Cyprus Mail
CM Regular ColumnistOpinion

Political clowns leading Greece down a precarious path

Minister of Finance of Greece Yanis Varoufakis

By Loucas Charalambous

I HAVE just been in Athens for two days which, I think, was more than enough time for anyone to conclude that the situation of the country is literally on the brink.

The question is so obvious that any person with basic common sense would pose it: where are the people governing Greece today leading it to? And are they leading the country in a specific direction as part of a plan or have they just left it to bleed to death because they are incompetent and irresponsible?

Regardless of the answer, one thing seems certain – the country is falling apart. If there is a plan it is an atrociously bad plan. It is crystal clear that the people governing Greece today are not very serious or reliable. Anyone can see that for two months now Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (who seemed a level-headed and responsible man when he visited Cyprus recently) and his finance minister Yanis Varoufakis believe they are fooling everyone.

With their erratic behaviour they have succeed in uniting all Greece’s EU partners against it – none of the partners believes or trusts them now. In a television debate last Sunday, the PASOK deputy Andreas Loverdos described Varoufakis as “a non-descript clown masquerading as a finance minister”.

It is a very harsh put-down, but it is very difficult to argue against Loverdos’ description. Then again, all European newspapers are making similarly disparaging comments about the man who regularly makes a fool of himself with the nonsense he utters.

The latest feats of the Tsipras government confirm that it does not know what it is doing. Domestically they are taking money from wherever they can in order to pay salaries and pensions. They have raided pension funds putting people’s pensions at risk.

At the same time they have carried on attacking other EU member-states that have been urging them to get serious and proceed with the necessary reforms. They have been asked to give the infamous list of reforms since last February. The government claims it has one, it is filibustering and proposing to set up cameras to photograph tourists that are not given receipts when they pay for something. Things are beyond ridiculous.

And as if this were not bad enough, Tsipras and co are now trying to involve Russia in a foolish game with the transparent aim of forcing the US to pressure Europe to give in to the demand to carry on funding Greece without any conditions.

There were celebrations while Tsipras was visiting Moscow, sparked by the announcement that Russia would supposedly give Greece three to five billion euro as an advance of the future profits from the gas pipeline that would be connected to the ‘Turkish Stream’. A denial was issued the next day by Moscow, spreading disappointment and bringing the celebrations to a premature end.

Here, the question is not only whether Tsipras feels so strong he believes he can play Russia against the EU via the US, but also whether Russia accepts being used as a ‘card’ in these naive political games.

These are games that do not serve the interests of the country. If anything, they could speed up the collapse.

Already, thanks to the reckless irresponsibility of the Tsipras government, big amounts of money are being withdrawn from Greek banks with deposits steadily falling. Total deposits in Greek banks are now about €142 billion, only three times more than those in the banks of Cyprus which has less than a tenth of the population.

This alone shows the precarious course being followed by Greece under the administration of its political clowns.

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