Editor’s Note: On May 17, Daniel Speckhard spoke with Canada’s Business News Network about the ongoing crisis in Greece and the steps needed to lift it out of its downward spiral.
Anchor: Our next guest has plenty of experience with Greece, he was actually the U.S. ambassador to Greece from 2007 to 2010, so he’s watching the situation closely. Greece’s temporary caretaker cabinet has been sworn in and investors around the world are wondering will voters opt to keep Greece in the Euro Zone. So let’s get to our guest. Daniel Speckhard is also Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and he joins us from Washington. Daniel, thank you very much indeed for joining us.
Daniel Speckhard: Thank you.
Andrew Bell: Greece’s European partners, just about everybody, has been making it pretty clear to the Greek public that – you’re not going to be voting for a government in this forthcoming election, you’re voting on whether to stay in the European Union, in fact.
Daniel Speckhard: Yes, I think that’s what they’re trying to do. It’s a little bit difficult and the message is a little bit muddied, partly because of some of the developments in the rest of Europe which have other governments being turned over on issues of austerity. And so as the people in Greece see that, for instance, the new president in France wants some softening on austerity and more focus on growth, that’s a message that rings to them as well and may not be as clear to them in the context of there is no option for them than to stick to the existing memorandum for the bailout.
A. Bell: And just to clarify things, quite a few European leaders have been saying that if Greece wants to leave the Euro, they’re also going to get kicked out of the European Union. There’s no mechanism apparently for you to leave the unified currency but stay in the EU.
D. Speckhard: Well I think that may be a message that they are trying to send. I don’t’ know if that’s really what’s understood right now in Greece. In Greece, the challenge is for them to really change the dynamic before this next election. The problem is that these main two parties that have lead the country for the post-World War II life have lost all the confidence of the average voters and so you see the extreme left and the extreme right moving in to place. And so the extreme left and the extreme right are saying this is a false option that you are being given. We can renegotiate the memorandum but we can still stay within the Euro Zone. And it’s a question of whom the Greek voters are going to believe. I do think that message is a true one, which is that there isn’t more money out there for the Greeks. So it’s going to be very difficult to find alternative ways forward towards their restructuring.
My biggest concern is that Washington is signaling to Russia that it’s OK to meddle in the politics of sovereign nations which are your neighbors. Meddling is going on from Paris to Ukraine, from east to west and north to south, within Europe and at its borders, and always with the intent of undermining the credibility and effectiveness of democratic institutions. And it is being either denied or downplayed.
There is a general sense that there's a tsunami heading Europe's way. [This question of military power] is about values, interests, and the integrity of Europe. And it's about Germany and our future.