Opinion: And the winner is Angela Merkel! | Opinion | DW | 13.07.2015
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Opinion

Opinion: And the winner is Angela Merkel!

Again, Alexis Tsipras tries his hand at fiddling with history, sugarcoating the outcome of the summit. The real winner, however, leaves with a quiet smile, says DW's Barbara Wesel.

In the end, the chancellor averted the threat. After a marathon meeting in Brussels, a "Grexit" is off the table, at least for the time being.

Should agreement on a third bailout package fail after all, Angela Merkel will not be to blame. She can prove that she negotiated with the unruly Greek prime minister to the point of exhaustion. In the end, Tsipras was indeed clearly exhausted. And Merkel had once again proven her almost superhuman strength in pulling all-nighters. In the end, Tsipras had nothing left to confront Merkel's factual and personal authority. She actually negotiated him into the ground.

Tough new package

The terms of the new aid program contain all the necessary reforms Greece that has delayed for years, and that are designed to put the country back on its feet - finally.

Do you recall how the Greeks railed against a pension reform just a few months ago? Never would they go along with such reforms - only over their dead political bodies! Nothing but bluster. Tsipras has been forced to swallow so many bitter pills - Athens will now have to liberalize and reform everything. The dysfunctional Greek state is supposed to start working like a modern state. #ThisIsACoup, Greek supporters tweeted as soon as details of the deal emerged. And they're right!

Barbara Wesel

DW's Barbara Wesel

If the Greek government hadn't still believed in the world revolution back in February and instead had come to an agreement with its creditors, the terms would have been less strict. But after months of wavering, incompetence and unrestrainedly riotous rhetoric by Tsipras and his team, the eurozone finally lost all patience. The about-face with the referendum and the Greek people's "No" was the straw that broke the camel's back. In the end, even Alexis Tsipras' best friend, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, was hopping mad. Now Tsipras is selling his compatriots the Brussels aid package as a great success, even though it is the very thing they just rejected. Is that a Greek form of democracy?

1:0 for Merkel

Angela Merkel saved the eurozone's unity, and she saved her own political legacy. She can't be branded heartless and obsessed with rules - after all, another 86 billion euros for Greece isn't a trifling amount. It's easy to justify the fact that she forced every single reform target on Alexis Tsipras that the troika ever came up with: the Greeks need to be forced to see the light. Apart from the money, they're getting the liberalization and modernization that they never wanted, and in the end they will benefit, the argument goes.

Of course, there's at least one catch: Can Tsipras survive this deal, or will it tear apart his party and ruling majority? Will the voters forgive his breaking his election promises? Are the Greeks with their culture of corruption and a historical bent to state bankruptcy even capable of reform?

Next act coming up

But now the inspectors are back, and they will keep a strict eye on payment and adherence to the terms. If there's one thing that Alexis Tsipras had to learn, it's that you need a long spoon to eat with Angela Merkel. She is a master power politician and a master of strategic moves; next to her, the young Greek looks like an absolute beginner.

Once again, Germany's chancellor saved the euro. But the Greek drama isn't likely to be over: we're sure to see the next act soon.

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