In the country where mythology was born and everything is examined from a purely Greek perspective, a discussion is under way as to how much foreign officials support Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and why. So what’s the answer?
European nations don’t want any more trouble with Greece. Tsipras has managed to implement another memorandum without any major upheaval. That suits them just fine. When he was first elected, Tsipras was seen as a threat to the European status quo. If the attempted blackmail of Europe had worked or if Greece had left the eurozone, there would had been a very real risk that similar movements in Spain, Italy and elsewhere would have been bolstered. The fact that Tsipras fell into line provided a great example.
There is great cynicism about Greece in the European establishment. No one believes it can reform beyond a certain point. Nonetheless deals are still struck. The only thing that Northern European countries are really concerned about is ensuring Greece does not reappear asking for money and a new program. They cannot endure the political cost of such a development, which they perceive as a nightmare. They are well aware of the country’s large structural and institutional problems. But they look the other way when important institutional damage occurs due to indifference and “Greek fatigue.”
Americans see that anti-American sentiment in Greece is on the wane and a leftist government is resolving various issues to their satisfaction. Tsipras’s visit to Washington will again spark dozens of scenarios. What does this all mean, practically speaking? People are impressed that there is international support, but they have more serious daily problems to deal with.
International support in the post-dictatorship era has never rescued political leaders. The Europeans and the Americans just want the country to be stable. Ideally, they would want Tsipras to give way to a center-right reformist politician like New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis. They don’t really care if or how that would come about. Supervision, with or without the IMF, will continue. As long as we do not ask for more money.
All the red-carpet treatment can make a politician feel like he is on top of the world. But at the end of the day, the political game depends on other things. There unavoidably comes a point when all that comes to an abrupt end. And Tsipras, like all of his predecessors, will want to speak to the chancellor, but she will only accept a call on an unofficial line because “it would not be proper and could upset the next prime minister.”