A masterclass in how not to conduct diplomatic negotiations: Reflections on the new Greek bailout agreement

Alexis Tsipras

Vassiliki Koutrakou criticises Syriza’s negotiation strategy with the EU

Despite the unquestionable relief at its accomplishment, the provisional agreement on a 3rd bailout deal for Greece, reached on the night of 12th July will remain in the annals of history as the result of one of the most catastrophic negotiations a European nation-state government has ever conducted.

The 6 month old SYRIZA government succeeded in derailing the painstakingly implemented Greek debt recovery plan which, after considerable austerity and sacrifice by the Greek people was beginning to show just the faintest shoots of recovery. These feeble shoots were trampled over, the crucial interlocutors blamed, insulted, annoyed and exasperated before being desperately begged for money, old historic divisive wounds were scratched raw, nationalities and disabilities of partners mocked and offended, the Greek people were systematically misinformed and led on an unprecedented path of self- destruction and redoubled misery, by a government- and its learned supporters- lacking in the most basic diplomatic skills and ability, understanding of politico-economic realities, or consistent- even if marginal- ideological moorings.

The deal reached is a good thing for Europe and for Greece, as it has averted the worst, the break-up of the Eurozone and the complete casting adrift of Greece on a course which would have set it backward socially, economically, and politically for generations. It may even be a deal which finally achieves- by the more trustworthy hand of the Eurozone itself- much more swiftly and efficiently the drastic and necessary reforms and privatisations which successive Greek governments dragged their feet over for decades. It is nevertheless a deal which is massively more heavily conditional, burdensome, and worrisome for the bewildered, misled and betrayed Greek people than the ones in place prior to this government’s assumption of power, and certainly much more so than the Greek people voted against in the farcical referendum of the 5th July, while enveloped in a ludicrous cloud of pompous posturing and rhetoric of supposed patriotism and illusions of dignity which only compounded the country’s humiliation.

It will take many more sacrifices by the Greek people and a long road of rebuilding the trust amidst the country’s European partners and international markets. The hope is that we have seen the end of amateurish experimentation and the return to stability and recovery.

Dr Vassiliki Koutrakou is the Director CREST (Centre for Research in European Studies), University of East Anglia

Image credit: Flickr


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