Euro Group sends Athens packing
The finance ministers of the Eurozone have ruled out further bailout negotiations with Greece before the referendum. This decision came after Athens had accepted almost all the austerity demands in a letter to the creditors. Some commentators urge the Greeks to say no to the austerity policy on Sunday for Europe's sake. Others see the vote as a diversionary manoeuvre by the government in Athens.
Greeks can end Europe's lost wanderings
Brussels could be forced to make a necessary change of course if the Greeks reject the creditors' offer in Sunday's referendum, the centre-left daily Le Quotidien comments: "The European left hopes that the Greeks will vote no. That would be a clear sign that the austerity, rigour and blindness that for years have determined the fate of the people of Europe are no longer called for. How can one trust a troika that for years has been sinking the Greek ship? ... If the Greeks say no on Sunday they won't be saying no to Europe: they'll be rejecting the vision of the world that led them into the abyss. Without wanting to absolve them of their responsibility, this no won't fail to open Brussels' closed doors. And it will force Europe to listen to new ideas that are no doubt needed because today's model is no longer tenable."
Tsipras evading responsibility
The Tsipras government is trying to evade responsibility with the referendum, the daily 24 Chasa complains: "All the chances have been wasted. Tsipras and his finance minister have no more advocates in the EU. After all the billions that have been pumped into the Greek budget and all the offers made to the Greeks, the EU finance ministers don't want to play any more games. The Greek crisis is now solely Greece's problem. … Alexis Tsipras and his cabinet are trying to pin the blame for their failure on the evil Europeans, the neo-liberals, the conspiring creditors, Germany, the IMF and capitalism. This is why they are bidding the Greeks to the ballot on Sunday. Soon we'll see whether they prefer to queue up at the polling stations or at the cash points."
Athens' debts not so huge
Even if the Greeks, with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras at the fore, have driven practically every European crazy in the last few months it would be wrong to abandon them now, warns the liberal daily Sme: "It would be unfair to claim that the Greeks have done nothing in the last five years. Back then their living standards were like those in France while their productivity was even lower than Slovakia's. This is no longer the case today. … The astronomic sums this has cost Europe are only huge at first glance. Just take a look at Eastern Germany, at the sums that the German government pays there. Roughly calculated, it would have ten times more debt than Greece today without that help. … The Greeks, too, deserve a second chance. The country is of vast strategic importance for Europe and the entire West. Its economic suicide would be a defeat for all Europe."
Debt conflict reveals German-French rift
In refusing further negotiations before Sunday's referendum the Euro Group has aligned itself with Germany, while France's President François Hollande has argued in favour of a quick compromise. The rift between Berlin and Paris is growing, the conservative daily Le Figaro comments: "The president doesn't want to further alienate the left-wing of his party, which is already very restless. Despite his assurances that the economy is improving, he has shown that he is afraid of an economic shock. And the amount of debt or observance of Europe's rules were never among his priorities. The chancellor, for her part, has been pushed to demonstrate severity by her Social-Democratic coalition partners - who are clearly far removed from their French counterparts. She need have no fear for her economy, and for her Greece is less important than the principles without which the euro would be 'doomed'. The Greek conflict has brought to light a serious Franco-German malfunction."
Obama would solve the crisis differently
Washington urged the EU on Monday to continue talks with Athens. Once again the widening gap between Europe and the US is evident, the liberal-conservative daily Corriere della Sera writes: "If the US president favours an agreement with Athens, he is guided by geopolitics. Left to its own resources, excluded from the single currency and perhaps from the EU, Greece would fall into the hands of Russian President Vladimir Putin. German Chancellor Angela Merkel sees the same danger, but she doesn't perceive it as such a threat. And Greece is not the only point on which the views diverge. After the jihadists' most recent attacks, criticism in Europe of the US's absence has grown loud. And in the Ukraine crisis too, the apparent harmony conceals major rifts within Nato and the EU. … The transatlantic alliance is not in crisis. But it needs to be revised according to the criteria of the new world order."