The Financial Times has spoken, and Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras is the one to blame for the current debacle unfolding in Greece.
In an editorial from the FT posted Sunday, the paper argues that Tsipras has not only overplayed his hand, but may now be misleading his people on just what is at stake in Greece’s July 5 referendum.
On Friday night, Tsipras made a surprise announcement calling for a vote on the latest proposed terms of a bailout extension from Greece’s creditors. This move led to a breakdown in talks on Saturday and has set Greece on a course to missing its scheduled payment of €1.6 billion to the IMF on Tuesday.
But as the FT notes, calling for this referendum for a date after when Greece was sure it would still have funding is not what Tsipras thinks it is.
As the FT writes:
His tactic has already come unstuck because the eurozone has refused to consider extending their bailout offer to the date of the poll. By Sunday, when the referendum votes are due to be cast, there may be no deal on the table to discuss.
Nor has Mr Tsipras been candid about the meaning of the “resounding no” vote he is calling the electorate to deliver on a question that has yet even to be defined.
The FT adds that the Greek referendum will not be a vote on a bailout agreement but, “a vote for the euro or the drachma — no more, no less.”
And so in the FT’s view, Tsipras has called for, and marketed, a pending referendum vote as being about one thing — a new bailout agreement — when it is actually about another — a Greece exit from the euro.
As it stands, Greece is looking at default and Greek banks are now set to remain closed until at least the July 5 referendum.
Later on Sunday night — and after the FT editorial was published — Tsipras spoke on Greek television and sought to assure Greek citizens that their deposits are safe. Lines outside Greek ATMs, however, have been long all weekend.
Concluding its piece, the FT takes a swipe at leaders across the eurozone, noting that now, with little remaining between Greece and default, it has been seemingly left to Mario Draghi and the European Central Bank to save the day.
“The threat to the euro has always been a soluble problem cloaked in an aura of political impossibility,” the FT writes. “But with each day, both sides seem more willing to indulge in blame shifting rather than constructive engagement. Greece now stands on a precipice. It is increasingly hard to detect the path of retreat.”