Zone de Texte: To Build a Danube-Aegean Channel and save Greece

By Dragan Pavlovic
Research Director, Greifswald University, Germany

 

(Dialogue, International Journal for Arts and Sciences, June 2012.)

The proposal by Mr. George Soros (Financial Times, September 30, 2011, page 11) is concrete, hard to implement, but still possible. A common treasury and European Central Bank monitoring is certainly a must and the protection of some states an obligation.

 

Indeed Mr. Soros maintains that “These measures would allow Greece to default without causing a global meltdown. (…) That does not mean that Greece would be forced to default. If Greece met its targets (…).” Or “How Greece fared under those circumstances would be up to the Greeks”. I think that such a position may give us many more chances to avoid a “second Great Depression” but it nevertheless neglects certain aspects of the Greek financial and more general political and social disaster. The EU will, in the worst scenario, just postpone its agony. Therefore some measures that would directly involve Greece in actively contributing to its own recovery and establishing an economic basis for the future at a more distant point in time are needed. This would include healthy investments: Probably some financial packages should be in the form of  concrete investments that would be of European importance, offer a serious return in the future, and also open thousands of jobs for the Greeks. Such an investment opportunity would be a European project for the regularization of the fluvial route from the Danube to the Aegean. This is an almost 200 years old project that never reached its final stages because of the political turmoil that the region passed through over the last two centuries.

 

However, the project has been examined repeatedly since the mid -19th century, and its most recent evaluation was carried out at the end of the 20th century. The Danube-Aegean channel would shorten the fluvial route from Central Europe to the warm water Mediterranean sea significantly and contribute to the development of the region that represents the weak point of the EU. In the immediate future, the invested money would turn into salaries for the Greeks and quite certain financial security for the coming decade.

 

If the EU were to be the main investor, then it could assure that the jobs on the channel building were obtained by Greek companies and that the future channel would in great part continue to assure returns to Greece, at least for some time. The benefits for the adjacent critical regions, Serbia, and Macedonia, would be in the increase of simple fluvial transport. A number of other benefits, in the hydro-energetic, agricultural and tourism areas, just to mention a few of them, would flourish.

 

This channel Danube-Aegean in combination with some aspects of the plan presented by Mr. Soros, could prove to be an effective measure to solve the crisis and support the region in the long run. Such project would involve much lower costs than would be the case if this were to be attempted without any substantial investments in infrastructures. The channel would in all likelihood provide substantial returns relatively rapidly. Combining vigorous measures that have been suggested with real investments may be more secure way-out of the looming Depression.

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See also:

SPIEGEL Interview with George Soros

Bloomberg Interview with George Soros

 

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