By Tony Barber
June 24 2011
“Misfortune spread throughout the state. There were many cases of corruption. Our creditors asked for a settlement; and the ambassadors were very pressing.”
Yannis Makriyannis, Greek military hero and memoirist (1797-1864)
Economic distress, bribery, debts and foreign pressure: it can sometimes seem as if not much has changed in Greece down the ages. The events to which Yannis Makriyannis referred took place soon after the war of independence against the Ottoman Empire, a costly 11-year struggle that culminated in 1832 with the Greek state no sooner born than facing demands for loan repayments from European powers.
Today, Greece’s debts are so large that the country ...