Syriza not even able to win symbolic victory but tops in rhetorical flourishes
Mario Draghim, president of the European Central Bank(ECB), told Greek officials in Brussels that the Greek government must allow technical representatives representing the European Commission, the ECB and the IMF to start work in Athens on Wednesday.
These three institutions are the Troika charged with overseeing Greece's compliance with the terms of the bailout agreement. The European Commission and the International Monetary Fund(IMF) had the same message. Originally the Greek government claimed it would not negotiate with the Troika and the group did not go to Athens as is usually the case. Instead of being referred to in most documents as the "Troika," the new term is the "institutions" even though the reality is exactly the same. The Greek government was able to move the meetings discussing the proposed reforms to Brussels rather than Athens. However technical personnel from the Troika insist they need to go to Athens to examine the government books. Greece has given in and agreed to that.
Jeroen Dijsselbloem, chair of the Eurogroup of finance ministers said:
Note that Dijsselbloem sneaks the term "troika" back into his description as if to remind the Greek government of the reality that they are still dependent on the Troika whatever the rhetoric from the ruling party Syriza. Dijsselbloem said the list of reforms presented by Greece last week was far from complete and not enough. He also complained that Greece was not moving quickly enough to implement what had been already agreed and wasted time arguing about where meetings should be held:
The problem for Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is that he is trying to salvage at least some of his campaign promises and get relief from some of the austerity policies imposed upon him by conditions of the Greek bailout. While there are some reforms that are at least agreed upon in principle by the two sides, such as tackling corruption, and tax evasion, even on these issues there are disagreements about some policies. However, with respect to some other issues such as privatization and humanitarian issues such as raising minimum wages, and rehiring government workers, the two sides disagree entirely.
Greece could face a cash crunch in a matter of weeks. Even to make a recent payment the government had to "borrow" from social security funds and issue more treasury bills. Greek sovereign debt is no longer eligible to be used as collateral in liquidity operations. The interest rate on treasury bills is higher than it would be if they could participate in the sovereign debt purchase operations to obtain funds.
While Greece has not even achieved a symbolic victory, since the Troika are going to Athens to examine the books, the Greek Finance Minister spins the situation to suit the demands of his constituency back home:
To give Varoufakis even a symbolic victory is just too costly as far as the Dijsselbloem is concerned. Hundreds of Greek officials would need to be flown to Brussels to do the work there. The troika cabal of technocrats will return to Athens even if Varoufakis will not call them that. He agreed that the technical people could start Wednesday. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble agreed that if the Greeks want it the troika could be renamed "the institutions":
The stock markets are declining in Europe and also North America. Gold has come off its lows in reaction to increased concern that Greece may default on its loans soon.
“The important thing is that we’re starting the technical work between the troika institutions and the Greek government. It needs to start to bear fruit.”
"We seem to be losing time now - since the last eurogroup little has been done in terms of future talks, in terms of implementation. We have spent the last two weeks discussing who will meet who, where, and in what configuration. It’s been a complete waste of time."
“The troika is a cabal of technocrats that used to arrive in Athens and enter the ministries with a kind of power play that smacked of a colonial attitude. That practice is finished. We shall endeavor to do whatever it takes to provide the institutions with whatever information they need.”Who does he think the people are that he just agreed could go to Athens to look at the books?
If Greece wants that, one can of course negotiate with the three institutions which we should no longer call the troika, but which is the troika,”The Troika smells just as sour by any other name. Notice that in the video appended only the term "institutions" is used not the Troika. This is a great semantic leap forward for Syriza.