Opinion: The eurozone′s infinite loop | Opinion | DW | 23.06.2015
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Opinion: The eurozone's infinite loop

It's hard to know exactly why the latest round of negotiations over Greek debt flopped. Was it intentional? Or were both sides simply unable to strike a deal? DW's Bernd Riegert is on the ground in Brussels.

Greek's leftist government seems to have finally found its sense of reason. All it took for Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to come round was months of acrimony, brinkmanship, economic contraction, massive capital flight, a banking crisis and plummeting tourism revenues! At long last, Athens has decided to put a realistic offer on the table. "It's about time!" one is tempted to yell.

Surely Alexis Tsipras and co. could have spared us all this drama. The proposal of his that has now emerged easily could have been put forward in April. Through its abysmal negotiating tactics, his government has completely lost the trust of its European partners, the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank as well as foreign investors. And trust is the only commodity that the otherwise resource-poor nation has.

It's getting ridiculous

By way of its far-too-late submission of its negotiating position, the Greek government even blew its chances of having Monday be the big decision day. Eurozone finance ministers, duped and empty-handed, walked away once again due to a lack of finalized proposals. The emergency summit that was supposed to offer a stage for a dramatic breakthrough in the talks was reduced to an "advisory summit" because of Athens' unprofessional direction. The fact that Angela Merkel had to come up with a face-saving term for the meeting just went to show how embarassing the whole thing was. Were it not so sad for Greece and the eurozone, it would be laughable.

Angela Merkel hasn't really been able to live up to the reputation for savvy crisis management that precedes her wherever she goes. She lacked concrete answers for too many questions. She seemed perplexed. Alexis Tsipras left his European partners waiting again, playing his game all the while. He knows full well that they won't let his country go bankrupt in the end. The consequences for the euro unity project are still incalculable. So they'll have another round of negotiations, another summit on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the moment of truth fast approaches. Come June 30, Greece could go crashing out of the eurozone. At least the government in Athens now seems to have understood that a continuation of the current aid program is necessary for any disbursement of further funds. But that presupposes an agreement in the next 48 hours. Alexis Tsipras has, figuratively speaking, been given a swift kick in the butt.

The Lithuanian president, Dalia Grybauskaite, has said the Greek premier now must take responsibility and can't keep requesting more money. Whether those words will have any effect - and whether Alexis Tsipras can enforce possible concessions at home - remains to be seen.

Can't take it any longer

Only one thing is certain: The Greek tragedy is far from over. Even if there is agreement over Greece's second auxiliary program, it will only hold the heavily indebted country afloat for a few weeks. And during that time real negotiations will begin over a viable solution to the debt problem. Debt relief will probably be necessary, as will deferrals and far-reaching reforms to state structures in Greece.

To reach the light at the end, Greece must still traverse the entire tunnel.