The parliamentary debate on Wednesday on the bill dealing with efforts to alleviate the humanitarian crisis, which garnered a large consensus, was a wretched spectacle. Restoring parliamentary order is the exclusive responsibility of all the house’s members, irrespective of party. If the nation’s representatives are happy with the image of an animal house that they presented for hours, then there is no need for us citizens to concern ourselves with them.
Nevertheless, the whole issue is secondary, no matter how much it upsets the public’s opinion. The Greek tragedy is playing out beyond our borders, there where the “popular mandate” or any “contract” between the citizens and the government is of limited importance.
The European Union’s democratic deficit, which was noted decades ago but has not been dealt with, widened dramatically when markets were allowed to become more important than politics.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is convinced that the problem in relations between Greece and its partners is basically “political.” He undertook an initiative and asked for a six-party meeting – including the leaders of France and Germany – for a political discussion. The request was accepted, with the addition of Eurogroup chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem, whom the Greek side intended to sidestep. It would have been better if Tsipras confined himself to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s invitation for a bilateral meeting with her this coming Monday. Those talks will be informal, they will have an exclusively political dimension and if they end in failure this need not be made public. The seven-party “summit” does not provide any of the above.
The way things have turned out, it would be best if Thursday’s meeting is simply exploratory. A clash at this level would lead to a point of no return. Division must be noted at a lower level, never at a summit.
The prime minister is right when he says that the dispute regarding Greece is primarily political and not economic. The fiscal discipline that was imposed on the eurozone is questioned by the United States, and the Germans, who (whether they liked it or not) undertook the leadership of the EU, must prove that their method for dealing with the crisis “works,” even if it crushes decades of European political order.
Tsipras is a young politician who comes into contact daily with a relentless European reality. He knows that the clash has just begun, that total victory is unattainable, and that some gains, at regular intervals, are enough. But this could happen in his coming meeting with Merkel.