The noise around Greece is getting cacophonous, as each side poses and postures. The skirmishes have been rather frivolous so far, symptomatic of the two sides sussing each other out. The serious discussion is set to begin today at the European Council, but it will take weeks, if not months, to reach substantial conclusions about the future of Greece and, consequently, the Eurozone and the European Union itself.
It may be too early to pick winners, but Greece has fought a good fight. Syriza and its youthful leader Tsipras have kept their cool under unprecedented pressure. He, together with his charismatic Finance Minister Varoufakis, have come out as passionate pro-Europeans and have made many, often sensible and responsible, concessions to European partners by moving centre. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of these partners, given that Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the president of the Eurogroup and Wolfgang Schäuble, the German Finance Minister, have been bullying, bitter and often irresponsible with their comments. Fortunately, both are just supporting actors in the Greek drama.
Greece’s fate will not turn on technicalities, but it will be the outcome of a ‘great game’ that has now begun. The European Council of leaders and the United States will provide the political anchor with the Commission, the IMF, the OECD and the ECB being the main economic actors. NATO will bring in the security angle and Russia, though absent, will undoubtedly loom large in negotiations.