Opinion: Enough gambling with Greece! | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 19.06.2015
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Opinion: Enough gambling with Greece!

Dear Europeans and dear Greeks, we beseech you: Enough is enough! For the well-being of the Greek people, the ones truly suffering, please reach agreement at next week's summit, implores DW's Bernd Riegert.

This latest meeting of the eurozone's finance ministers was enough to leave one speechless. Both sides - that is the Greeks and their creditors - stuck to their guns, completely unwilling to reconcile or compromise, all the while reiterating that each respective side has been extremely obliging throughout the negotiation process.

This just can't be right. The one side has an absolutely unrealistic view, distorted by ideology, of how to solve the problem. You know who I am talking about: Yanis Varoufakis, Greece's finance minister, who since the negotiations began in February seems yet to have grasped a single thing.

Professor Varoufakis fills his speeches with cute ideas on how Greece should be transformed into a paradise by consolidating debt and printing more money from its federal reserve. If you haven't noticed yet, you are no longer speaking to students in a college seminar. You are a real politician, and you should learn how to act accordingly.

Just an example: For weeks, Varoufakis has romanced about plans to tax the rich and streamline Greek fiscal authorities. He could have already taken steps to do this. You don't need agreements with European institutions to do this. You need political will and a concrete plan. Both of those things, however, seem to be missing in the arsenal of this swaggering Greek financial leviathan.

Deutsche Welle Bernd Riegert

Deutsche Welle's Bernd Riegert

Varoufakis should take very seriously that not a single one of his eurozone counterparts, nor the IMF, nor the European Central Bank can even begin to do anything with his theories. He and Syriza are playing with the fate of the Greek people, whose suffering will only intensify if their state goes bankrupt and is forced out of the euro.

Why, for goodness sake, has the Greek government chosen now to be bullish and demand a debt restructuring - before a decision can be made as to the repayment of a relatively modest 7.2 billion euros ($8.1 billion)? Varoufakis and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras have to appease the communist and radical leftist factions of their party - that's why. And this is understandable, but it is no justification for taking an entire people hostage, not to mention for paralyzing the European Union with this ongoing crisis.

Either this government jumps out of its shadow and is able to reach agreement with its European partners on a new bailout next week, or it's time for new elections. The rest of the eurozone is not prepared to shell out more aid - without concrete reform promises - just to keep Greece in the monetary union.

This, at the very least, Varoufakis should have gathered from Luxembourg and the meetings with his counterparts. What did come out of Luxembourg, it should be said, was an extension of the current assistance package through June 30. Until then, no more money can be paid out - this is technically impossible.

The question remains how Greece will ultimately avert bankruptcy. And it's not only Greece that is involved. If the eurozone is to be kept complete, not only Athens will have to jump out of its shadow on Monday. The Europeans will have to send a signal of hope to Greece suggestive of a possible consolidation, which can be negotiated after the extension of the aid program.

Monday's summit is the last chance for both sides to pull themselves together. Please act like adults! The head of the IMF has already begged you to do the right thing, and hopefully you will heed Christine Lagarde's warning.

The Greek demise is 11 days away. And should Athens go bankrupt, the government will be more than partially responsible for that happening. The time for bluffing and playing it cool is over. We want results.

Have any thoughts to share? Please do so in the comments section below.

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