Athens must earn ” “European solidarity” “

Tsipras won with flying colours. But the new Premier must comply with international commitments and revive his Country

Thus Alexis Tsipras, following the decisive victory of his party Syriza, swore in. He did so in his own way: with no tie, bypassing the Bible and the Orthodox blessing, he took charge of Greece’s future striking an unconventional alliance with ANEL’s xenophobic right… The young neo-premier knows that he is hailed as the emblem of anti-austerity and presents himself as the advocate of peoples hit by recession and oppressed by the rigour and rules of Euro-land. In the past days Tsipras has emerged as the winner, but in all likelihood very few leaders would want to be in his shoes. Indeed, a great deal of work lies ahead of him, having to climb uphill, challenged by his constituency’s expectations, thwarted by the folds of the country’s huge public debt and by the deadlines linked to international commitments. Moreover, Tsipras cannot feign to have forgotten Europe’s extended hand when Greece, governed by Greeks, was on the brim of bankruptcy. The bailout funds sent to Athens by the much-hated Troika amount to 240 billion (to be paid at almost-zero interest rates in 40 years) sparing hunger and civil war to the Country. At the same time, no one, including Brussels, can deny that the austerity measures and the reforms (yet to be implemented) demanded to the Greek population, have brought suffering, unemployment, wages and pension cuts, less public services, coupled by a great deal of desperation. Now Tsipras will have to display all the energy he has – which he has already shown – coupled by courage and diplomacy. He is expected to fulfil his commitments, cutting indebtedness and deficit and carrying out reforms in the Country (in the realm of public administration, fiscal policies, welfare, education…) revitalizing economic competitiveness. In some areas he will have to do the opposite of what he promised during the election campaign, but he will surely convince his compatriots. This is what Europe expects, which includes EU institutions, the Central Bank, Member States’ governments, from Berlin to Paris, from Madrid to Rome, up to Dublin, London and the Nordic countries. The Eurogroup conveyed the message to Syriza’s leader; prime ministers inferred it between the lines of their telegrams congratulating him on his victory. There is openness to release the burden on Greece, interest rates can be modified and even the period to reimburse the loans could be extended, but there can be no cuts nor erasing of the debts Greece incurred in over the past years. For two reasons: first of all, because it would be a dangerous precedent; second – and most important – because it would mean that the citizens of other European creditor countries would have to dig into their own pockets. So the Greek premier has a narrow road ahead of him, which is nonetheless feasible. He will have to pack his luggage and tour European capitals before attending his first official meeting in Brussels, i.e. the European Council of February 12. He will seek to persuade his interlocutors with softer tones, with an accommodating approach, while -justly – pretending to be listened to and understood. Keeping Greece in the euro area and in the EU is a necessary, viable challenge. It’s good for Greece and for Europe as a whole. On the other hand, the latter is expected to show – on the basis of the principle of solidarity that it is founded on – that the EU is the home of all Europeans. Thus Tsipras could set out a major common goal for his Country. By embracing the first signs of economic recovery in Greece the crisis could be overcome, heading towards a common fresh start. It is necessary to leave behind all the fears – to the left and to the right – brandished during the election campaign. Now it’s the time for new common hope and recovered sense of responsibility. In this way Tsipras and Greece may discover numerous supporters across the corners of Europe. The journey of the EU could start anew also from Athens.

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