Mayor of London Boris Johnson has described the German proposals for a deal with Greece as “tyrannical”, and has advised the Greek people to “rediscover the spirit of Marathon” and exit the euro.
Eurozone leaders argued long into the night at which has been described as a “brutal summit“, but finally, in the early hours of this morning, tweets emerged from Brussels announcing that a deal had been reached.
Alexis Tsipras, the Greek prime minister, had been holding out against demands from Germany’s finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble that Greece hand over €50 billion worth of state assets for privatisation by entities in Luxembourg.
Writing for the The Telegraph, Johnson remarked that the proposal was: “breathtaking in its candour and brutality. It marks a new departure in modern European diplomacy; indeed, at first I thought it must be a spoof”. He continued:
“These Greek state assets may be tarnished, they may be indebted, but they belong to the Greek people; and now the 72-year-old Schäuble is seriously proposing that this family silver should be taken and sold by the Germans. Why the Germans? Because it is obvious from Schäuble’s proposals that he has complete contempt for the Greeks’ ability to run their own affairs.”
Referring to the text of the document, which calls for a “capacity-building and depoliticizing” task force for “for proper administration of the program”, Johnson says:
“The arrogance is amazing. What does he mean by “capacity-building”? He means sending in natty-jacketed Eurocrats to take over the country. What does he mean by “depolitizising”? He means telling Greek voters and politicians to get stuffed, because it is the Germans who are now running the show…
“…The message from Berlin is clear: either we take over the economic government of Greece, or we kick Greece out of the eurozone – and what is even more astonishing is that no one, in any other European country, is rallying to the side of the Greeks.”
Johnson says if it were him, he would “tell Schäuble to get stuffed. Five years ago, I said they should go for freedom, and I think the same today. What have they gained, by staving off the inevitable? More unemployment, more misery, more poverty.”
But he concedes that they are unlikely to do so. “The tragedy of modern Greece is that they don’t really trust themselves – any more than Schäuble does – to run their own affairs. There are still large public majorities for staying with the euro, for sticking with nurse – in spite of the toxic medicine she dispenses. I expect that the agony will go on, with endless deadlines and fudges and semi-disguised bailouts.”
It is still not clear whether Greece will go with the deal. A Greek official told AFP “We don’t have a deal because two big issues remain open – the IMF role and the Luxembourg €50 billion fund. The rest is OK but not very OK. With a gun to your head, you would say OK too.”
The Greeks have said that they don’t hold anywhere close to €50 billion in assets, suggesting that the best they can offer is €17 billion worth. But European leaders have made it clear that the price to be paid for failing to come up with the goods will be expulsion from the Euro.
“These are the most brutal negotiations I have ever seen,” said one experienced EU diplomat. “There is an element of humiliation that will poison the atmosphere for years to come.”
Johnson concludes: “No one can read that German paper, and conclude that the EU is still meant to be an association of sovereign nation-states. These Schäuble proposals are tyrannical. They should be bitterly resisted.”