Once upon a time there was a beautiful historical country that used to be part of the European Union. It became the 10th country to join the block in 1981 and was evolved ever since to become a pole of stability and growth in the Balkan region and serve crucial geo-strategic interests in the Mediterranean. The introduction in the chapter of Greece in the history books about Europe in 50 years from now could be similar. What would be difficult to foresee are the words the historian of the future will refer to the clumsiest political mistake that irrevocably and suddenly showed in 2015 Greece the way out of Eurozone and possibly of the block.
The Greek financial and debt crisis has been in the spotlight of the world for quite some time now. We have been monitoring very closely the gradual escalation and deterioration of the negotiations of the European Union with the newly elected leftist government. There is always something to say before and after every Eurogroup and EU Summit while at the same time the bomb is ticking fast towards the final deadline of the 30th of June, when the Greek bailout programme expires and the country enters a real financial limbo. Last week there were some good positive signs of a final agreement to be reached. Nevertheless, this newspaper had predicted that the sides will not sign any agreement last week and unfortunately we were right.
While the world was anticipating yesterday’s Eurogroup as the meeting that would finally decide on Greece’s future, the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras felt like stealing the show. In a unique move in the history of politics in the developed world the youngest premier in the Greek democracy took the microphone a bit after at the early hours of Saturday and he absurdly declared the country in a “state of war”. The fearless Greek political leader basically denounced the proposed agreement with the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF and called the Greek citizens to do his job, to rather cut a deal with the creditors on their own?
However bizarre this might sound, Mr Tsipras totally blew it yesterday, by announcing the #Greferendum; a referendum towards the Greek people, the second in the country’s political history since the 1970s, to be executed in just one week’s time and the question being the following:
“According to relevant decision and suggestion of the council of ministers to the Greek Parliament, after recommendation of the Prime Minister, during the process of the suggested referendum, the Greek people will be called to decide with their vote whether there should be accepted the agreement plan proposed by the European Commission, European Central Bank and the IMF in the Eurogroup of the 25/06/2015 and is composed by two documents which compose the proposition on which the referendum is presented: the first document titled “Reforms of the completion of the Current Program and Beyond” and the second “Preliminary Debt sustainability analysis”.
Those who reject the proposal of the three institutions VOTE NOT ACCEPTED/NO
Those who accept the proposal of the three institutions VOTE ACCEPTED/YES”
Does this sound like a question you think that the average Greek is able to comprehend and vote for/against? If not, do embrace yourselves for what you hear next. Despite the unorthodox nature of the referendum question and its confusing wording for any citizen in this world, it turns out that neither of the two documents referred to are official agreement documents signed by the EU side. Instead, those are extensive documents that were presented by the government to the Greek parliament yesterday and are mainly consisted of draft notes exchanged between the two parties during the long negotiations between the Southern European country and its creditors.
So, the “political ingenuity” of the Greek government currently decided it would be essential that 11,000,000 citizens will have to judge two technical macroeconomic technical documents that they will never be able to see or even so understand. What is more, the “responsible” Prime Minister called the Greek citizen to answer a clear NO and so did his “comrades” in the leftist party of Syriza. They are even planning to campaign around Greece next week to travel and make extra governmental route costs in a country where the gasoline in the tanks of the cars and the groceries at the supermarkets will start running out as of tomorrow.
This is Sparta
It seems that the hardcore leftists envisage that they will be able to reach out their electorate around the country while the ATM s will not be working and anarchy will be ruling. However sick this may sound, the Greek politicians that govern that country in the European south today believe that on top of that the creditors will be “scared” and come back to them with an “easy” proposal instead of stringent austerity. Mr Varoufakis, the non politician and of doubtful political intelligence Finance Minister, underlined during a press conference yesterday that he really “HOPES” the institutions will back off and will present last minute a new “magic” easy to digest agreement proposal by Tuesday, when the current programme expires.
Sadly for the leftist ultras of Greece, the President of the Eurogroup, Jeroen Dijsselbloem said openly yesterday that it came as a surprise to the debtors that Greece suddenly left from the negotiation table announcing the referendum. He also rejected Greece’s latest request to extend the existing programme for a few weeks, so that the referendum operates smoothly. He seriously warned about the “tough times” that the Greek government will have to manage on its own from Tuesday onwards. Last, he made it clear that Eurozone and the European Central Bank will take all possible measures to defend themselves from an inevitable Greek default.
All this at the same time when the Greek parliament voted in favour of executing of the referendum yesterday with a vote of 178 to 120. To be noted that except the government, the Greek Nazi party, Greek Dawn, also voted in favour, taking the opportunity to benefit from this polarisation of the electorate in order to worryingly increase perhaps their power and rhetoric.
“Hanging” the Greeks
This is clearly the biggest crisis unfolding in Eurozone since its very existence. Greece was among the first members to join and apparently will also be the first to exit it. Eurozone’s weaknesses and EU leaders’s stubbornness towards austerity aside, Greece officially committed suicide yesterday. Following obscene and unreasonable hard core leftist tactics Mr Tsipras literally put the rope around the Greeks’ neck threatening that he will kick the bucket if the elite of Europe does not reconsider austerity.
All in all, history will always remember the brave and the bold. But how far is really braveness from stupidity? In principle the borderline is thin but in this case one could say that it is just not there. Tsipras and his comrades never seize to think even today that by showing bravery and suicidal behaviour, of the level Leonidas showed, they will be able to push the European political elite to reconcile with less fiscal consolidation and structural reforms.
Stopping tanks with flowers
Convincing a Europe that is not run today at all by great inspired political personalities with a concrete vision but by bankers and analysts with thick glasses, who see as far as their pay check at the end of the month, is certainly not a piece of cake. The large inability of the Greek politicians though or anybody else to empathise and understand this new world order makes them inescapably incompetent, naive, dangerous. Tsipras launched yesterday a salto mortale gamble with 11,000,000 lives in the most unprofessional, absurd and irresponsible manner.
He will be judged by history for this political gaffe and Greece will face capital controls, panic and social division next week until the referendum of 06 July, at least. It remains to be seen now whether the bankers that rule Europe have a good plan first to save the rest of Eurozone from contagion and also to show well deserved sympathy for the Greek people.
The Greek drama begins just now.