Washington guided Greece in bailout talks, envoy reveals

Washington guided Greece in bailout talks, envoy reveals

Washington had advised the previous SYRIZA-Independent Greeks government not to clash head-on with Germany and to show a willingness for reform in the weeks and months leading up to the July 13 agreement on a third bailout between Greece and its lenders.

A secret telegram sent to Athens by Greece’s Ambassador to the US, Christos Panagopoulos, on July 16 synopsized the relations between the two countries over the previous months. The copy seen by Kathimerini suggests that Washington showed a keen interest in keeping Greece in the eurozone and had consistently provided advice on how the government led by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras should handle relations with the rest of the eurozone.

Washington, for instance, advised Athens to avoid verbal attacks on the German government and to try to create a broad alliance including countries like the UK, France, Italy and Austria. The US made it clear that the coalition would have to convince these countries that it was serious about implementing reforms if they were to then, in turn, offer their support.

Panagopoulos also explains in his note that Washington’s strategy was to stress the geopolitical importance of keeping Greece in the single currency and the need for the eurozone to agree a further reduction of Greek debt. The Greek ambassador suggests that the US government also encouraged the International Monetary Fund to be vocal on the issue of debt relief.

Sources also told Kathimerini that it was Washington who emphasized the geopolitical angle to the Greek issue through NATO. On June 19 NATO deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow said a Greek exit would “indeed have repercussions” for the alliance. He told a security conference in Bratislava that NATO was “worried about” a Grexit. His comments came just after Greece and Russia agreed a pipeline deal.

Panagopoulos describes in his telegram that there was frequent and extensive contact between Athens and Washington, including officials from the Treasury and the State Department, during the protracted negotiations that led to the signing of the third bailout in Brussels.

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