A non paper for local consumption

The meeting between Alexis Tsipras and Olli Rehn in Strasbourg on Thursday could be interpreted as – and eventually turn out to be – a continuation of the stance that SYRIZA’s chief projected during a speech he delivered in Texas recently, a position considered to be more “European,” one in which he appeared to distance himself from the party’s previous position, prompting internal discord in the process.

Besides, up until now we were used to observing SYRIZA’s leadership avoiding contact with European officials and vice versa.

Of course all of this has to do with appearances as we are not in a position to know exactly what the two men discussed during their meeting.

What we did learn through the non-paper circulated by SYRIZA, however, is that the Finnish commissioner is considering running for the European Commission’s presidency, although there was absolutely nothing on what he actually said to Tsipras.

In other words, SYRIZA was quick to inform public opinion of the determined and proud stance adopted by the party’s president, but was far less vocal on what he actually discussed with Rehn.

This was the basis of the information fed to the local press through the non-paper method, as opposed to an official statement which could have led to his interlocutor denying any possible inaccuracies.

It is no coincidence that the non-paper mentioned certain aspects of the discussion which included Tsipras making references regarding the dangers threatening the European Union and European economy if they don’t comply with his recommendations.

According to the non-paper, Rehn asked Tsipras whether or not he wanted Greece to remain within a European framework. Tsipras underlined that SYRIZA’s positions were well known and that it would be wise not to carry on with the specific discussion which he deemed to be dangerous for both the Greek and the European economies. Based on this (non) answer, third parties could conclude any of the following: first of all that Tsipras left the issue open in order for Europeans to feel the pressure and be anxious; second that he indirectly answered “yes” based on the position he had expressed in Texas; third, that he did not elaborate out of fear of reaction from the opposition within his party; and, fourth, he avoided the question as a means of maintaining his contentious profile back home. Exactly how is his (non) answer tied to the dangers for the Greek and European economies?

Perhaps Tsipras believes that Greece is still a systemic danger as far as Europe is concerned, if that is what he said to Rehn in private. But is that the case? Because the whole non-paper idea gives out the impression of selective information for local consumption, in Greece and within SYRIZA.