Hawks and doves

Hawks and doves

The hypocrisy continues, and everyone is playing their part.

The leftist-led government brought to Parliament a package of austerity measures it does not believe in – in fact, measures which are mandated by a bailout agreement that it refuses to take ownership of.

The European doves are well aware that the reforms will remain lame, the additional taxes will not be collected, and that numbers do not add up. Their main priority at the moment is to make sure that the Greek problem does not show up on the radar at a time when major challenges are at play, including the prospect of Brexit, political uncertainty in Spain, and the refugee crisis.

In a way, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras ticks all the right boxes: He has accepted all requirements regarding NATO’s migrant mission in the Aegean Sea and the concession of sovereignty in dealing with the refugee issue. Furthermore, Greece’s international creditors deem that a center-right government would have trouble passing austerity measures of this magnitude. And they are right.

On the other side, there are the hawks, playing their own monotonous game. They have essentially given up all hope that Greece can transform itself into a “normal” state. So what do they do? On one hand, they OK measures such as tax hikes although they know that the numbers do not add up. On the other, they are constantly moving the goalposts, taking advantage of general fatigue with the so-called Greek issue and the credibility damage suffered during the crisis years. It is unthinkable, for example, that Greece is being asked to legislate a package of contingency measures. But because the main players cannot reach an agreement on fundamental issues, such as debt relief, they seem to be conjuring up new issues so as to simply kick the can down the road.

Greece’s reaction to all this has been weak. The government is being dragged by developments. It is a bystander.

That said, passing the measures, finding a compromise on contingency measures and then reaching some deal on debt relief will not really solve the Greek problem. The new wave of taxes and social security contributions will throw society into a fresh state of despair. Social frustration is growing. Some people are wondering whether a return to the drachma would be a good idea, after all. Suffocation, the lack of a credible alternative and the prolonged darkness are unbearable.

The hawks are happy to see their conclusions being justified. This could mean that what they failed to achieve last summer will now come across as an inevitable demand from Greece. The doves will try to put out the fire – but unsuccessfully. Meanwhile, the government will try to come up with a good PR strategy for the day after.

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