Kia (ddstory) wrote in talk_politics,

The Greek drama continues

New Greek leader poised to unveil cabinet - FT

Wow, these guys are fast, aren't they? They needed less than a couple of days to get ready with their new cabinet. And what a cabinet it'll be! The neo-commies plus the far-right. Now the door to "re-negotiating" with the creditors of the despicable Troika is open. Hooray. Tsipras has promised to rid Greece of the debt burden, and save it from the crippling austerity measures, and kick the financial supervisors out of the country - while in the meantime ensuring new financial aid from those same stupid gullible Europeans that they'll be flipping the bird to. The latter he calls "solidarity". Because Greece only seems to have rights, not obligations. At least that's what the majority of the Greek voters seem to have been convinced of.

I don't know if there's a better word to characterize all this, but "insolence".

One thing is for sure: the future talks between the new Greek rulers and the EU will be quite "interesting" from here on. The game of poker has started already, Germany hinting that they wouldn't mind kicking Greece out of the Eurozone at this point. Germany is surely in a much better position this time around, which is why the financial ministers in Brussels are demonstrating remarkable calmness for the time being. They've said they remain "cautiously optimistic", and prefer to wait to see what demands the Greeks will come up with, this time. The IMF has clearly stated that there'll be no more bail-outs, and scratching off of debt. The ECB's position is pretty much the same. Similar signals have come from the European Commission, and the German government (whom the Greeks blame for all their woes, btw, not without Godwinning the shit out of the whole situation).

That said, Greece's 175% debt-to-GDP ratio is not even its main problem. Because they're not making any payments on that, anyway. What's more, the interest on that debt was slashed several times, reaching 2.4% at some point, which is way below, say, what the Germans are being granted. But Greece also has debts to the IMF and the US, the latter still refraining from reacting to the constant threats of non-payment.

The problem is elsewhere. Seems like Tsipras wants to get everything without giving anything. During his election campaign, he was sprinkling the electorate with generous promises. He promised lots of things, including stuff that was outright utopian. He promised a generous welfare program that'd eliminate the austerity measures of his predecessors, and a new debt elimination, and full national independence, and further fuding from Europe. He promised that Greece would remain in the Eurozone. Even if much of that we call mere election rhetoric, the rest of it remains as realistic as it could possibly be.

So far, the EU promises to work constructively with the new government. In reality though, the financial ministers of the Union will have to quickly bring the Greek dreams of new hand-outs back to earth. And most importantly, nobody in Brussels should fall for the charisma of Tsipras the "nice guy". He's a political functionary with an agenda first and foremost. He has never worked in public office, but that doesn't mean he didn't become famous for his ladder-climbing skills among the leftist parties. He's the sort of politician who can't be trusted for a minute, because he'd sacrifice whatever passes for "principles" in his booklet for the sake of gaining more power. The latest decision to side with parties from the exact opposite end of the political spectrum, is yet another confirmation of this.

He just doesn't seem to give a pigeon's dropping about the racist, anti-immigration policies that his new buddies from the party of Independent Greeks are planning to "contribute" with to the future of a continent that's already feeling the heat under its butt in that regard. The threat of such a cancer to Europe's financial stability is not to be underestimated.

Still, before we go all paranoid, I should point out that many commentators expect economic common sense and readiness for compromise to return to Greece very soon, once the enthusiasm has waned and reality hits back. But is that hope an illusion? Everything shows that Tsipras is a skillful poker player, who's prepared to go to whatever lengths are necessary, and use the credit of trust he has been delegated by his constituents to the full. So I'm guessing the EU will have to get used to the thought that one sunny day they might have to shut the door to the Greeks after all, rather than continuing to pour money into a broken bucket that cannot and will not repair itself.

Things haven't reached that point yet, granted. First we'll have to wait and see if Greece is doing anything remotely resembling an effort to meet the newly extended deadlines for deferred debt payment, which have also been associated with regular inspections of the country's economic progress. The Greek government is yet to receive 7 billion euros from the joint EU/IMF aid fund, but it'll have to show some political will for reform first. Only then we'll know what to expect next.
Tags: balkans, crisis, eu, finance
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