One of Greece’s most belligerent media critics during the bailout decade, the German mass daily “Bild”, was all praise over the weekend, with a feature bannered with the headline “The Greek Miracle” and followed by a subheading of “We Are Back”.
Bild includes statements from an interview with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who told the German paper’s reporters that the east Mediterranean country has turned a new chapter, and that despite whatever standing problems – like price hikes and tax evasion – “Greece is now a dynamic, outward-looking destination for investors, with a strong voice in the heart of the EU and with an economy experiencing an unprecedented revival.”
Mitsotakis, fresh from a fillip by the Economist last week, which rated Greece as its “Country of the Year for 2023”, said reforms are “allowing us to turn our backs on populism and past crises; they are helping us protect social cohesion and reinforce our democratic institutions. And despite global crosswinds, the Greek economy continues to sport some of the best performances in the Eurozone.”
He ticked off the fact, as he said, that Greece’s fiscal deficit remains among the smallest of industrialized countries for 2023, something also forecast for 2024, “whereas unemployment continues to decrease and FDIs are contributing to a strong and consistent growth.”
“We have overturned the (negative) climate. Greece is no longer the problem, but a part of the solution. We are the positive story of the Eurozone.”
According to Bild, highlights of the Greek comeback include the biggest national debt reduction of any European country, despite a still high figure, in absolute GDP-to-debt terms. The mass daily reminds that Greece’s public debt has been sliced to 171% of GDP, 35 percentage points lower than in 2020.
Additionally, the budget deficit announced by the Greek government in 2023 and 2024 will be smaller than Germany’s corresponding figure. The country also posted significant GDP growth in 2021 and 2022, 8.4% and 5.9%, respectively.
Bild also mentioned that international ratings agencies, such as Fitch and S&P, recently restored the Greek state’s bonds to investment grade. Finally, official unemployment dropped to 9.6% in October 2023, when it stood at a punishing 28% just a decade ago.
The ‘thorns’ beneath the success story
At the same time, Bild said negative trends and standing problems affecting the country are high prices, in tandem with lower purchasing power, when compared to other European countries. This is especially true of continuously rising food prices on a month-by-month, something that drastically affects lower-income households. Characteristically, Bild said prices for milk, cheeses and eggs in the country are nearly 39% higher than the EU average.
In concluding, the German media outlet warned that tax evasion in Greece remains the “national sport”.