Greek Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras is taking a beating in the world press for reneging on promises to handle the Troika and seek debt relief, but then caving.
Ten Days That Shook The Euro
Reuters – Alistair Macdonald & Jan Strupczewski
The “rock star” took on the rock. And the rock won.
Germany’s Wolfgang Schaeuble, the «immovable object» in the words of one economist, stopped Greece’s charismatic new finance minister Yanis Varoufakis in his tracks, forcing Athens to extend a bailout program on Friday on terms its government was just elected to get out of.
It was not just German opposition. The new Greek found itself without a single firm ally among 18 euro zone peers in its drive to reverse austerity and renegotiate its debt pile.
The 10 days it took to strike a deal featured a shambolic round of U-turns, leaked drafts and personal slights while panicked savers withdrew money and pushed Greek banks close to failure, forcing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to step in over Varoufakis’s head.
More than that, the confusion officials recounted from behind the scenes left mutual trust in such tatters that it casts doubt on whether the four-month bailout extension will lead to an agreement over how to keep Athens solvent.
So short had goodwill become that when Varoufakis sent a letter on Thursday requesting an extension to the bailout he had long resisted, in language that to non-lawyers sounded close to total capitulation, German negotiators quickly shot it down as a “Trojan horse”, worded to wriggle out of conditions.
The principal actors played down personal animosities during the talks; Varoufakis took pains to apologise to Schaeuble for a Greek newspaper cartoon that depicted the 72-year-old former tax lawyer as a Nazi demanding to boil Greeks down for soap.
But a series of trips to Brussels to hear about the evils of austerity from the casually dressed left-wing academic blogger – “a bit of a rock star” in the words of Ireland’s minister – stretched patience thin.
Greece Must Find Redemption On Its Own
Irish Examiner – Ray Kinsella
The meeting of the eurogroup of finance ministers on Friday did nothing to resolve the Greek dimension of the eurozone crisis. There was no ‘resolution’ to the crisis — just another series of processes that paper over the internal contradictions and inequalities which now characterise the eurozone.
The Greek government has spent the weekend drawing up yet another list of ‘reforms’ which will be reviewed today by the troika, while Syriza presents the Greek parliament with a deal that falls well short of the anti-austerity mandate on which the party was elected. Even then, there are no guarantees. The deal enforced on the Greeks must be ratified by national parliaments before the end of the month. And only then will talks with creditors begin.
What Friday’s meeting did demonstrate, with icy clarity, was German hegemony. It brought to the surface the divisions that now exist at every level across Europe
Greece a Debt Colony With a Bit of Home Rule
4 News – Paul Mason
The Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, averted total surrender to a German led demand for Greece to implement the total austerity programme of its former conservative government. He did so by signing up immediately to a compromise that, in his mind, retained about 20 per cent of the programme Syriza was elected on.
If Friday’s deal holds then Greece – which Varoufakis describes as a “debt colony” will effectively be a debt colony with a bit more “home rule” – and, to continue the analogy, minus what development theorists used to call the “comprador bourgeoisie”.
But two factors could destabilise that. First the revolt within Syriza at the scale of the climbdown. Syriza’s veteran MEP, war resistance hero Manolis Glezos, who tore down the Swastika from the Acropolis in 1941, called for mass mobilisations to resist the agreement.
But Mr Glezos is not as crucial as the organised Left Platform within Syriza, led by the economy minister Panagiotis Lafazanis, and backed by London SOAS professor, turned MP, Costas Lapavitsas.
If the Left Platform were to formally oppose the deal in the Greek parliament, Syriza would have to rely on centrist votes to get it through – and Lafazanis (and possibly some junior ministers) would have to leave the government.
The Revolution is Over Before it Started
The New York Times
The “anti-austerity revolution” proclaimed by Syriza and its fans elsewhere, however, has now fizzled, its passions doused by the political reality that leaders in the rest of Europe do not want to join or, more important, finance the Greek-led revolt.
But an agreement to extend Greece’s bailout for four months also committed it to honor fiscal targets and other conditions it had vowed to scrap and left intact the supervising role of the so-called troika — a trio of creditor bodies that Syriza wanted banished, viewing it as the hated symbol of their country’s subordination to so-called “neo-liberal” economic dogma.
Moreover, the finance ministers made clear that Greece will not get any more cash until it satisfies them that it can keep a lid on spending, setting the stage for yet more tense negotiations in coming days and weeks.
Syriza still claimed victory but few outside the party — and some within it — saw anything other than an abrupt halt to its iconoclastic vision of a “new deal” in which voters, not markets and Brussels technocrats, decide how money flows and on what terms.
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