May 28th, 2012
05:38 PM GMT
London (CNN) – You’d be forgiven if the mild bounce in the markets Monday had you dreaming of better times for Greece and the eurozone. Your wakeup call comes to you courtesy Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, former French Finance Minister and the latest establishment figure to heap scorn on Greece.
In a lengthy and wide-ranging interview with the Guardian newspaper, Lagarde may have for the first time uttered in public what some suspect many European politicians are saying behind closed doors. It’s payback time for Greece.
Within hours, the indignation in Greece was palpable and laid bare on her Facebook page. Nearly 20,000 people have protested calling her insensitive and worse, arrogant.
As one Greek mother put it to CNN, Lagarde should visit real people in Greece, not politicians, to see how we living.
Lagarde responded, somewhat contrite, via Facebook, saying she is sympathetic to the challenges Greece is facing.
But as Dr. Thano Dokos, the director of Athens-based think tank ELIAMEP tells me, the damage is done. “This is a humiliated country, telling us what to do will not be well accepted.” he said.
As Dr. Dokos points out, everyone in Greece knows more tax compliance is needed. The problem is hardly new but it is also not a panacea.
The fact remains, Lagarde's comments are poorly timed. Just as polls show the pro-bailout parties are gaining some traction in Greece, her blunt assessment has been used as valuable ammunition for anti-austerity forces.
Europeans will need a strong stomach to weather the turbulence that is sure to come in the next few weeks. But Lagarde's comments underscore a fear that the entire continent is in denial and barely able to grasp reforms that must now follow, and not just in Greece.
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