Money, Sovereignty and the modern Greek state


  • Peter Prineas



Inspired by the examples of the American and French revolutions, the Greek people rose up against the Ottoman Empire in 1821. They endured years of war and suffering to win their own sovereign state.

This is a story that every Greek knows. It is perhaps not surprising, then, that in the recent financial crisis, when the Troika of the IMF, the European Commission and the European Central Bank, dictated terms to Greece, protestors marched in Athens.

When calls came from Berlin for a commissioner to supervise the country’s finances, Minister Evangelos Venizelos said the proposal ignored “some key historical lessons” 1. Calls for Greece to leave the European Monetary Union - the euro - were met with indignation.

Mr Venizelos did not elaborate on the relevant “key historical lessons”, but Greece has seen financial crises and foreign interventions before. Its sovereignty has been compromised before. Greece has even been previously expelled from a monetary union.

That these things have happened before is not a reason to be unconcerned about the present crisis, but it always better to see events in perspective and be open to the possibility that something might be learnt from history.