What after the Greek referendum?
On July 5, the Greek people unanimously voted "No" in the country's referendum on whether to accept the terms of the EU bailout, with a convincing 61 percent of people rejecting the austerity measures brokered by European powers. Whatever may be the merit of the argument for or against rejection of the recent bailout, there can be no doubt that the referendum was a victory for democratic expression, with the people themselves deciding their fate at such a critical moment in Greece's history. The Syriza-led government's negotiating position has certainly been strengthened by this unequivocal and unanimous mandate from its own people.
Greece now stands at a new juncture of history, one where it must decide how best to move forward and rebuild its economy. As of now, it is yet to put forward any new proposal to secure a deal with creditors, despite urgent appeals from the EU to do so. Greece must come up with a comprehensive plan before the final deadline on Thursday; it must also look inward and confront the fundamental reality of economic mismanagement of successive years that has resulted in this crisis. The EU, too, must accept the new reality of Greece's rejection of its terms, and come to the negotiating table with more lenient conditions for the country that will bolster economic growth rather than asphyxiate it further.
From outward signs, a Greek exit from the EU following the 'No' vote does not seem imminent; neither the Greek government nor the EU seems inclined towards this harsh option that would not only prove costly for the struggling nation but for the Euro zone as a whole. The time for finger-pointing is long past; we now hope for meaningful talks between Greece and the rest of EU, with both parties bringing pragmatic and sustainable solutions to the table.