Dr Iosif Kovras (University of Cyprus), “Who’s sorry now? Explaining (Non) Apologies in Post-Crisis Europe”
Discussant: Professor Stathis Kalyvas (University of Oxford)
Research webinar series on Modern Greek Studies organised by the British School at Athens and the Greek Politics Specialist Group. Recorded 21 June 2021.
In the aftermath of the recent financial meltdown, politicians and bankers apologized for their role in the crisis in some European countries but not others. While in Ireland former prime ministers, senior ministers, state officials and bankers offered their apologies for their actions or omissions in the run-up to the crisis, their counterparts in other European countries with similar background conditions, such as Greece, Portugal, Spain, and Cyprus, did not. To understand why, the paper draws on an in-depth comparative analysis of the most representative case of apologies (Ireland) and non-apologies (Greece). This is coupled with the analysis of a new repository of all recorded official apologies in six European countries, and dozens of interviews with national stakeholders (former ministers, state officials, bankers etc.). While the public and academic debates on post-crisis accountability have been dominated by the absence of bankers’ prosecutions, very limited attention has been paid to the role of official apologies. Shedding light on the rationale (or lack thereof) of apologies in the aftermath of a financial meltdown is significant, yet understudied. As the paper shows, apology could be seen as a symbolic gesture aiming at restoring state-society relations of trust broken by the crisis. The paper contributes to the growing scholarly debates on official apologies by expanding the scope to include the hitherto unexplored area of post-crisis accountability.