So what happened yesterday at the Eurogroup meeting that ended in breakdown of talks,frozen faces on both sides, and media titles like “Crash”, “Grexit” and horror scenarios of the kind? It’s difficult to get the correct information together if you’re not there, yet I give it a try based on Greek and international correspondents in Brussels, “anonymous EU commission officials”, the statements of Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and deputy Finance Minister Eykleidis Tsakalotos who was present at the meeting.
FinMin Varoufakis revealed to the media that prior to the Eurogroup meeting EU Monetary Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici gave him a draft that he “would be happy to sign.”
In a message uploaded on his Facebook page late on Monday, Tsakalotos mentioned that Moscovici’s draft was “a compromise deal agreed to by Draghi, Lagarde and Moscovici.”
That is that Greece’s official lenders and bailout program supervisors, the Troika of European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank, had agreed on a compromise solution that offered something conciliatory to Greeks. That is “recognition of the humanitarian crisis, an 4-mnoth extension with an intermediate program, technical assistance by the EU.”
Short after this draft and still prior to Eurogroup meeting, Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem presented to Varoufakis another draft, a totally different draft that not only it included “program extension” and “specific reforms” that should be done by the Greek side. It also mentioned “some flexibility”, a phrase that was much to vague and dangerous for the Greeks.
The day after… handshake: Dijsselbloem – Varoufakis at ECOFIN
What had happened? Tsakalotos writes that Moscovici’s draft
“was sunk by Dijsselbloem presumably on German pressure.”
Fact is that the drafts were prepared before the Eurogroup by top officials, like Dijsselbloem and Moscovici.
The first question that arises here is: what do the eurozone finance ministers do during the eurogroup meetings? Do they have a say in forming eurozone policies? Or do they just sit there and get paid to be bored and lightly dozed and occasionally agree on what top of EZ officials dictate in the short intervals they are awake?
The eventσ yesterday bring a myth to collapse: that during the eurogroup meetings, discussions and debates and negotiations take place. Apparently, they do not. Everything is settled in advance by the head of Eurgoroup “presumably under German pressure,” and it’s a “take it or leave it” blackmail.
So Greece, or any other country in similar situation, has no chance to negotiate – how much more to win – a game that has been “fixed” in the Euro playground of deception and double-faced officials in roles of “good cop, bad cop.”
How comes that Moscovici and Dijsselbloem present two different drafts? Is Europe divided on Greece?
During the ECOFIN meeting on Tuesday morning, Pierre Moscovici dismissed such claim. “The draft he presented to Varoufakis does not show that European institutions are divided on Greece,” Moscovici claimed towards journalists.
“There should be a room for flexibility, space for politics, but we all need to understand what the process is. The European Commission contributes to the teamwork of the Eurogroup. There is not a document or another document. There are contributions to a global agreement,” Moscovici added in an attempt to pick up the pieces of his what it seems hurt ego. He refrained from explaining the grave gap between the two drafts – or even why did he present his draft to Varoufakis, since it was “just some personal thoughts,” as Greek media report form Brussels quoting EU officials?
And he will never do so. Neither Dijsselbloem felt the need to give any explanation.
This morning, the German press attacked Varoufakis in one voice, describing him as:
“almost shameless,” bad crisis-manager”, “no serious negotiator with no idea of markets and politics”, “unreasonable”, “ill-mannered”. (Deutsche Welle)
The fury of the German media may indirectly verify the rumors that the German ambassador asked PM Alexis Tsipras to replace the Finance Minister.
Αccording to Greek media, German ambassador in Athens allegedly expressed this request to a Greek minister after last week’s Eurogroup. Merkel’s coalition partner, SPD asked the same: that Tsipras replaces Varoufakis. News coming from France, claim that is not fond of the Greek FinMin either.
I dare assume, that Varoufakis’ revelations about the Moscovici draft last night, must have literally shocked the Eurogroup members who are used to the holy secrecy of their close fraternity, euro priesthood and dirty little games.
But this new Greek government is up to more transparency 🙂
Tsakalotos’s message on Facebook
Dijsselbloem’s draft – Rejected by Greece
Moscovici’s Final Draft
as posted by @PaulMason from UK Channel 4 on Twitter in the early morning hours of Tuesday.
PS No, there is no sign of any resignation from the top of Eurogroup or the EU Commission. Thanks for asking…
IMHO Greece is just the start. Cyprus next, then Spain, Portugal, Italy and maybe France and some of the Baltic countries. The EU cannot keep it to Greece alone, isolated, otherwise they would just remain intransigent and expell the Greeks anyway.
The EU are the ones bluffing, hoping that the anti-EU parties in several other European countries can be frightened and intimidated. The Greeks are doing it for the rest of the debtors in Europe. They (the Eurozone countries) are as usual thinking compromise, appeasement and stickng ther heads in the sand. Led and Governed by a cowardly and charlatan ‘elite’, still living the good life on taxpayers money. Limiting democratic, economic and social accountablity by kicking the can down the road.
Seems like the EU, etc are playing games and trying to discredit and have Varoufakis replaced. Maybe that was the objective all along. Seems to me that whole situation is like children (the EU) playing with dynamite and a lighter and risking it all by striking a flame with these actions. Eventually, Greece will realize it is in their best interest to not be a party to such games and what looks to be wishful thinking idiots of the EU. If I was Greece, I would say the hell with this and look for help from Russia and China, who have shown that they don’t act like children or passive-aggressive bullies when it comes to respecting a country and interactions between the same.
I agree entirely. Look to Russia as they do not act like passive aggressive when it comes to respecting a country. Unless of course that country is called Ukraine. Hasn’t been in the news much recently, easy to miss.
Do negotiations take place? Of course, not! Just last weekend Varoufakis said that experts were presently exploring common ground for discussions. Not a word about negotiations. If one can believe the media, not one written document has been presented by Greece to the Eurogroup as yet. Nada. Varoufakis had loudly promised to present a detailed plan at the first Eurogroup meeting. Presumably, he assumed that all Finance Ministers would have read the NYT where he had indeed presented something. Communicating with fellow Finance Ministers via the NYT does not seem to be the best way to accomplish something. What happened yesterday seems to be either a divide-and-conquer play by Varoufakis or a power struggle between EU Commission and Eurogroup (or a bit of both).
Enough with this nonsense that Greece had no paper. The meeting was rudely disbanded before Greece could present its paper. The only interest of those present was that Greece sign their paper. When Varoufakis and Tsakolatos rightly refused the meeting was called to a close. Please do your homework.
I appreciate your subtle hint about doing one’s homework. Thank you.
SYRIZA had published, prior to the election, a most interesting paper titeled “What a SYRIZA government will do” which I link below. The normal procedure for a new government would be to walk the other Finance Ministers through that paper and explain it in detail. That would have provided for excellent discussions at the very first meeting of the Eurogroup. I can’t be a 100% certain (even though I tried to do my homework) but I am not aware that this paper was ever presented, much less discussed. There have been subsequent changes to this paper which were presented to the NYT but, again, I am not aware that they were presented to the Eurogroup.
Please note that the general tenor of all Finance Ministers was (and still is, actually) that “we still don’t know exactly what the new Greek government plans to do”. That would suggest some insufficiency in providing information.
Since you are obviously an authority on determining what is nonsense and what not, I look forward to hearing your verdict whether my above clarification was nonsense.
I am not expert, but have done a little homework. You can download it from here if you like http://www.scrapsaturday.org/uploads/g/The Greek Saga 2015.pdf. It is an 18 page pdf file giving the verbatim transcripts of everything Varoufakis said in speeches, the “non-papers” presented by the Greek government, and the “statement” produced by both Moscovici and the snake in the grass Dijsselbloem.
<aybe the other finance ministers should try and stay awake during these presentations, have their ears cleaned out and get themselves checked for amnesia. There is plenty there for them to consider, most of all the expressed willingness of the Greek government to work with them over the next six months to hammer out an acceptable agreement. The obvious unwillingness to give this the time it needs to work out the detail speaks volumes about the attitude of the finance ministers towards these proposals. I actually somehow doubt it if they ever bothered to even glance over them. Their position is quite obvious, more of the same, whether it actually works or not is totally besides the point.
Please pay special attention to the very last bit
It is obvious that there was reason for them to go along with the Greek proposals and work on a “follow-up arrangement” as mentioned. Until perhaps Wolfie interfered…?
How many times did the EU ask the Greek kleptocracy for a detailed paper on how they would proceed since 1981? How many times did the Eurogroup, EU, ECB, EC ask the Greek kleptocracy for a detailed paper on how they would proceed since 1981?
Now that the kleptocracy, or the “pro European Force” as Samaras likes to refer to himself, has been kicked out of office and replaced by a government that has its priorities right and ,so far, does what it promised to do there is suddenly a need for a fully detailed, costed paper which must also be acceptable to the very same people who for 30+ years never bothered to ask any questions. And, this new government is given a week to produce this detailed paper, while being told that nothing will change anyway. “Rules are rules”, even if it is blatantly obvious to the dogs in the street that the rules don’t work.If 30+ years went by without any panic, why can’t another six months be granted on the basis that there now is a government clearly willing to do something, and showing every day that it actually does something instead of just talking about maybe doing something at some stage…
Why does the work hypocrites spring to mind when thinking about Dijsselbloem, Schaueble, Moscovici and all the others in the ivory tower called Brussels?
Pff, this complicated. But it looks to me that Greece didn’t pay their taxes for years, borrowed a lot of money to make up for that, lied to their fellow nations about this and are now hoping that they won’t have to repay the money they borrowed.
Syriza may have made a fatal mistake in supposing that anyone within the Eurozone outside of Greece cares very much or at all what may happen inside Greece, at least not if caring requires them to actually do anything, especially involving contributing money. So much for EU common values and solidarity! Germany in contrast is likely making a fatal mistake about how Europe within the Eurozone can be run. Grexit or some large scale default by Greece whilst nonetheless retaining the Euro may herald a second Lehman aftermath, apparent German calculations suggesting either would be bearable for non-Greeks also being likely wrong.