The last national disaster Greece has experienced was the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in the summer of 1974. This invasion was precipitated by the Greek junta’s decision to attempt a coup and remove Makarios as the head of state of Cyprus. Turkey saw this move as the opportunity it was looking for to re-draw the map in Cyprus. The result was a 4 decade conflict and stalemate on this small and tortured island in Eastern Mediterranean.
The junta’s actions in Cyprus over the first 6 months of 1974 were motivated by calculation, fanaticism and crucially stupidity. I am not suggesting for a second that Syriza is not a legitimate government in 2015 in Greece. What I am suggesting though is that it is displaying at the moment the same calculation, fanaticism and stupidity that leads to fatal errors. Syriza’s errors are also likely to result in 40 years of struggle.
As I have often stressed, this is a home-made, a chosen crisis. I do not believe in conspiracy theories and I do not think that Varoufakis and Tsakalotos (resoundingly pro-European) had a Grexit plan up their sleeves all along. They have nonetheless proved themselves incompetent, devious, and fanatical. They have created a situation where rupture is not only an option but a fact. I am focusing on Varoufakis and Tsakalotos as I know them through their academic work. Syriza always contained Grexit lovers, like Lapavitsas and outlandish fanatics like Kostantopoulou. I blame Varoufakis (primarily) for giving space for the fanatics to take over the government.
Syriza negotiated in bad faith since February, missed chances to achieve a decent deal, squandered the good-will of all partners. Syriza backed itself into a corner and when faced with the choice between a bad-deal that cost it its support, or a deal that kept the country in the Euro (inevitably bad due to prior mistakes and creditor hard-lines) it chose the former.
Syriza left the economy stagnate and die for 5 months and then pulled the trigger on what was left by losing us ECB support, letting the programme expire without agreement, making defaults on debt inevitable and finally (but crucially) imposing capital controls to keep the zombie-like banking system shuffling forward. This is a crisis of their choosing and their making.
A series of mistakes, miscalculations, wilful blindness and fanatical ideology have created another Cyprus moment. Another national crisis that if not resolved immediately, will last for another 40 years. Syriza needs to stop prying the country’s fingers off the edge of the cliff. Syriza needs to resign now, swap this despicable, devious referendum for an election so the people can properly make a real choice as to the sort of future they want.
Please note that I am not advocating a pro-Euro coup d’etat. I am advocating an election so the Greeks can make their Euro or Drachma choice (with all that this entails). If they choose Drachma, we will find a way to make it work, even though I do not support this choice.
Tsipras does not need to go down in Greek history as another Ioannides.