Obama enters Greek ‘ circus’
US PRESIDENT Barack Obama has been forced to intervene in the Greek crisis at the European leaders’ summit to discuss the impending doom after the Greeks turned up bearing no gifts.
On Monday leaders from France and Germany, Francoise Hollande and Angela Merkel, made it clear they needed a solid plan from Greece to discuss and form a new aid reform package.
But Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and new Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos turned up with nothing but a few bullet point notes the latter jotted down on the bedside notepad at his hotel.
The note had notations such as “state of play” and “no triumphalism”, apparently to remind him not to boast about his leftist Government’s victory at the referendum that saw 61 per cent of voters say “No” to further aid in exchange for austerity.
It was a referendum result European Commission president Jean- Claude Jucker dismissed as an “irrelevant circus”.
Many eurozone leaders could not hide their fury at being summoned to the emergency meeting and to hear the Greek delegation’s plan only to see their Finance Minister with nothing to table.
The pair have now been given to today to come up with a reform plan. They are expected to ask for a bridging loan until the end of the month.
On Sunday, the 28 leaders of the European Union will meet to assess final proposals for Greece that EU President Donald Tusk described as “maybe the most critical moment in our history”.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte accused the Greeks of again playing games as their country goes to the brink.
“I’m very cheerless about this summit and I’m very cheerless about the fact whether Greece wants to come with proposals at all,” he said.
“The only solution is for Greece to make far- reaching reforms and implement difficult measures. The fate of Greece in the euro and the responsibility is in Athens, not here. The Greek Government is taking a large risk with the interests of the Greek people.”
Mr Tsakalotos said progress had been made at the summit despite the lack of a detailed document, and he was buoyed by the euro leaders’ “political will to give Greece a chance”.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was unconvinced. “We still do not have the basis for negotiations,” she said.
“It is not a question of weeks any more, but a question of a few days,” she warned.
Mr Obama spoke with Prime Minister Tsipras by phone yesterday to enforce his desire for a resolution. He had earlier spoken with Dr Merkel, urging her and her colleagues to find a solution.
Meanwhile, Greek banks and the local stock exchange remained closed, a cap on withdrawals was still in place and liquidity remained critical.