Personally, I don't think Greece should ever have joined the EEC and adopted the Euro currency. For anyone who visited Greece before their integration into the single market, most would agree, it didn't look like a country that would offer many benefits to the union. I could see the attraction for them - mostly in subsidies for their farmers and the freedom of movement that ill-fittingly comes with the membership. But, for me, it was a tragedy that they joined the EEC. I used to love handling Drachmas - there was something gratifying about using them, much more than Euros, which, lets face it, looks like toy money you'd find in a cheap board game. Almost overnight, the cost of having a holiday in Greece doubled in price. Sure, you could still get a good deal at your travel agent if you waited for the last-breath offers, but when you got there almost everything had doubled in cost. Prices of food and drink were comparable to that in other European destinations that had already adopted the Euro. France, Spain, Germany.... I recall being able to buy a bottle of Mythos or Keo for less than fifty pence (and cheaper than bottled water). Aside from the consistently glorious weather and the golden beaches, Greece started to become less attractive as a holiday destination. Without tourism, what else does Greece offer to the rest of the world? Feta cheese and Olives... in my opinion the foulest tasting thing to grow on a tree (Okay, I may be in the minority regarding disliking them... but com' on! other than making oil from them, really, what good are they?)
I have fond memories of Greece, with the island of Rhodes my favourite (which I've visited several times), and Skiathos and Crete close runners-up. The history and the mythology of the islands adds to much magic and character to the place, that it's hard not to fall in love with it. And the people, so friendly, honest and generous. I recall visiting Rhodes and being told to leave my luggage outside the door for collection to our transfer coach (it was in Lindos, and the coach could only park at the top of a hill). No one thinks to steal it, and as promised it's collected and taken to the correct place as promised. And their generosity has bee unequalled in any country I have visited; it's not irregular to be offered a free drink by the proprietor of a restaurant at the end of a meal... hospitality like that is never forthcoming in UK restaurants, and I've never experienced it in France, Spain or Australia.
So, what's going to happen to this wonderful, beautiful country and it's people. Well, it looks like they may be about to negotiate a stay of execution and agree to terms that will at least save their economy for the time being, but it's likely to be a ticking time bomb. Greece, and its economy, does not fit in the European single currency model, and therefore it will continue to fail. There's no way out for them, except to face up to the reality that they should exit the Euro. Sure it will impact them terribly (at first) and the rest of Europe... and likely us (the British) as well, despite us having the Pound, but it would mean that Greece would start with a clean slate and then be free to start over and actually grow an economy. I believe they should be brave and take this decision instead of accept a whole plethora of demands and bully-boy tactics by a greedy self-serving institution, that looks after no one other than themselves.
Without a doubt, the European Single Market experiment has been a failure, and it's only through Margaret Thatcher's dogged determination and bloody single mindedness that we were not dragged in to the mess that is the EURO. I dread to think how disastrous our economy would have been had she bowed to pressure back in 1990 when the idea was first tabled by the French and Germans, and subsequently agreed upon by most members. The disaster affecting Greece should be seen as a wake-up call for the rest of Europe, especially to us, with our own future 'within it' being given to us to decide within the next year or so. I don't believe voicing one's own opinions regarding politics, however you need to think carefully about what it really means to be in Europe. Is it a good or bad thing? Harry Enfield, in one of his sketch shows with Paul Whitehouse, once eloquently and humorously put it when discussing the merits of being part of the EEC by way of an analogy in one of his Tory MP guises; he likened membership akin to being on a train... it was, he said, better to be on a train and trying to 'piss out of it' than being on the platform and trying to 'piss in'. I can see the attraction to being part of something bigger (for us and Greece), but has a single market genuinely served the interests of us, or the majority of Europeans, that well (aside from the ones moving over here)?? On the face of it, it seems only Germany (and the half-million of Romanian and Polish setting up home on our shores) is prospering under the rule of Brussels. It's worth seriously thinking about. Maybe it's time for us, like Greece ought to do, and get off the train... before it's too late.