La crisis griega se agravó luego de la decisión del gobierno Tsipras de abandonar la mesa de negociaciones en Brusselas y convocar un referéndum sobre el plan de rescate que estaba sobre esta mesa. El gobierno griego hizo dos solicitudes al mismo tiempo: a sus socios europeos que le concedan más tiempo, rompiendo la fecha fatal del 30 de junio en la que Grecia entraría en default y quiebre si no paga sus deudas; y a sus ciudadanos que vote en contra de la propuesta de sus socios europeos de cómo y bajo qué condiciones seguir financiando a Grecia. Unos ven esta actitud de Grecia como muestra de su dignidad nacional, otros lo ven como muestra que el gobierno de Tsipras sigue confundiendo la política con un juego de poker. Documentamos los diferentes puntos de vista. (Segunda Vuelta)
EU Commission President Juncker: ‘I Don’t Understand Tsipras’
Jean-Claude Juncker , the president of the European Commission at his office in Brussels, Belgium on 17.06.2015 by Wiktor Dabkowski
Entrevista conducida por Peter Müller, Michael Sauga y Cristoph Schult, 19 junio 2015 / SPIEGEL ONLINE
SPIEGEL: Mr. Juncker, we would like to speak with you about friendship.
Juncker: A vast topic. Go ahead.
SPIEGEL: It says in the dictionary that friendship is a relationship defined by mutual affection and trust. If you use that as a guide, would you describe Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras as a friend of yours?
Juncker: There are two types of friendship. The first is rooted in goodwill, of the kind I feel for Mr. Tsipras. The second — true friendship — is much rarer, because it must first overcome obstacles and grow.
SPIEGEL: You began referring to Tsipras as a friend soon after he took office. More recently, though, you have begun complaining that he is incorrectly depicting the offers you have made in Athens. Were your friendly overtures to him somewhat premature?
Juncker: No, my relationship to Mr. Tsipras is, for the time being, a friendship in accordance with the word’s first definition. Only later will it become clear if real friendship will grow out of that. I will, however, acknowledge that the trust I placed in him is not always returned in equal measure.
SPIEGEL: You have made concessions to Mr. Tsipras on several issues, but he is still accusing you and the other creditors of wanting to pillage Greece. Are you disappointed in him?
Juncker: One should never take personally the relationships between representatives and institutions. We are here to work for the people. On the other hand, politics cannot function without reliable personal relationships. With all due respect to the new Greek government, one has to point out that some of its representatives came into office without being adequately prepared for the tasks awaiting them.
SPIEGEL: The negotiations with the Greeks are making exceedingly slow progress, if any at all, despite the fact that the country’s bankruptcy is coming closer and closer. Is it still possible to prevent the country’s departure from the euro zone?
Juncker: We have to keep trying to do all we can to prevent a Grexit. You are right; we are running out of time. And some of the toxic rhetoric coming out of Athens doesn’t make it any easier to find a compromise. Mostly, though, I just ignore the rhetoric, because we have to make progress.
SPIEGEL: The Greeks seem to think they can get a better deal if they remain at the poker table.
Juncker: European politics is not a card game where there is a winner and a loser at the end. On the contrary: Either everyone wins, or everyone loses. That is why it is absolutely essential that the Greek government move as quickly as it can.
SPIEGEL: Many of your colleagues have accused you of essentially inviting the Greek government to shove its chips into the middle of the table. After all, at the very beginning of the negotiations, you categorically ruled out the possibility of a Grexit.
Juncker: Had I said at the beginning of the negotiations that a Grexit was an option, it would have unleashed a wave of speculation on the financial markets. Apparently, there are some in the Greek government who have misunderstood and believe that there is someone in Europe who can pull a rabbit out of the hat in the end. But that is not the case. I have warned Mr. Tsipras many times he shouldn’t depend on me being able to prevent a failure of the talks if that isn’t desired by the other side. We should do everything we can to prevent a Grexit, but to do so, both sides must exert themselves. In the end, I would prefer the rabbit to bear the Greek national colors.
SPIEGEL: Do you have the impression that Tsipras understands the stakes for his country?
Juncker: I have described for him in detail what an exit from the euro zone would mean for his country on the short-, medium- and long-term.
SPIEGEL: And that is?
Juncker: Greece has experienced deep cuts to its social safety net. The result has been an unacceptable humanitarian crisis. Every morning, many people in Athens or Thessaloniki are actually faced with the question as to how they are going to feed themselves that day. The problem, though, is that the crisis would only become worse in the case of a Grexit. On the other hand, there are people in Greece who are filthy rich. I have called upon Mr. Tsipras to raise taxes on wealth in his country. Shockingly, his response to my request was not as enthusiastic as I had expected.
SPIEGEL: For five years now, international creditors have been trying to stave off Greek insolvency with vast aid packages worth hundreds of billions of euros. But unemployment in the country remains at 25 percent and gross domestic product has plunged by a quarter. Don’t you have to admit that Europe’s attempts to save Greece have failed?
Juncker: You are failing to mention the successes we have achieved. Although Greece’s GDP has fallen dramatically, the government has presented a budget in which revenues are significantly higher than expenditures. I reject the idea that the Greeks are lying around doing nothing. Pensions have been slashed, salaries reduced and public spending reined in. Germans, in particular, have the impression that the Greeks have done nothing to free themselves from their plight. That impression is incorrect.
SPIEGEL: But the Greeks no longer want austerity. People hate the Troika and the government is cheered when it blasts the parameters laid down by the International Monetary Fund as “criminal.” How can the bailout project be continued on such a foundation?
Juncker: It bothers me that the Tsipras government acts as though we in the European Commission are austerity fanatics who are crushing the dignity of the Greek people underfoot. I am upset that the Greek government acts as though the Commission is seeking a higher sales tax on electricity, to mention one example. I have told Mr. Tsipras many times that I am open to other suggestions if they result in the same revenues. Instead of complaining about the Commission, Mr. Tsipras could one day tell Greeks that I have offered a €35 billion investment program for the years 2015 to 2020 to stimulate growth in his country. I haven’t heard anything about that.
SPIEGEL: Do you have an explanation?
Juncker: I don’t see myself as being in a position to psychoanalyze another European government. I sometimes even find it difficult to analyze myself. But jokes aside: I don’t believe the Greek government’s response has been sufficient. If I were the Greek prime minister, I would sell that as an achievement and say: I pushed through the €35 billion package in Brussels. I don’t understand Tsipras. In one of the positive moments during our negotiations, I once told him during a coffee break: If I had campaigned on your platform, I would have won 80 percent of the vote. But he only got 36 percent.
SPIEGEL: If Tsipras continues to reject additional spending cuts, he would only be doing what he promised to do during the campaign. Do you fault him for that?
Juncker: I, too, am of the opinion that, following an election, a politician should do what he or she promised before the vote. For that reason, politicians have to think carefully, before the election, whether they will be able to fulfill their campaign promises. European countries make up a community of destiny — one which only works if the members can depend on each other. Unfortunately, prior to taking over the government, Mr. Tsipras adopted positions, which, in part, are in conflict with the rules governing this union. That is why his campaign promises cannot be 100 percent implemented. Mr. Tsipras should have known that.
SPIEGEL: Do you understand why another friend of yours, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, now believes that a Grexit is the better alternative?
Juncker: I am not aware of any sentence uttered by Wolfgang Schäuble that would lead you to draw such a conclusion. The German finance minister is a devoted European who, in his person, unites both the past and the future. As such, everyone — and the Greeks in particular — would be well advised to listen closely to this man.
SPIEGEL: Schäuble is concerned that the case of Greece could send the wrong message. If creditors are too lenient and the Greek gamble is successful, other euro-zone member states could seek to emulate Athens’ chutzpah.
Juncker: That is a danger I see as well. I know that many, particularly in Germany, see me as a naive proponent of Greece. But I am very clear that solidarity and solidity belong together. While I have understanding for a temporary inability to adhere to the rules, we cannot have a situation where the one who breaks the rules is rewarded. That is why the Greek government must make clear that it is prepared to adhere to the rules.
SPIEGEL: Tsipras enjoys widespread support among the Greek populace, but at the same time, a clear majority of Greeks would like to remain part of the euro zone. Would it not make sense to ask the country’s voters if they are prepared to continue down the path of austerity?
Juncker: It is erroneous to believe that one can change the reality in all of Europe with a referendum or new elections in a single country. I have explained that to Mr. Tsipras on several occasions. No matter what happens in Athens, the make-up of parliaments in other member states — and in the German Bundestag as well — will remain exactly as it is.
SPIEGEL: Let’s assume for a moment that international creditors are successful in finding a last-minute compromise with Athens: Do you think Chancellor Angela Merkel would be able to convince German parliamentarians to back such a deal?
Juncker: If we are able to reach an understanding that is sustainable, and if it is reached in cooperation with the German government, then it would be Angela Merkel’s task to convince the German Bundestag of its merits — and I am absolutely convinced that she would be successful.
SPIEGEL: With all due respect to your optimism, the mood is quite different among Merkel’s party allies. The parliamentarians have lost all desire to allow the Greek government to continue leading them around by the nose.
Juncker: I don’t believe that the Greeks would be able to lead German parliamentarians or the Commission president around by their noses.
SPIEGEL: The chancellor has said that, if Greek politicians would like to see who has the strongest nerves, they are welcome to do so.
Juncker: Ms. Merkel is right. But we aren’t just talking here about who has the better nerves. We are talking about the Greek people and particularly about those who find themselves in a very difficult situation.
SPIEGEL: Membership in the euro zone was long considered to be irreversible. Now, there is a distinct possibility that a country might leave the common currency area. What does that mean for Europe’s future?
Juncker: You are asking a theoretical question that I don’t want to consider. I want to prevent Greece’s exit. And we have come a long way. Think back to the year 2010, when the difficulties began. At the time, the danger was enormous that the contagion could spread to other countries. Had Greece left the euro then, it could very well have turned into a conflagration for the entire euro zone. Today, a Grexit would still have significant consequences, but the fear that it could cause the exit of additional member states has waned considerably. Nevertheless, the entire world would get the impression that the make-up of the euro zone can be changed. We have to avoid this impression.
SPIEGEL: Greece isn’t the only country that is making it difficult for you to keep the European community together. The British government would like to soon hold a referendum as to whether the country should remain a part of the EU or not. How great is the danger that Britain leaves the EU?
Juncker: We need a fair deal. The British know that Great Britain isn’t the only country with red lines, but that other member states have them too. Here in Brussels, we aren’t manic cheerleaders for Europe and the British are an intelligent people. We will find an agreement that is such that our friends in the United Kingdom will feel a desire to remain a lasting member of the European Union.
SPIEGEL: Yet the British prime minister would like to make some fundamental changes. He would like to remove the phrase “ever-closer union” from the preamble of the Lisbon Treaty, for example. What is your response?
Juncker: Why shouldn’t some in Europe go faster than the others? If the British don’t want to be part of this move, then we can make it possible for them, but in such a way that it doesn’t prevent others from going forward. That has long been the case with the currency union. Those who want to bind themselves closer together should be given the possibility to do so.
SPIEGEL: The presidents of Europe’s most important institutions have also been thinking of how the EU should develop. What are your suggestions?
Juncker: On the basis of the current treaties, the economic and monetary union is not yet complete. The entire world now wants to know from us how we intend to change this state of affairs. I, for example, believe that the euro zone could use a larger dose of parliamentary involvement, from both the European Parliament and from national parliaments. I work closely together with (European Parliament President) Martin Schulz. When it comes to smaller issues relating to party politics, we have different points of view. But when it comes to larger questions, we are partners and allies. We propose moving ahead in stages. Initially, the focus should be on what we can do within current rules to enhance our stability and to make improvements. Then we have to examine what we can achieve in the mid- and long-terms were we to make changes to European treaties. That, though, is not a pressing question.
SPIEGEL: Given the crisis in Greece, don’t you think such a step is necessary?
Juncker: Yes. Especially because of the crisis with Greece, we have to tell the world and ourselves where we are headed. The people of Europe are also becoming more skeptical and the gap between them and the European elite is widening. You would have to be blind not to see that. That is why Brussels cannot continue to focus on trivialities and burden people with regulations that can often be better handled on a local level. Europe has to show that it is able to take action on the larger, urgent problems: in foreign policy, with the immigration problems, with the economic challenges of the digital era. The European debate can no longer be limited to shower heads and olive-oil jugs.
SPIEGEL: Mr. Juncker, thank you for this interview!
Explaining the Greek Debt Crisis and What It Means for the Eurozone
A statue of the goddess Athena in Athens. Greece is struggling to avert bankruptcy. Credit Aris Messinis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Liz Alderman, 8 abirl 2015 / THE NEW YORK TIMES
Updated: June 29
Greece, the weak link in the eurozone, is inching closer to defaulting on its debt. The country has been in a long standoff with its European creditors on the terms of a multibillion-dollar bailout. If the country goes bankrupt or decides to leave the 19-nation eurozone, the situation could create instability in the region and reverberate around the globe.
What’s the latest?
Banks and markets throughout the country are closed until next week, after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras interrupted last-ditch debt negotiations early Saturday with the announcement that he was calling a referendum for July 5 on whether to accept the tough terms offered by international creditors. O
On Sunday, the European Central Bank said it would not expand the emergency loan program that has been propping up Greek banks in recent weeks. But at the same time, the bank did not cut off support entirely, giving the Greek government some extra flexibility in the coming days.
How did Greece get to this point?
Greece became the epicenter of Europe’s debt crisis after Wall Street imploded in 2008. With global financial markets still reeling, Greece announced in October 2009 that it had been understating its deficit figures for years, raising alarms about the soundness of Greek finances.
Suddenly, Greece was shut out from borrowing in the financial markets. By the spring of 2010, it was veering toward bankruptcy, which threatened to set off a new financial crisis.
To avert calamity, the so-called troika — the I.M.F., the European Central Bank and the European Commission — issued the first of two international bailouts for Greece, which would eventually total more than 240 billion euros, or about $264 billion at today’s exchange rates.
The bailouts came with conditions. Lenders imposed harsh austerity terms, requiring deep budget cuts and steep tax increases. They also required Greece to overhaul its economy by streamlining the government, ending tax evasion and making Greece an easier place to do business.
If Greece has received billions in bailouts, why is there still a crisis?
The money was supposed to buy Greece time to stabilize its finances and quell market fears that the euro union itself could break up. While it has helped, Greece’s economic problems haven’t gone away. The economy has shrunk by a quarter in five years, and unemployment is above 25 percent.
The bailout money mainly goes toward paying off Greece’s international loans, rather than making its way into the economy. And the government still has a staggering debt load that it cannot begin to pay down unless a recovery takes hold.
Many economists, and many Greeks, blame the austerity measures for much of the country’s continuing problems. The leftist Syriza party rode to power this year promising to renegotiate the bailout; Mr. Tsipras said that austerity had created a “humanitarian crisis” in Greece.
But the country’s exasperated creditors, especially Germany, blame Athens for failing to conduct the economic overhauls required under its bailout. They don’t want to change the rules for Greece.
As the debate rages, the only thing everyone agrees on is that Greece is yet again running out of money — and fast.
Why do Greece and Europe disagree?
With Greece nearly bankrupt, the government struck a deal with European officials on Feb. 20 to extend the bailout program for at least four months and give Athens €7 billion in funds, if Mr. Tsipras made structural changes. But creditors say the plans Greece has submitted fall short, and they accuse Mr. Tsipras of trying to roll back the austerity measures unilaterally.
Greece needs a deal to keep paying its creditors and to finance government operations. Athens seems to be betting that its creditors will want to reach a compromise to avoid the huge unknowns that could arise if Greece defaults or possibly leaves the euro.
If things are so bad, shouldn’t Greece just leave the eurozone?
At the height of the debt crisis a few years ago, many experts worried that Greece’s problems would spill over into the rest of the world. If Greece defaulted on its debt and exited the eurozone, it could create global financial shocks bigger than the collapse of Lehman Brothers.
Some people argue that if Greece were to leave the currency union now, it wouldn’t be such a catastrophe. Europe has put up safeguards to limit the financial contagion, in an effort to keep the problems from spreading to other countries. Greece, just a tiny part of the eurozone economy, could regain financial autonomy with its own economy, these people contend — and the eurozone would actually be better off without a country that seems to constantly need its neighbors’ support.
Others say that’s too simplistic a view. Despite the frustration of endless negotiations, European political leaders see a united Europe as an imperative. At the same time, they still haven’t fixed some of the biggest shortcomings of the eurozone’s structure by creating a more federal-style system of transferring money as needed among members — the way the United States does among its various states. They also worry that if Greece were to default and leave the eurozone, it could ignite turmoil in the financial markets that might stall the budding recovery in Europe and impede the United States’ rebound.
What happens next?
That’s the billion-euro question.
Mr. Tsipras has said he doesn’t want to take Greece out of the euro currency union. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, Europe’s paymaster, says the eurozone must stay together — but not at any cost.
Right now, Greece must work out a deal to get some of the €7 billion to meet looming debt payments. It also has billions more in additional payments coming due later this year to the I.M.F. and the European Central Bank. As a result, Greece might need to try securing yet another multibillion-euro bailout package — its third since 2010.
Next week’s referendum could test whether Greek citizens want to stay in the eurozone. New elections could also be held if Greece’s financial situation worsens. Or Greece could test the willingness of Russia or China to help should talks with Europe falter.
The heavy betting is that Greece and Europe will find a way to muddle through the mess yet again — even if many people might be quietly drawing up emergency plans.
El fin de semana en que Syriza suicidó a Grecia.
Alexis Tsipras, primer ministro de Grecia, con Pablo Iglesias, secretario general de PODEMOS
Juan Ramón Rallo, 28 JUNIO 2015 / LIBRE MERCADO
Apenas medio año después de llegar al poder, Syriza ya ha abocado a Grecia a un corralito. Lo ha logrado especialmente en las últimas 48 horas, cuando Tsipras decidió levantarse de la mesa de negociaciones y convocar unilateralmente un referéndum aconsejando a los griegos que rechacen el acuerdo con la Troika. Lo hizo con el apoyo de su partido, el de los reaccionarios de Anel y el de los neonazis de Amanecer Dorado. El social-populista y sus socios parlamentarios no querían recortar el gasto (tampoco el militar) ni subir impuestos. Querían, simplemente, seguir haciendo aquello que ha caracterizado a Grecia durante las últimas décadas: vivir de prestado para no pagar. Para ello, nada mejor que quemar los barcos adoptando una postura de fuerza: o nos dais lo que pedimos, o se terminan las negociaciones con el aval del pueblo soberano.
A la hora de la verdad, sin embargo, los ciudadanos griegos no se mostraron demasiado ilusionados con ese festín democrático del referéndum: desde el viernes por la noche, comenzaron a agolparse ante bancos, gasolineras y supermercados para hacer acopio de dinero y bienes básicos en previsión de un corralito que deje desabastecido el país. A la postre, en la actualidad la banca helena pende del hilo del BCE: es Draghi quien, comprometiendo imprudentemente el dinero de todos los europeos, la está manteniendo con vida desde que en enero los griegos comenzaran a sacar su dinero del país para ponerlo a mejor recaudo, esto es, fuera de las garras populistas de Syriza.
Si el BCE se mantenía firme ante el órdago de Tsipras, se acababa el juego para el populismo syriziano. Pero Varoufakis, ese magnífico postureador que siempre ha estado susurrando a los oídos de Tsipras, estaba convencido de que las instituciones comunitarias terminarían cediendo: desde hace años viene repitiendo insistentemente que la UE no puede permitirse dejar caer a Grecia porque eso supondría el fin del euro. Pero esta vez, y al menos hasta el momento, parece que Varoufakis ha metido la pata hasta el fondo. A primera hora de este domingo, el BCE vio el órdago que le lanzaron desde Atenas: si bien no tenía intención de retirar el crédito concedido hasta la fecha a la banca griega, tampoco iba a seguir incrementándolo indefinidamente. Y eso, en una sociedad que sigue retirando masivamente su dinero de los bancos, equivale a dejarlos caer.
A mediodía, Varoufakis seguía en modo negación y, haciendo gala de esa transparencia democrática tan característica de la nueva política, prometía a sus ciudadanos que en ningún caso habría controles de capitales. Dicho y hecho: apenas unas horas después, Tsipras comparecía en televisión para anunciar un corralito que, según nos informan, pretende prolongarse hasta la celebración del referéndum el próximo domingo. Hasta entonces, los ahorros de los griegos permanecerán congelados en los bancos, no sea que más adelante el gobierno necesite confiscarlos para poder sufragar sus gastos unos meses más.
Pero el problema ya no es el referéndum: es que las negociaciones con los acreedores se han roto y no será fácil recomponerlas. Syriza no sólo pide una reestructuración de la deuda actual, sino que el resto de Europa le sigamos prestando más dinero (mucho más dinero): ¿y cómo prestar más dinero a largo plazo a una casta y neocasta políticas que no han dejado de hacer méritos para estafar a sus ciudadanos y al conjunto de los europeos? Difícil rehacer con Syriza la baraja que Syriza ha roto: del mismo modo que Papandreu fue un cadáver político el día en que convocó el referéndum, no queda claro cómo Tsipras puede alcanzar un acuerdo creíble con sus acreedores después de haber dado la espantá con nocturnidad y alevosía. ¿Qué sentido tiene aprobar una nueva quita en la deuda griega y seguir extendiéndoles financiación en condiciones privilegiadas cuando ningún político griego quiere adoptar las medidas necesarias como para poder devolver esa nueva deuda en algún momento futuro? ¿Cómo seguir dándoles cuerda, a costa de los contribuyentes europeos, cuando todos –desde Nueva Democracia a Syriza, pasando por el Pasok– han acreditado mala fe, tacticismo, fraude generalizado y voluntad de seguir viviendo a expensas de los europeos?
No, Syriza acaba de suicidar a Grecia para poder seguir gastando aquello que no tienen (televisión pública griega o gasto militar desbocado incluidos): rotas las negociaciones, finiquitada la financiación extraordinaria del BCE, a corto plazo sólo queda el corralito. A medio plazo, la salida del euro y el regreso a la dracma para poder imprimir moneda a placer del político castuzo de turno: es decir, el robo indisimulado a su población depreciando el valor internacional de su patrimonio. El empecinamiento en mantener un Estado sobredimensionado ha terminado por arruinar a los ahorradores griegos de buena fe.
Las implicaciones para el conjunto de la Eurozona de este paso en falso griego todavía son inciertas. En principio, el que un país que incumple sistemáticamente las normas que hacen viable el euro abandone la divisa común debería reforzar la credibilidad de aquéllas: “O es un socio fiable, o mejor se marcha”. Pero, roto el tabú de que un país abandone el euro, la incertidumbre volverá a sobrevolar la Eurozona: si Syriza en seis meses ha impuesto un corralito en Grecia, ¿quién será el siguiente? ¿Acaso no puede reproducirse esto mismo en Italia con el Movimiento Cinco Estrella, en Francia con el Frente Nacional o en España con Podemos? Una vez las dudas se extiendan a los mercados sobre la continuidad del euro como divisa, el miedo puede regresar entre los inversores nacionales e internacionales, dando al traste con cualquier perspectiva de recuperación. Ese es el arma con el que siempre ha jugado Varoufakis: la Troika no iba a consentir la salida de Grecia del euro porque provocaría inmediatamente su ruptura por Italia, España y Francia.
Pero, más allá de las consecuencias a medio plazo para Grecia y para España, sí deberíamos aprender ciertas lecciones básicas del desastre griego. Primero, no podemos gastar indefinidamente aquello que no tenemos: la acumulación indefinida de deuda no es sostenible, ni siquiera falseando las deudas (tal como hizo Nueva Democracia en colaboración con Goldman Sachs). Segundo, una vez se ha sobredimensionado el Estado hasta límites insostenibles, no se puede huir hacia adelante confiando en que desde fuera nos van a rescatar (tal como hizo el Pasok). Tercero, la neocasta no es la respuesta a los problemas generados por la casta: reclamar más gasto, más impuestos y más endeudamiento sólo contribuye a terminar de hundir el país y los ahorros de los ciudadanos (tal como ha hecho Syriza). Y cuarto, no hay que rescatar a gobiernos extranjeros manirrotos: si los dirigentes políticos no quieren cuadrar sus cuentas, debemos dejarles quebrar con su orgullo patriótico intacto (lo que no hizo la Troika en 2010 ni en 2012).
Los políticos griegos nos han dado importantes lecciones de qué camino no debemos seguir, como en 2001 ya nos las dieron los argentinos. No terminemos de convertir a España en Grecia, por mucho que la casta de Nueva Democracia y el Pasok sea un calco de PP y de PSOE y por mucho que la neocasta de Syriza sea la hermana gemela de Podemos.