Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Greece: the negotiating goes forward

There is lots of venom against Greece from German politicians and the press these days. Because Greece is finally pushing back against the ruinous austerity policy Angela Merkel successfully imposed on them for years via the EU institutions.

Keep Talking Greece reports (Schaeuble’s platitudes: ”Greece’s debt problems because the country lived far beyond its means in the past” 03/17/2015):

Well ... German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble is disappointed by the Greek government… And after five years of crisis, he came to the stunning conclusion that “the reason for Greece’s debt problems was that the country lived far beyond its means in the past.

He said on Monday that “the new Greek government destroyed all the trust that had been rebuilt in the past.” ...

OK. We have heard this platitude by Schaeuble quite many times since 2010. Nothing new, nothing important and nothing thoughtful. And nothing, not a single sentence adding solution to the problem.
And the media griping about Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis even in the German "quality" press is at the level of the American press corps chasing the latest Clinton pseudoscandal.

Renee Maltezou and Costas Pitas report for Reuters (Greece rejects 'blackmail', seeks meeting with top EU leaders 03/17/2015):

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras wants to meet top European leaders at this week's EU summit, a Greek official said on Tuesday, as Athens insisted it would not be 'blackmailed' over its debt crisis.

Greece risks running out of cash within weeks but its EU partners, angered by the new government's fiery rhetoric against its international bailout, have frozen financial aid until it shows it is implementing reforms.
This is Merkel putting major pressure on Greece. But Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras isn't backing down:

Appealing for European solidarity, Deputy Prime Minister Yannis Dragasakis called on Greece's partners to help release the country from a trap.

"The country is in a position like that of Sisyphus — a man condemned to roll a boulder to the top of a hill, only to see it roll down again," he said in an article co-authored with Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and deputy minister for international economic relations Euclid Tsakalotos in the Financial Times.

"We risk condemning an entire generation to a future without hope. To avoid that, what we ask from our eurozone partners is to treat Greece as an equal and help us escape from this Sisyphean trap."
Tsipras' government is also reminding his EU partners that there are various diplomatic options for Greece. Deutsche Welle English reports (Greece pulls forward Moscow meeting 03/17/2015):

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was already scheduled to visit Moscow in May for the annual Victory Day parade celebrating the capitulation of the Nazis to the Red Army. On Tuesday, he announced that he was making another visit to Russia - a full month ahead of schedule.

"The prime minister will visit the Kremlin following an invitation from Russian President Vladimir Putin," said a government source without giving a reason for pulling the meeting forward.

Tsipras has made no secret of seeking closer ties to Russia, and a number of Greek officials have openly broached the subject of Athens turning to Russia or China for financial assistance if loan talks with the EU end in failure.
You're doing a heckuva job with your European policies, Angie, a heckuva job!

Deutsche Welle English also reports that Tsipras got the meeting with senior EU officials he was seeking for later this week (Bernd Riegert, Greece on the agenda - again 03/17/2015):

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras prevailed after all: it looks like he's being given the opportunity to address the Greek debt crisis at the upcoming EU summit on Thursday and Friday.

Current EU Council President Donald Tusk had previously refused to put the issue on the agenda, but after a flurry of phone calls between Tsipras, Tusk and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, there might very well be a special meeting on the sidelines of the summit. According to Greek Radio, it would include Tsipras, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, ECB chief Mario Draghi and Jean-Claude Juncker.

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