Athens defaults on IMF payment
Greece has failed to make a 1.55 billion euro payment to the IMF that was due at the end of June. Prior to this the Eurozone finance ministers rejected an appeal to extend the country's bailout programme by a few days. The Eurozone has committed an inexcusable mistake by driving the country into insolvency, some commentators write. Others call for an end to indulgence for the debt-ridden country.
The Eurozone's incredible mistake
It was an enormous mistake of the Eurozone to manoeuvre Greece into a situation in which it had to default on an IMF payment, the liberal daily De Standaard laments: "It is a shameful defeat for all involved leaders that a member of the Eurozone has been forced to default on its financial obligations. The euro is not merely a market instrument that obeys the laws of supply and demand. It is the concrete expression of the will of hundred of millions of Europeans to share a common destiny. The way in which this will has been played with in recent months has damaged the credibility of the entire European project. … It is an irreparable disgrace. Regardless of the referendum on Sunday and how the Greeks vote, Europe will have to live with this incredible mistake from now on."
Athens can break the vicious circle
The rejection of further austerity demands is the only sensible way out of the Greek crisis, economist Mariana Mazzucato writes in the centre-left daily La Repubblica: "As Greece's finance minister Varoufakis has repeatedly stressed, Greece isn't suffering a liquidity crisis but a solvency crisis that in turn has been caused by a competitiveness crisis and been exacerbated by the financial crisis. A crisis of this type can't be solved with more and more cutbacks, but only with a serious investment strategy accompanied by real and not pro forma reforms to boost competitiveness. In the false belief that this is merely a liquidity crisis, too much focus was put on the debt repayment deadlines and stringent austerity requirements for new bailout packages which without growth and competitiveness can never be repaid, thus creating a vicious circle."
Greeks must vote no
Greece's opposition leader and former prime minister Antonis Samaras has described Sunday's referendum as a vote on whether or not to remain in the EU - and not on the creditors' austerity demands. But only by voting no can the Greeks stay in the European Union, blogger Pitsirikos writes: "If all the Greeks were to vote no, Greece's position in the European Union would be secure. Saying yes to the requirements would sooner or later lead to Greece exiting the EU. Only a no would be taken seriously by the EU leaders. In addition, other European countries that are keeping a close eye on the situation will follow our lead. A yes would mean prolonging the policy of sky-rocketing state debt, impoverishment, emigration and all the other ills that austerity has brought with it. A yes would mean subordination. And that would be the end."
Irish success story just a myth
In the austerity policy debate Ireland is often described as a success story among the EU crisis states. But that's not quite the reality of the situation, the centre-left daily The Irish Times argues: "'The Pride of Europe' is a makey-up story that is intended to take the place of the realities it displaces. It's not a stand-alone narrative. It has an evil twin: Greece. It belongs to a particular genre of fiction: the morality tale. Ireland is the pride of Europe because it is the anti-Greece. We are good because we play along with the bigger stories of the euro zone crisis. Greece is evil because it stopped doing so. … We exist, not as a society, but as a necessary validation for a destructive fiction."
Europe must stop doting on its problem children
Europe should part ways with its problem children and follow a self-assured path to economic excellence, the conservative daily Die Welt urges: "Instead of gingerly and guiltily defending economic success, the EU should proclaim even louder that the (for the most part) luxurious living standards in Europe must be fought for on a day-to-day basis in the global competition. For years Europe has hindered its own progress by caring - and paying - for its problem children, instead of developing itself as a high-wage region and cultural landscape where excellence is the order of the day. ... Europe is a cultural and economic success story. The majority of Europeans put ambition above redistribution. Hence European consolidation is only possible in the form of an association of sovereign - and in particular economically sovereign - states. Merkel must now do something she's not particularly good at: stop moderating and take a risk. She must put herself at the forefront of progress. With like-minded people for a Europe of excellence."