Euro finance ministers fail to reach agreement
The Greek Finance Minister and his colleagues were unable to agree on an extension of the bailout programme for Athens on Wednesday night at the Euro Group meeting. Greece must finally show willingness to make compromises, some commentators argue. Others call on the EU to develop an alternative to Greece having to leave the Eurozone if the negotiations fail.
Athens must show willingness for compromise
An agreement in the debt conflict is still possible if Athens can agree to make overtures to the monetary union, the German public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk believes: "The Euro Group is at least willing to build small bridges. Because no one has any interest in Greece going bankrupt or leaving the Eurozone. Everyone would lose out in such a scenario, even if Greece would suffer far more than the rest of Europe. ... But one thing is also clear: Europe cannot provide support unless controls are in place; reform measures can be corrected in certain details, but not simply cancelled. There's simply no money for expensive electoral gifts. And Greece is no more likely to receive a debt cut just because the government in Athens is demanding it loudly."
Concessions on both sides needed
The Eurozone and Athens need to find a compromise in the debt dispute because so much is at stake for both sides, the liberal daily Kurier urges: "It would be responsible and clever for both sides to make compromises. Do the hardliners really want to risk Greece going bankrupt? If so, they will also have to explain the bankruptcy of the EU's years of consensus-building policy, as well as the image debacle of the EU peace project. If Syriza manages to reform and modernise the corrupt country and crack down on tax fraud, Greece could become a role model for other failing states. This would be proof that left-wing parties can indeed achieve plenty."
EU needs Plan B for Greece
If the negotiating partners in the debt dispute continue on the present course Greece will end up outside the Eurozone, the conservative daily Dziennik Gazeta Prawna warns and calls on the EU to develop a Plan B: "The possibility of Greece being thrown out of or withdrawing from the Eurozone is becoming increasingly real. But if that happens it won't be only the Greeks who are to blame. ... It's not even clear if the austerity programme the troika wants to impose on Greece will be at all effective, or could actually be counter-productive. Even the IMF admitted a couple of months ago that it hasn't precisely calculated the negative impact of cutbacks on GDP. And the experiences in other countries don't allow for clear conclusions. ... The problem is that the proponents of a tough stance on Greece have only planned for the country being booted out if the negotiations fail."
Old hostilities resurfacing
Mutual feelings of resentment are being stoked in the negotiations between Athens and the euro finance ministers, the liberal daily La Stampa fears: "The Eurozone can no longer be managed in this way. Conflicts between governments like yesterday's quarrelling over Greece's place in the Euro Group fuel hostile feelings of a strong national character, feelings that become lodged in people's minds. ... Today's institutions are taking the wrong approach to the mutual economic dependence created by the euro. ... In the democratically legitimated, collective organisations of the Eurozone - to which national sovereignty would have to be ceded - it would be far less difficult to reach decisions about the conditions under which Greece could receive an additional aid package amounting to ten percent of the loans hitherto granted - and about the number of years by which the deadline for repayment must be extended. Because that's what this is all about."
Varoufakis fighting for all Europe
Tens of thousands of Syriza supporters demonstrated in Athens on Wednesday to back their government in the debt conflict. Syriza is fighting not only for the Greeks but for all Europeans, the pro-government left-leaning daily Avgi writes: "The Greek government's fight has the support of a large majority of the population. This is also its major strength. The people would like to see an end to the humiliating behaviour their country has been subjected to, and they welcome their government's strong stance. ... The opposition parties in Greece should listen to the voice of the people and truly ally themselves with the government in this critical national struggle. The government is fighting to give the people a reprieve and put the country on the path to growth. It is a fight for an end to the catastrophic austerity policy in all of Europe."