On Friday, Europe (apparently) granted Greece a four-month extension to its debt bailout. This is what you might conclude reading the headlines, but you won’t be able to learn the actual terms of the agreement by reading only the headlines. Reality is a bit more convoluted, as you would expect.
The truth, as reflected in the Euro group statement on Greece, seems more a blunt concession to pragmatism, putting an end to the meeting last Friday in time for a well-deserved dinner, sending poor Varoufakis back home to do his homework assignment like a naughty child, and basically buying more time to continue with a tough negotiation on Monday.
Truth is too boring. That’s why politics is all about narratives:
- Yanis Varoufakis: ‘We’re beginning to be co-authors of our destiny‘
- Alexis Tsipras: ‘We have won the battle, not the war’
- The Washington Post: Greece and Europe agree to a compromise, avoiding financial catastrophe
- Reuters: Tsipras declares victory as Greece dodges financial collapse
- The Economist: Europe agrees to extend the bail-out—after Greece drops nearly all its demands. Now Syriza must answer to its voters
- Wolfgang Schaeuble: “The Greeks certainly will have a difficult time to explain the deal to their voters,”
All in all, I would say that the general impression is that Greece lost, with Tsipras unable to properly perform a much expected kolotoumba, which is a pity:
The real Greek tragedy is that, with a bit more statesmanship, Mr Tsipras could have nudged Europe on to a happier path. The euro zone desperately needs a counter-narrative to its failed German-inspired policy of austerity. (The Economist, “Syriza’s scattergun”)
Reality is too hard. The German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble remarked:
Being in government is a rendez-vous with reality. Quite frequently it is not as nice as the dream, (Yahoo News, “Greece wins eurozone bailout deal with strict conditions”)
Oh, by the way:
Few believe that Greece’s debts, worth over 175% of GDP, will ever be repaid in full. (The Economist, “Syriza’s scattergun”)