Trying to follow the machinations of Greek creditors and the Greek government over the past week was like being caught in the spin cycle of a washer; everyone went round and round without getting anywhere.
The perpetual Greek debt crisis is once again roiling markets and making everyone nervous. The Greek government needs an infusion of bailout cash to avoid default, but creditors are refusing to supply it until they make at least a gesture toward the idea of responsible governance.
In truth, the real show is in Athens where the Prime Minister, Alex Tsipras, keeps telling his far left Syriza party in parliament one thing, while telling the rest of Europe something completely different. He told the parliament that a deal was close, while blasting Greece’s creditors in the press for their “absurd” demands. I suppose to a leftist nutcase like Tsipras, it is “absurd” for the creditors to expect to be repaid, or the rest of Europe to refuse to subsidize the Greek’s massive welfare state.
One of Tsirpas’s few allies in Europe, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, is at his wits end trying to deal with his unstable friend.
In unusually sharp terms, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker accused Tsipras of distorting proposals by international creditors for a cash-for-reform agreement and of dragging his feet in putting forward alternative proposals.
He urged Athens to put its own ideas on the table swiftly to enable talks to resume on the sidelines of an EU-Latin America summit on Wednesday in Brussels.
In Athens, a government official said Greece wanted to continue to negotiate “at a political level” to find convergence with the lenders. However, the euro zone and the International Monetary Fund have made clear the numbers must first add up in technical negotiations before there can be a political deal.
Tsipras had been expected to return to Brussels last Friday to resume negotiations. But faced with a backlash against the creditors’ proposal in his Syriza party, he went to parliament in Athens instead and denounced the offer as “absurd.”
Juncker came close to accusing him of duplicity.
“I don’t have a personal problem with Alexis Tsipras, quite the contrary. He was my friend, he is my friend. But friendship, in order to maintain it, has to have some minimum rules,” he told a news conference at a summit of the Group of Seven leading industrial democracies in Germany.
Juncker was essentially accusing Tsipras of lying because the PM said twice last week that reform proposals were coming — and then they didn’t come.
Tsipras’s notion that he can wiggle out from under his obligations by appealing to the politicians is about as delusional as it gets. Do you think Angela Merkel gives a rat’s posterior about Tsipras’s political problems?
Tsipras is drowning and no one is in any mood to throw him a lifeline. He has strutted arrogantly across the stage in Europe since his election, claiming a mandate that doesn’t exist except in his fevered imagination, and making thinly veiled references to Chancellor Merkel as a Nazi.
Whatever happens to him and Greece will be only what they deserve.