When Alexis Tsipras was elected Prime Minister of Greece on 25 January 2015, he had an excellent opportunity. Being a completely new face in politics, having the support of the Greek society and promising to tackle tax-evasion and corruption, he could immediately proceed with a reform agenda in co-operation with the EU and the IMF. Instead of doing so, he failed to acknowledge the real problem of the economy, he caused anger to his partners – especially with the referendum decision – and he showed that he was steadily putting his party’s interest above the national one. More importantly he brought Greece to the brink of collapse with banks closed and liquidity finishing.
Mr Tsipras has now a difficult dilemma. He either has to propose and accept a difficult bailout programme for the next years or lead Greece to its national currency. The creditors of Greece are not bluffing as former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis had wrongly estimated. The ‘Grexit’ scenario is on the table. The country might be even obliged to withdraw from the EU. This this what the Lisbon Treaty stipulates for a country which does not want to participate in the eurosystem. That is because an EU Summit of all 28 member-states will take place on Sunday. This summit will decide the European future of Greece.
Mr Tsipras has already made several mistakes. The rejection of previous packages for an agreement along with his insistence to ignore the EU modus operandi and consider democracy an exclusive privilege of Greece constitute remarkable examples. But this is not the right moment to look at the past and analyse wrong tactics. The Greek Prime Minister has a last opportunity to submit a reliable set of reforms and save the country. His decision will affect the current generation as well as future ones.
The internal reactions within the SY.RIZ.A party prevent Tsipras from making an agreement with the country’s creditors. What matters more, however, is what the country needs and not what some MPs want. Even a bad rescue package will give time to Greece to finally breathe, solve its problems in the medium-term and possibly achieve improvements of terms agreed at a later stage. Structural reforms will be better implemented inside the eurozone than outside. Foreign countries such as China and the US will be prepared to invest more in a stable eurozone environment. The stability of the economy will be subsequently guaranteed.
There is only one which has the final word. And this is Alexis Tsipras. History will judge him.
George N. Tzogopoulos
This article is also published on Xinhua