Alexis Tsipras, the Greek Prime Minister, announced that Greece will not seek a third bailout when the extension of the present bailout runs out in four months time.
Tsipras, the leader of the major government party Syriza, made the announcement in an address to parliament that was on Greek TV. Tsipras has just four months to negotiate something to deal with the large payments coming due shortly after the four month period is ended. Tsipras, may simply have announced another name change as happened with the Troika. Tsipras and his finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, refused to extend the bailout originally and would not meet with the Troika of the European Commission, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund to renegotiate an extension of the bailout. Varoufakis did meet with the Eurogroup of finance ministers and the "institutions" that included the Troika were also involved and eventually reached a deal under the original terms so that in the end there was a four month extension of the original bailout agreement. The plan may be to remove the term "bailout" in any new agreement. The old wine will be put in new bottles but with new labels as well. Tsipras' remarks came just a few hours after German legislators had approved the four month extension of the present bailout but with some votes against the extension.Tsipras said:Tsipras claims that Greece has been successful in separating the loan agreement from the "disastrous" austerity conditions imposed by previous governments. That is far from the truth. Indeed the terms of the extension were based upon the existing agreements. As a Eurogroup statement put it:At a two-day meeting of the Syriza central committee, Tsipras said that Syriza had won the battle for an extension of the loan agreement even though the party sold out on most of its key commitments during the election campaign and did not actually manage to forge a new agreement outside the original agreement.Tsipras noted that many forces were against the new government:Tsipras singled out Spain and Portugal as countries opposing Greece, since both countries worry that any gains by Greece could encourage anti-austerity forces in their own countries. Spain in particular faces upcoming elections with the anti-austerity party Podemos growing in strength. Tsipras claims:
“The bailout agreements are over, both in form and in essence. Some people are betting on a third bailout in July … but we will disappoint them.”Some leftist groups in Greece such as the Greek Communist Party oppose the Brussels agreement, so Syriza must describe their policy in a positive fashion and as being a replacement for the hated austerity conditions of the original bailout deal. Any new deal in July must also have a positive new description even though it will be very much like other bailouts and will be described as such by the Eurogroup.
The Eurogroup notes, in the framework of the existing arrangement, the request from the Greek authorities for an extension of the Master Financial Assistance Facility Agreement (MFFA), which is underpinned by a set of commitments. The purpose of the extension is the successful completion of the review on the basis of the conditions in the current arrangement, making best use of the given flexibility which will be considered jointly with the Greek authorities and the institutions. This extension would also bridge the time for discussions on a possible follow-up arrangement between the Eurogroup, the institutions and Greece.The MFFA is the original bail out plan "underpinned by a set of commitments" which would include the austerity reforms. Interestingly, the Eurogroup statement already refers to a "possible follow-up arrangement" rather than a bailout. The best that Tsipras can take from this is that the "given flexibility" might be employed to change some conditions but only with the agreement of the EU group.
"We joined the battle in Europe with every step undermined. The most aggressive European conservative forces, in cooperation with the (ex-Premier Antonis) Samaras government, had sprung up a trap to derail us before we had even governed.They had everything set up to shipwreck us ... and the country."
"We found opposing us an axis of powers ... led by the governments of Spain and Portugal which for obvious political reasons attempted to lead the entire negotiations to the brink,Their plan was and is to wear down, topple or bring our government to unconditional surrender before our work begins to bear fruit and before the Greek example affects other countries. And mainly before the elections in Spain."Greece did come close to what was an unconditional surrender. However, when it comes to politics, rhetoric often trumps reality.