Greeks Bearing Debts
Greece Begins to Buckle

Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis may still be publicly saying “No, no, no” to concessions to his country’s creditors, but the actions of Athens speak louder than his words: the Greek government is taking decisive steps to sell off the Port of Piraeus and lease fourteen airports. Ekathimerini:

The Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund, which sells real estate, infrastructure and other government holdings, will send on Wednesday a revised tender offer to investors, including China Cosco Holding Co, to solicit bids for a stake in the Piraeus Port Authority SA, according to the people who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public. […]

The decision to sell the stakes suggests that left-wing Syriza government is abandoning an earlier pledge to its electorate to block such privatizations amid efforts to secure further funding from international creditors as part of a 240 billion euro bailout.

That decision comes amid mounting public unrest. This week’s delay in disbursing pension payments resulted in bank runs. Pensioners even burst into a fund board meeting to demand that no money be transferred to the central government, while Varoufakis himself was violently confronted recently by anarchists in an Athenian restaurant.

As the Greek people look more closely at where things are headed, the government’s position has eroded. A bankrupt government cannot pay pensions or wages, nor can a banking system cut off from European help protect deposits. Most of the Greeks who voted for this government seem to have done so out of a romantic nationalist rebellion against what was seen as foreign-caused austerity. They also seem to have believed that a tough government could get a better deal by threatening the Eurozone with a Grexit. But Greek voters overestimated the strength of Greece’s position, and more and more of them want to throw in the cards as the Eurozone hangs tough. We’ll see, but from Brussels it must look as if the smart thing to do is to keep up the pressure on the Greeks.

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