Per­ilous tri­an­gle

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY ALEXIS PA­PACHELAS

The gov­ern­ment has just enough time ahead to com­plete three very dif­fi­cult tasks: the re­view of the Greek pro­gram, the re­cap­i­tal­iza­tion of banks, and the talks on debt restruc­tur­ing. Should the left­ist-led ad­min­is­tra­tion pull these off, it will set the coun­try on a whole new tra­jec­tory. If it fails, spec­u­la­tion about a pos­si­ble Grexit will re­turn – and, as we know, the prospect is no longer taboo among Euro­pean lead­ers. Let’s put aside for a mo­ment the po­lit­i­cal ob­sta­cles in­volved – which are nei­ther neg­li­gi­ble nor fully pre­dictable. What the coun­try’s part­ners are re­ally con­cerned about is whether the ex­ist­ing gov­ern­ment has the tech­ni­cal know-how to bring a plan of this mag­ni­tude and com­plex­ity to fruition. So far, the Greeks have come across as woe­fully un­pre­pared. Min­is­ters and their aides ca­su­ally show up to meet­ings and ne­go­ti­a­tions with­out any se­ri­ous prepa­ra­tion. In­ter­na­tional of­fi­cials find it hard to trust their Greek coun­ter­parts who worked in this area in the past. Con­sult­ing with the vet­er­ans of the pre­vi­ous bailout agree­ments is out of the ques­tion. The only hope lies with the lower strata of the gov­ern­ment nomen­cla­ture. Here you will find ed­u­cated young men and women, in­di­vid­u­als who are free from par­ti­san di­rec­tives, who re­al­ize that not ev­ery­thing in­cluded in the mem­o­ran­dum is by def­i­ni­tion a bad thing. They also re­al­ize that this gov­ern­ment, like all pre­vi­ous ones, has no real ac­tion plan or re­form pro­gram. How­ever, will they be able to shoul­der the bur­den and see through the mea­sures that need to be im­ple­mented over the next few weeks while they are only just get­ting the hang of the job? Will the Max­i­mos Man­sion of­fer sup­port when party hacks and union lead­ers start bash­ing at them as “agents of the troika”? If ex­pe­ri­ence is any guide, such projects only suc­ceed un­der close su­per­vi­sion. For­mer premier An­to­nis Sa­ma­ras was quite good at micromanaging, which in­cluded phone calls to min­istry di­rec­tors. His suc­ces­sor, Alexis Tsipras, has been largely un­in­volved. Nor is there a team of peo­ple that can ex­e­cute re­quests. Mean­while, across the ta­ble, Greece’s part­ners seem to be in a rel­a­tively pos­i­tive mood – par­tic­u­larly the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion. How­ever, no one can help you if you can­not guar­an­tee that your peo­ple will not act on your or­ders. The prob­lem in Greece is that prime min­is­ters rarely re­al­ize that they need two dif­fer­ent sets of peo­ple to gov­ern the coun­try: one for com­mu­ni­ca­tion and another for pol­i­cy­mak­ing. So far, the Tsipras ad­min­is­tra­tion has ex­celled in the field of PR. It will soon have to raise its game in pol­i­cy­mak­ing or the re­view-re­cap­i­tal­iza­tion­debt tri­an­gle will prove a po­lit­i­cal Ber­muda Tri­an­gle for the coun­try.

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