The acute Greek crisis is a testimony of the lack of a level playing field and democratic institutions within Europe and the world. It is everybody’s concern – at home, within the Euro Zone and the European Union (EU), and even beyond. The issues are broader than the current crisis; they have to do with finance, democracy, degree of integration within the EU, lack of social-economic rescue systems, and more. The crisis has gone on for at least 5 years when EU introduced its austerity measures, which have done little good to solve the crisis, only postpone its solution. True, before that, Greece lived beyond its means and borrowed more than it should have done, overseen by different conservative and social-democratic governments. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the EU financial institutions must have been dozing at the steering wheel when it could go on without the introduction of any corrective measures. But then, the larger countries within EU, banks and private companies have made huge profits on the Greek crisis.

Greece is a small European country with just about 11 million people and a relatively small economy, the forty-third largest in the world. It is an industrialised country with and advanced economy and people enjoy a high standard of living. Furthermore, Greece is considered the birthplace of the European civilisation; we have read about its old philosophers and its democratic thinking. Situated in southeastern Europe, bordering Asia, with very long coastlines benefiting livelihoods like fishing, shipping and tourism, Greece is a strategic country culturally, militarily, and in other ways. Today, it has a high influx of refugees. The country has high military expenses and is a member in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). Greece was the tenth country to join EU and is a member of the Euro. Greece is a member of the United Nations, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and other organisations.

Greece’s leftist government, lead by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis (a professor in political economy who has worked in the UK, US, Australia and in Greece for many years) came into power only about half a year ago on the promise of ending the austerity measures and seeking sustainable relations with EU and stay within the Euro Zone. The debt and financial crisis had reached its bottom; there was no more belt-tightening to be done. The new government seems to have made little headway with its creditors and the EU partners; hence the crisis finally became visible and indeed imminent over the last few months and weeks; Greece would no longer be able to pay its debts to the international community (IMF and EU).

This must have been obvious for years to analysts and politicians, indeed EU commissioners, IMF bureaucrats and others. Finally, Prime Minister Tsipras said that ‘the emperor has no clothes on’, to use an analogy from the Danish writer H.C. Andersen’s fantastic story. In his tale, it was a child that said what all the wise men didn’t want to say; they were just pretending and telling the emperor what he wanted to hear, that his new suit was so beautiful, while he was actually naked. Nobody wanted to accept the truth about Greece’s situation.

Yes, the crisis is a Greek crisis since the people in that country feel the pinch directly, with reduced social services, lack of health insurance and huge unemployment. But the crisis is indeed also a failure of the international cooperation and monetary organisations, notably EU and IMF.

Now, the EU and IMF are irritated, to understate the situation; the principled, logical and quite academic Greek government has ‘belled the cat’.

They were termed ‘inexperience, ideological, unrealistic’ and more by their opponents. Now, we see that they were right, notably that there was no point trying any longer to seek solutions to the country’s bankruptcy unless the EU and IMF changed their paradigm of thinking, notably restructure the debt and write off much of it – similar to what happened to Germany and other countries after the Second World War .

Even the otherwise logical and practical Christine Lagarde, the IMF head, whom I have always liked, has not been up to the mark. A few days ago she even tried to come up with legalistic arguments, not substantive arguments, related to Greece’s intended referendum to be held on the coming Sunday. She was arrogant, like Jean-Claude Juncker, the EU President, and the former EU President Jose Manuel Barroso, when he last week was interviewed on BBC.

They all reacted like leaders of such oversized organisations would; showing their power and aloofness. They had become too used to having things their own way, living sheltered lives for too long, not operating on a level playing field, simply believing that they were too big to fail. They seemed to lack the ability to see the reality from below, where the Greek people are now.

Sunday’s planned referendum is about the austerity measures and whether the people want Greece to stay within the Euro Zone; it is a double check if they want the government to go ahead with what they half a year received a mandate to do. But it is more; it is a referendum on democracy within EU and the degree of integration of independent countries.

Since I don’t know how the Greek people are likely to vote on Sunday, and if new solutions might be found before or after the referendum, irrespective of its outcome, I cannot predict about Greece’s future – or that of the EU, the Euro currency, IMF, and other countries in Europe needing assistance. It is still too early to draw conclusions about the impact on economic cooperation and integration in Europe, the self-infliction of damage to its institutions, and broader aspects related to democracy and development.

What I do know is that the referendum will shatter the institutions. I suspect that EU has gambled and hopes that the current left-wing government in Greece will resign next week, if the referendum is a clear ‘yes’ to continues EU and Euro cooperation on the current conditions, never mind that it is unsustainable.

Whatever happens, I believe the all-mighty EU will become more real quite soon. It will have to restructure Greece’s debt and write off most of it. Then Europe and Greece can recover more quickly, also with a number of changes within Greece, like reduced military expenses, higher taxes for the rich, and more. Greece may be bankrupt, but should not be on ideas for change and innovation and how to share what they have; after all, Greece is not a poor countries.

It is a surprise that the international organisations could not find solutions to the Greek crisis sooner. But to developing countries, maybe it is not a surprise; they know this is how IMF and the ‘international community’ behave. There is no level playing field. At least there wasn’t until now, but now we stand a chance of seeing some change. I am a little bit hopeful.

Let me end by a quote in Latin from the famous Roman poet Horace (65BC-6BC), who also spent his youth in Greece. When the country had lost in war, he wrote: Graecia capta ferum victorem cepit; ‘Greece, although captured, took its wild conqueror captive’.