Dukakis Center co-sponsors panel discussion on Eurozone crisis
“Young journalists chained to their chairs and people on tourist trips are writing about the current state of Greece. But for those of you studying abroad here, you’ll actually be able to understand. So take good notes,” declared Alec Mally to the over-full Tiano Room at the US Consulate General of Thessaloniki.
On March 15, 2012 a group of ACT students along with other members of the general public gathered for a panel discussion on “Trans-Atlantic Perspectives on the Economic Crisis in Greece and in the Eurozone.” The featured panellists were Alan Cafruny, Henry Platt Bristol Professor of International Affairs at Hamilton College, and Alec Mally, the Executive Director for Global Economic Affairs at Foresight Strategy and Communications. The panel was moderated by the Executive Director of the Dukakis Center, David Wisner.
Before the Round Table began, a woman from the Consulate encouraged the people in the room to challenge the speakers and to question them. “The fundamental idea that education teaches you is how to think and how to question,” she claimed. “By developing these skills, you become a better and more active citizen.” Her encouragement sparked an intense question and answer session at the end of the discussion, which continued over half an hour past the pre-designated end time. Little did we understand at the time, but this was Catherine Kay, the US Consul General of Thessaloniki herself!
Both speakers focused on American policy towards the crisis in the Eurozone. Alan Cafruny claimed that the American government has always been broadly supportive of the Eurozone. However, the current Obama Administration is nervous that the Eurozone crisis will undermine the American recovery. “American policy is tactical not strategic” Cafruny contended. The US is unwilling to take a position of leadership in rehabilitating
the economy of the Eurozone because of domestic politics and the fact that the US is
currently rebalancing away from Europe and towards Asia.
Meanwhile, Alec Mally, a senior US diplomat and Consul General of Thessaloniki in his day, asserted that “Greece is considered the bad boy of public ﬁnance.” Yet half the time observers debate ideology over facts. Mally lamented the multitude of armchair experts crunching numbers and claiming to have the answers, albeit with little actual knowledge and understanding of the Greek case. Essentially, suggested Mally, there is a “Greek Debt Calculator” that allows anyone to create their own disaster situation.
The audience in the room left feeling fortunate to have had the opportunity to listen to two speakers with such great academic and professional experience. “I really enjoyed the discussion. It was incredibly interesting and educational,” remarked American ACT student Norma Katherine Butts. It was agreed, moreover, particularly among the study abroad students in attendance, that something momentous was happening in Greece before their very eyes.