After twelve years, Greece is no longer under EU financial supervision as of Saturday. This marks the end of a painful period for Greece that had led to economic stagnation and a division of society, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in Athens. He now promised his countrymen a new beginning "full of growth, unity and prosperity."
During the financial and debt crisis, euro partners and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had saved Greece from national bankruptcy several times starting in 2010 with loans totaling nearly 289 billion euros. In August 2018, the third loan program for the heavily indebted country ended. Greece left the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) but remained under strict surveillance.
The debt crisis and the strict austerity requirements imposed by international creditors had resulted in drastic losses for many Greeks. The bailout loans were conditional on massive cuts in pensions and salaries, for example, with the monthly minimum wage falling to less than 600 euros at the time. In addition, there were tax increases and privatizations. The Greek economy shrank by more than 25 percent, unemployment rose to almost 28 percent and skilled workers left the country in droves.
"The Greece of today is another Greece," Mitsotakis declared. Aug. 20, 2022, is a "historic day for Greece and all Greeks," Mitsotakis said on state television. He said Greece has recently seen strong economic growth and a significant drop in unemployment.
Mitsotakis stressed that even without the checks, the mistakes that led to the severe financial crisis in Greece in recent years should by no means be repeated. While there will be wage increases and tax cuts, he said, these should not undermine efforts to balance finances.
The release from curatorship as of Aug. 20 had been approved in recent days not only by the finance ministers of the euro countries but also by the responsible EU Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni.
The EU Commission also praised the efforts of the Greek people and their governments. "Greece is today closing a difficult chapter in its long and proud history," Gentiloni said. He said Greece's achievements were all the more commendable because they were shaped by two severe external shocks, the Corona pandemic and Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Eurogroup President Paschal Donohoe stressed on the short message service Twitter that the end of controls was "a great achievement of the Greek government and the Greek people."
Photo by Oksana Avramenko