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Greeks Bearing Debts
At Riga, the Greece Crisis Gets Personal

Impatience with Greece at the EU meeting of finance ministers in Riga boiled over today, with criticism of Greek leaders sounding distinctly personal. “Irresponsible”, a “time-waster”, “gambler” and “amateur” were some of the words used to describe Greek Finance Minister Yanous Varoufakis by his colleagues. The meeting, widely expected to yield little in terms of measurable progress towards reforms that could unlock the next tranche of EU bailout funds, follows Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ failed attempt yesterday to strike a political deal with Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande at the sidelines of the EU emergency summit on migration. More, via Ekathimerini

Going into the talks, the 19-nation bloc’s finance ministers voiced their frustration over Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s attempt to bypass their veto on financial aid with an appeal to Angela Merkel.

“I demand very urgently that we get results on the table,” Austrian Finance Minister Hans Joerg Schelling said before sitting down for talks. “If you follow the media of the past days you hear time and again that ‘Tsipras says’ and ‘Tsipras thinks’, so apparently this has been moved to leaders’ level.”

The chairman of the group of European finance ministers issued a furious statement today, saying that €7.2 billion in frozen bailout funds wouldn’t be unfrozen after June as planned, and that creditors wouldn’t discuss longterm funding until Greece agrees to a full reform plan.

Meanwhile, Greece is still perilously short on the cash it needs to have in hand almost immediately. Reports from had indicated that Athens had managed to scrape together enough cash to make its payments to both international creditors and government employees and pensioners through the end of May. However, at least one story today suggested that Athens’ efforts at forcing municipalities to contribute cash to the government’s coffers were coming up way short—only €300 to €400 million, which is significantly less than the €1.5 billion required for Greece to muddle through yet another month.

Greece continues to stall on reforms, kicking the can down the road in order to keep the status quo going just a little bit longer. But the kicks are getting weaker and weaker—and time is running out.

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  • George Gamble

    The problem for the EU is that Greece realizes they have no hope even if they continue the process of borrowing more money and going even deeper into debt simply to insure the wholeness of European banks debts. The irony is that if the Greek govt gets a bailout from Russia and then proceeds to pay their debts, the money will simply go from Russia, to Greece, to the IMF, to the Ukraine and then back to Russia. At some point this foolishness has to stop and better now rather than later. There is a world of pain coming to Europe, to Greece and likely to the whole world as people start to realize that these government debts are unsustainable and will do nothing but crush future generations. Greece is just the proverbial canary in the coalmine.

    • Kevin

      I wonder to what extent this is a division between political-financial systems organized along Anglo-Dutch lines and those organized along a more sovereignist approach. What the Dutch and English learned in the late 17th c was that a political system which heavily represented creditor interests allowed them to borrow huge sums at low rates because creditors felt assured of getting their money back (due to their strong representation in parliament, etc.). Systems which excluded creditors from political power and instead emphasized state sovereignty and allowed for the repudiation (or write down) of debt; creditors insecurity meant they demanded much higher interest rates.

  • Pete

    The sooner the EU kicks these deadbeat out, the better.

    If not, other radicals in Spain, Italy, etc. will try to run out on their debts, too.

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