The Financial Times‘ Europe editor, Tony Barber, has marked the approaching third anniversary of left-wing Syriza in power with a lengthy expose detailing the transformation of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras from a radical firebrand to the leader most willing to do the bidding of Greece’s creditors.
“He took office in January 2015 as the most radical leftist prime minister of a European democracy in the post-1945 era. An intransigent opponent of the creditors, he abhorred their stranglehold on Greek economic policy. His foolhardiness almost caused Greece to crash out of the eurozone,» the report says.
«Then at the eleventh hour, he reversed course and started doing the creditors’ bidding. His surrender kept Greece in the currency union. Barring some unforeseen turmoil in domestic politics or global markets, Greece will leave its third bailout, this one worth €86bn, in August,” the FT story says.
Greece’s geopolitical weight, Souda Bay
Barber outlines a confluence of geopolitical events that have upgraded Greece’s geostrategic roll, making it an anchor of stability.
“For Europe and the US, the spread of regional turbulence has marked out Greece as a prized locus of stability and friendship. The Balkans is fragile, struggling to uphold democracy and the rule of law and wooed by Russia, China and the Gulf states,” Barber says, noting that Turkey has become an authoritarian regime, Syria is unstable and militant Islamism threatens the Middle East and North Africa.”
“No wonder the US values its naval support facility at Souda Bay on the Greek island of Crete. All in all, Greece appears today as a pillar of reliability in the eastern Mediterranean,” the report said.
Risk of complacency
Finally, the analysis stresses the challenges in reforming the Greek state, and notes that all too little progress has been made on that front.
“The danger is that, insofar as the creditors relax supervision of Greece in August, old habits will creep back. It would be a poor reward for all the troubles Greece and its partners have endured since 2010,” Barber underlines.