Finally, to almost everybody’s relief in Europe, Greece achieved a settlement for its debt in the Eurogroup. After five months of hard negotiations under the government of left-winger Alexis Tsipras, who was elected last January on the grounds of his promise to “give an end to the austerity and MoU policies”, and after a controversial referendum, Greece and her EU partners agreed to a new rescue package.
I spent a lot of thinking and reflection on this issue, which dominated the international networks’ reports for several days. Instead of trying to give you the answers I found (which could be misleading since there is no “one and only truth” but only everybody’s perceptions and views), I would like to share with you the questions I came up with. After all, if the questions are the wrong from the outset, then definitely the answers will be as wrong:
1. If Prime Minister Tsipras was elected to end his predecessors’ policies of austerity and their subordination to Troika’s (and Germany’s) cruel and infamous austerity-based policies, which meant that he would clash with the EU’s most powerful regimes, then why didn’t he prepare an “exit plan”? In a negotiation, when someone is decided not to yield to his interlocutors’ will, then deadlock is a highly possible outcome. Maybe I miss something, but I saw no indications of a “plan B” in case of a failure (which, at the end of the day, was at least as possible as a “happy end”).
2. If Prime Minister Tsipras was to agree with a new rescue agreement and a new MoU that includes almost all the maladies of the previous ones (including harsh austerity measures and clauses that curtail Greece’s sovereignty), then why did the Greek people vote for him? Having in mind that during his tenure Greece’s debt has dramatically increased and austerity will continue, which is his net contribution to Greece’s fight to overcome its huge problems? I would like to remind you that Prime Minister Tsipras was not elected after his predecessor’s tenure ended, but that he provoked early elections by not giving his party’s parliamentary acquiescence for the new President of the Republic (whose powers are not essential, but rather symbolic) who was proposed by the former Prime Minister. He followed this indirect way towards the elections because he believed that the former government’s days in power should end and Greece should “tear the MoUs”.
3. And the “one million question”: having in mind the way Greece’s EU partners treated her (especially the German Ministry of Finance), while the Greek people was suffering an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, is this the EU we want? Is this the EU envisaged by its founding fathers? Is this the kind of Union described in the founding Treaties? Is this a union of solidarity and equality, wherein democracy and human rights prevail?
I’m sure that all the protagonists of the Greek drama will have a lot to explain in the days to come, and that this agreement will not be the end. Unfortunately, the Greek people will suffer even more, until the Greek debt becomes viable and Greece returns to growth rates.
The Greek leadership should try much harder for this end, and definitely with a much better strategic plan. .
In any case though, Greece, the motherland of democracy and philosophy, is indispensable to Europe.
And Europe should start thinking whether Unity could be taken for granted, especially after the blackmails and the revengeful treatment Greece had in the last weeks.
Elias A. Spyrou