What lies ahead
I think it’s about time we aired a few well-known secrets. Each has its own importance with respect to how the situation will evolve in the near future.
First of all, no one wants to see Greece collapse. On the contrary, all major world players – the United States, Russia and China – wish to see the country return to stability.
Secondly, Berlin, and especially German Chancellor Angela Merkel, wants Greece to be seen as a success story, a country which stood on its feet and underwent radical change. She needs this for her own political survival.
Third, the Americans managed to shake up the Germans and other Europeans into thinking in more geopolitical terms. Everyone now knows what it would mean to the West if Greece was allowed to become a failed state and the kind of danger lurking for everyone involved if extremist powers were to prevail.
And fourthly, those aware of Europe’s inner workings agree that the country’s official debt will be subject to a major haircut after the German elections in the fall.
Taking into account the aforementioned “secrets,” the conclusion is crystal-clear: The troika will offer some leeway, perhaps on a major scale, to fiscal and other issues in the next few months. It will not be lenient, however, with regard to privatizations, reforms and battling tax evasion.
So here’s the question: Will society and the political system survive until then? The middle classes have been pushed to their limits as far as the ever-increasing taxes are concerned, with most people feeling they cannot make ends meet. Meanwhile, the political system has fallen victim to a string of accidents – some random, others led by desperate, dark interests championing chaos.
If you think sensibly, you would imagine that everyone, or at least most, would hope that the country can make it until autumn without a major upset. The same goes for Alexis Tsipras, for it would be unreasonable to want to take over the leadership of a country in such a state.
Perhaps then, we should come to one simple agreement: Carry on with the political theater, but at the same time make an effort to put the basics in order. I don’t see why, for instance, SYRIZA or anyone else would be against reducing tax evasion or carrying out one or two privatizations.
And one more thing: We should speak openly to our partners, provided we keep our basic commitments. First of all, the punishing treatment must come to an end. The country has already paid a hefty price for being singled out as a unique case when the rest of the Southern European countries are hardly prime examples of Calvinism. Secondly, and most importantly, they have to remove the risk of a eurozone exit. This scares off foreign investors and others who could restart the economy more than anyone else.