Submitted by Tyler Durden – ZeroHedge
Despite Angela Merkel’s insistence on numerous occasions this past week that there will be “no debt renegotiations,” it appears a schism at the core of Europe is opening. As France24 reports, following a meeting between France’s finance minister Michel Sapin and Greece’s finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, the press conference had a considerably more amicable tone that Friday’s Dijsselbloem dissing. “France is more than prepared to support Greece,” Sapin said adding that Greece’s efforts to renegotiate were “legitimate.” Sapin urged a “new contract between Greece and its partners.”
As France24 reports,
France’s Socialist government offered support Sunday for Greece’s efforts to renegotiate debt for its huge bailout plan, amid renewed fears about Europe’s economic stability.
The backing was a victory for Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, holding talks with European officials to push for new conditions on debt from creditors who rescued Greece’s economy to save the shared euro currency. Worries have mounted that Greece’s new far left government might not pay back its debts.
Varoufakis is also visiting London and Rome – and said Sunday that he would visit Berlin. The German government has been particularly angry at the new Greek government’s position and bluntly rejected suggestions that Greece should be forgiven part of its rescue loans.
Varoufakis insisted that Greece wants to pay the money back, but said he wants new terms and new negotiating partners, arguing that “it’s not worth” discussing with the so-called “troika” of creditors who set the strict terms for Greece’s rescue.
France’s Socialist leadership, whose president has campaigned against austerity, presented itself Sunday as a possible mediator between Greece and creditors.
French Finance Minister Michel Sapin insisted his country wouldn’t support canceling the debt, but offered support for a new timeframe or terms.
“France is more than prepared to support Greece,” Sapin said after meeting Varoufakis, saying Greece’s efforts to renegotiate were “legitimate.” Sapin urged a “new contract between Greece and its partners.”*
Greece Gains Vastly in Entertainment Value
As we always point out in these pages, the best one can as a rule hope for in a politician is that he will provide us with entertainment. Syriza chief and new Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras and his ministers have certainly exhibited far greater entertainment value so far than their rather dull predecessors.
Within hours of taking up his post, Alexis Tsipras issued a number of zingers in the general direction of Brussels. First it was widely reported that he threatened not to support new EU sanctions against Russia, the imposition of which requires unanimity. It was then said that the Greek government quickly withdrew its opposition after consulting with the rest of the EU. However, the real story seems to be that Tsipras was simply miffed that the EU claimed that there was unanimous support for the sanctions package without deigning to even ask the new Greek government whether it agreed.
Yanis Varoufakis, Greece’s new minister of finance.
Photo credit: Kostas Tsironis / Reuters
As an aside to this, people have wondered why Russia has offered financial support to Greece; the conclusion is usually that Russia is trying to gain allies in the EU so as to break the sanctions consensus. This is of course true, but there is more to this than meets the eye. Greece and Russia are traditionally on friendly terms because the Orthodox faith is the main religion in both countries. The same connection exists also between Serbia and Russia and it could also be one of the reasons why a number of Russian oligarchs had money parked in Cypriot banks. Continue reading
Robert Parry is one of my favorite columnists. He is truthful, has a sense of justice, and delivers a firm punch. He used to be a “mainstream journalist,” like me, but we were too truthful for them. They kicked us out.
I can’t say Parry has always been one of my favorite journalists. During the 1980s he spent a lot of time on Reagan’s case. Having been on corporate boards, I know that CEOs seldom know everything that is going on in the company. There are just too many people and too many programs representing too many agendas. For presidents of countries with governments as large as the US government, there is far more going on than a president has time to learn about even if he could get accurate information.
In my day Assistant Secretaries and chiefs of staff were the most important people, because they controlled the flow of information. Presidents have to focus on fund raising for their reelection and for their party. More time and energy is used up with formalities and meetings with dignitaries and media events. At the most there are two or three issues on which a president can attempt leadership. If an organized clique such as the neoconservatives get into varied positions of authority, they can actually “create the reality” and take the government away from the president.
As I have reported on many occasions, my experience with Reagan left me with the conclusion that he was interested in two big issues. He wanted to stop the stagflation for which only the supply-side economists had a solution, and he wanted to end, not win, the cold war. Continue reading