.
Another great option is Asteria Beach in Glyfada, also a fully organized beach with great seaside lunch spots such as Akanthus.
Maybe it’s time to try to understand the real issues affecting political and economic situations in countries before jumping to conclusions. Greece will be fine. Its spirit has lasted from 3,000 years – it’s not about to disappear now.
On to Spain and Italy . . . . .