A bomb exploded earlier today in the Greek political scene after Reuter’s made a revelation about how Greece’s caretaker PM Lucas Papadimos called Barroso and asked him to make a strong statement about Greece leaving the eurozone. Reuters claims that Barroso had never intended to make such a strong statement. He did so only because he got a call from Greece’s caretaker Prime Minister Lucas Papademos asking him to, a Commission official said.
The Actual Incident
A couple of weeks ago, in an interview with Italian television, President of the European Commission Barroso, was asked what he thought of Alexis Tsipras’ plans to trash the bailout agreement.
“Look,” he said, “if a member of a club does not respect the rules, it’s better that it leaves the club, and this is true for any organization or institution or any project.”
Even though he did not refer to Greece, everyone knew it was Greece he was talking about and he made it look as if a Greek exit from the euro was drawing closer and closer. Greeks were, for once, more outraged with EU and Barroso was heavily criticized by the Greek media. For Greeks, Baroso was the “bad “guy, the foreigner who threatened them that he will take them out of the eurozone, the guy who blackmailed Greek politicians that if they don’t do as he said, Greece would suffer the consequences. Yet as it turns out, it wasn’t Barroso’s idea to blackmail Greeks. It was the Greek PM himself. Frustrated at the failing efforts to form a coalition after the May 6 election, Papademos wanted Barroso to say something strong in the hope it might wake Greece’s political leaders up.
Projecting the Europeans as monsters, and the reforms as measures that are only being imposed because the foreigners force us, is Greek politicians’ favorite game for the past two and a half years.
“It wasn΄t Barroso΄s initiative. It was a direct request,” said the Commission official, adding with a degree of understatement, “It didn΄t work.”
Talking to the newspaper To Vima, Papademos denied the report. “I haven΄t asked anyone to make any statement, nor talked to anybody those days. Some want to create a problem.”
After the Reuter’s report became known, Alexis Tsipras, Greece’s left SYRIZA’s leader attacked Papademos and stated that the real danger for Greece doesn’t come from abroad but from the domestic political scene. Tsipras is partly right. Greece’s current tragedy was caused by its politicians. But Tsipras himself is part of this system. He may not have been involved in scandals but his populistic anti-austerity agenda doesn’t present an alternative to the current loan agreement — or his plans for restoring Greece to growth while keeping it in the eurozone. One thing is for sure: crisis-hit Greeks simply do not know who and what to believe anymore.