A more responsible Greece ” “and more solidarity in Europe

The announcement of the referendum of July 5 made the relations between Athens more extreme. It is necessary to find a meeting point

Can you launch yourself from an airplane without a parachute? No, or at least one should not. Alex Tsipras’ government referendum on the bailout accord proposed by international creditors called for July 5th gave the impression of an unprotected parachutist, which risks dragging with him a population afflicted by a years-long crisis. The facts are known. In 2009 the then socialist Premier revealed that the previous Conservative governments falsified financial statements to gain access to the Eurozone. A long period of internal political instability ensued and the government was taken over by the centre-right premier, leader of New Democracy, in office from 2012 until January 2015. In the new elections a plebiscite vote elected Syriza and its candidate Alexis Tsipras to guide the country. Tsipras based his success on the promise that he would stand up to the demands of creditors and of the European Union, which in the meantime, having established the reviled Troika, poured into the homes of Athens 240 billion in financial aids. But to the pressing demands for deep economic and social reforms to get public accounts back on track (public debt amounts to 177% of GDP), Tsipras answered – this is true – that his people had already suffered too much. “No more sacrifices, enough blackmail”. Athens’ reform proposals reassure its creditors – with whom agreements expired June 30 – and the EU seemed inadequate. Thus Tsipras attempted a last, unexpected move: “Let’s ask the Greek people what they think”. They will decide, with a referendum, whether to reply yes or no to Brussels’ requests. Then, after ‘runs’ to ATMs, he made an understandable albeit risky move: to close Athens’ banks and stock market for a week. Panic risked spreading across the city. At the same time bedlam broke out. French president François Hollande conveyed the thoughts of major EU countries, including Germany. “I deplore Athens’ decision, we were nearing an agreement”. Frau Merkel spoke from Berlin: “the euro is more than a currency. The failure of the euro is the failure of the EU”. In this framework, with world attention focused on the Acropolis, Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis kicked the ball in the European field: “The leaders of the EU are unable to adopt policy initiatives; European heads of government must act “; “We have already explained our position. They are fair and accompanied by significant concessions”. Concessions? – asked Angela Merkel and François Hollande, together with the President of the Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, that of the ECB Mario Draghi and Christine Lagarde, IMF director. In reality the Greek people are on their last legs, but it is equally true that in all these years Greece has been ruled by the Greeks. And it’s up to the Greek Parliament and government to provide plausible policy responses to the financial and social drift. Also because this instability originated in eurozone membership, strongly supported by Athens. And if you accept to be part of a “common home” and of a common currency, with well-defined rules, you must comply with these rules. It was recalled, perhaps with not very conciliatory tones, by Manfred Weber, German chairman of the People’s Party at the European Parliament: “All political leaders have said that the euro zone cannot be subjected to blackmail. Even a radical Government must accept that there are rules that must be respected. Developments are underway by the hour. Precisely on June 30 Juncker relaunched the proposal of an agreement. Tsipras showed some signs of attention. But each day after June 30 there could be an unexpected surprises. In the meantime, supporters of “yes” and “no” votes to the referendum confront each other in the streets. However, there is already a reflection to be drawn. The European construction is based on the twofold criteria of responsibility and solidarity (this was said also during last week’s EU Council as regards refugees and migration): none of the two can be missing. The first criteria today is especially in Greece’s hands. The second involves Europe as a whole. Beyond the topical events, these are fundamental aspects that will have to be jointly addressed and developed to continue building together.

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