General strike brings Greece to standstill
Greece's trade unions brought the country to a virtual standstill on Thursday with anti-austerity protests. The government is once again at loggerheads with the troika over the implementation of the reforms that are a prerequisite for financial aid. But arguing with the creditors won't help the country out of its predicament, some commentators criticise, urging Athens to take swift action.
Row with creditors won't achieve anything
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras must convince his countrymen that only by meeting the international creditors' terms can Greece move on, the liberal business paper Financial Times urges: "Within less than a year, he has won two national elections and a referendum, and faces little opposition within and outside of his party. It is now time to use this political capital. Passing the first bailout review without delay would help to build credibility. ... The prime minister ought to be persuading his colleagues and the public of the necessity of this, not encouraging them to believe that a fight with creditors can yield dividends. That he is not doing this - so soon after the election - suggests his second term may be no more productive than the first."
Athens has no time for mistakes
Athens' new negotiations with its creditors represent a danger for the entire country, the business paper Imerisia believes: "The reopening of the fronts has only worsened the mood, and even endangered the banks' recapitalisation process. It is evident that the private investors want clarity. They want the economy to take a clear direction, and that can only be done once the assessment has been completed and the stipulated measures have been implemented. ... This is an extremely difficult time in which key economic, political and national factors are at stake. The government in particular - but also the entire political system - must show responsibility. There is no time for mistakes."
Greece never believed in reforms
Not only the trade unions but also the ruling party called on the people to strike. The centre-right daily Corriere della Sera sees this as a sign that the party doesn't believe in the austerity measures it signed up for: "In this way, so the government claims, the country's position vis-à-vis the troika will be strengthened. … But its call is an unfortunate rhetorical idea in view of the disorientation at the grass-roots level. This makes it clear why a reform policy and controls on spending have promoted growth and reduced unemployment in countries like Portugal, Ireland, Cyprus and Spain, but not in Greece. The governments in Athens never believed in the reform policy and never implemented it, even though Greece needed it more than any other country. … Tsipras doesn't believe in what he's doing either. But the state of limbo in which he stubbornly persists is not good for him and it's not good for the Greeks."