The Greek people voted “No” on Sunday, but Greece’s then Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis clarified yesterday: “’NO’ means YES to a democratic Europe!” Soon afterwards he resigned from his post as Minister of Finance and left us wondering about what his and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ agenda has been all along. For me the questions are whether Tsipras and Co. who call themselves “Marxists” are naïve or calculated and whether this really makes a difference regarding the final outcome. Tsipras wants to “get back to the negotiation table” now and Varoufakis stated: “We will be positive towards the IMF and the European Commission” and “this time we will try to cooperate with our partners and be positive.” “This time” – What is that supposed to mean? Does Varoufakis admit that he has not been interested in finding a solution before? And if so, why? What is the agenda behind this little and very risky game the Greek government seems to enjoy playing so much? They should know that Greece’s European creditors cannot possibly give in to Tsipras new demands in light of other Eurozone countries, namely Spain with its left-wing party “Podemos” as well as Portugal and Italy, whose banks’ shares fell to their lowest value in four years last week already. This would increase the risk that these countries might try to renegotiate their bailout terms, if they saw Greece being successful with it.
But what does the Greek government actually want apart from a debt cut? Euro zone finance ministers say they “expect to hear new proposals for credit from Greece” today and it is still not clear whether Tsipras can and even wants to deliver on that. However, he should know that the European Central Bank will not be able to transfer any more payments to Greece on Friday and the PM does not seem to see the severity of the official national insolvency to which this leads. If an agreement is still not found by then, the possibility of Greece needing to leave the single currency becomes almost inevitable, which appears to be part of Tsipras’ “plan”, if there even is one, even though the Greek people are strongly against leaving the Euro. Meanwhile Tsipras called Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday and raises more questions about what kind of “communist” form of government and state he eventually wants to achieve for Greece and with whom. If “’NO’ means YES to a democratic Europe”, does that mean a democratic Europe with or without Greece? Finally the BBC has also raised the question whether this crisis after the Greek referendum outcome helps the NO campaign for the upcoming UK referendum on EU membership. In my opinion the Greek No vote has first and foremost been a rejection of the political establishment and if this establishment is leading the NO campaign in the UK, the YES campaign can only benefit from it.
By Bettina Wolff (President of YEM UK)