COMMENT

The good news and the bad

By Alexis Papachelas

The good news is that a Greek default will most likely be prevented, a deal will be reached with the country’s creditors and an extension will be granted for negotiations over the next bailout. This is what has been decided by Angela Merkel, following pressure from Washington. The European Commission also played a pivotal role here, led by its president, Jean-Claude Juncker. The hard part will be implementation. To begin with, it will have to be accepted by certain powerful people and organizations that disagree with a “soft” agreement, chiefly German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and, to a lesser degree, the European Central Bank (ECB). The plan will work provided that Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras gets certain tax measures and a few other mini-reforms demanded by the institutions, through Parliament. Based on this scenario, we will get through the summer before crunch talks start in September.

The bad news is that European decision-makers are not afraid of the repercussions of a Greek accident. The IMF has said that this would be manageable, provided that the leading players are on the same page – which is already the case. The fear of a “revolutionary domino” effect, in other words, of the Greek model spreading to other European countries, is also non-existent. It was there in the past but no one takes it seriously any longer.

So why should our peers back us? While they don’t exactly pity us, they are concerned about Greece becoming a failed state. Those dealing with Greece in Washington, Brussels and Berlin believe that a bankruptcy, not to mention a Grexit, would completely destroy whatever is left of a dysfunctional state, such as security mechanisms and border controls. No one wants this, either because of Russia or because of the country’s location as a buffer with the Middle East.

So what will happen? Athens will agree to pseudo-reforms, Europe will accept them, these will never be implemented, we will get tiny cash injections and then we’ll wait and see. Behind this plan lies a profound lack of trust in Greece’s politicians and its so-called elite. They believe that no one is really championing reforms and society is unprepared for big changes. What they’re probably thinking is that they should just let Greece stay in the eurozone, barely surviving, sending a cash injection every now and then to keep us going and avoid even worse problems.

While this should come as a relief, it is also infuriating because I know what my country and its people are capable of when not dragging their feet in self-destructive introversion. I cannot bear the idea of Greece being treated as a small problematic state living on charity and fear. This is not to say that I would rather see Greece coming to a rift. There is another way and we Greeks will find it when the time comes.

Online