Tsipras and the Barbarians
By Serafeim Kotrotsos. Greek Article HERE
Constantine Cavafy writes: (From his poem Waiting for the Barbarians)
Why don’t our distinguished orators come forward as usual
to make their speeches, say what they have to say?
Because the barbarians are coming today
and they’re bored by rhetoric and public speaking.
Why this sudden restlessness, this confusion?
(How serious people’s faces have become.)
Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly,
everyone going home so lost in thought?
Because night has fallen and the barbarians have not come.
And some who have just returned from the border say
there are no barbarians any longer.
And now, what’s going to happen to us without barbarians?
They were, those people, a kind of solution.
Alexis Tsipras confirmed his acceptance by a significant portion of the Greek people three times in a year. The third time, indeed, having signed a hard (third in a row) memorandum, which he pledged to implement.
It is true that the memoranda are describing goals. For insurance, for example, the aim is to reduce the service charge of 1% of the GDP, ie EUR 1.8 billion per year.
The target is binding, the method is not. Unfortunately, the method may be proposed by the Greek government, but the final approval, is granted by the lenders. This means practically, that if the Quartet believes that the goal is not achieved by the proposed method (the Katroungalos plan), then the value of the proposal diminishes.
The same applies to the other outstanding issues in the negotiations.
Even if the estimates of the lenders mainly the IMF have been denied, several times in fact, the persistence of conservative European circles to keep the IMF in a leading role in the game is not easy to reverse.
So if the deal within the next few weeks has not reached a technical agreement with lenders, the only way out for Alexis Tsipras is the objective of a “political solution”. He spoke with Angela Merkel for this exact reason, on the sidelines of the conference about Syria in London, and he will meet on February 17 with François Hollande for the same reason.
Unfortunately for the Greek government it has been revealed several times since January 2015, that a political solution is not performing, since lenders advocate the need to have a clear technical opinion before any EU leaders endorse any solution.
Merkel and Schäuble definitely want the IMF policy pretext, to justify the continuation of the Greek program before the German Parliament. As do the German “satellites” of Northern and Eastern Europe.
Therefore, without the IMF, there is no “omelet”.
Considering all the above, Alexis Tsipras should immediately evaluate his political choices:
First is to use up his last taps of political stock available and close the first evaluation, in hopes that the climate will change in the economy since it will help him to regain his strength and get along with greater comfort and in the political long run. The truth is that there will be a completely different dynamic of things after the completion of the evaluation, starting with the release of quantitative easing by the ECB and the gradual lifting of capital controls, and the ability to coordinate an entrance in the markets.
Second is to collide with lenders (Germany), insisting on his own method of implementation of the Memorandum of targets with extremely increased, however, risk of becoming involved in a new political uncertainty spiral with a Grexit back on the table -as happened in the first seven months of last year. At the end of such a conflict obviously the possibility of elections does exist. This is moreover suggested, according to information, by the toughest in his government. But even at a quite likely possibility to win another election, what makes him believe that he can change the attitude of lenders, who were not particularly moved by neither the 62% of the ‘No’ vote, nor from the electoral triumph of September?
A third option is to hand over the power to a Universal government, which will supposedly have the political scope to implement harsh measures. For now, this seems unlikely, because not even the leadership of ND is considering it.
If you consider that the Pharaonic weight of refugees does not lead Europeans to change course in the financial, insurance and tax (items that function as communicating vessels), then of the above three options, one looks reasonable. The first…
Unless, finally, “the barbarians are kind of a solution.” But for how long?
PS: In response to Spyros Risopoulos’ article (“on Grexit or Universal Government”)