It wasn't even a full 24 hours after Greece raided at least some of the funds of its pension and other public entities in order to make a €310 payment to the IMF, the first of four this month (the balance is 350 million on March 13, 580 million on March 16 and another 350 million on March 20), that the insolvent country resumed doing what it does best: dispensing hollow threats. This time it was its foreign minister and leader of the Independent Greeks party - Syriza's junion coalition partner - Nikos Kotzias, who showed how to bluff like the best of them, when he threatened that "there will be tens of millions of immigrants and thousands of jihadists, if you take out Greece" the minister said on before EU foreign ministers meeting in Riga.
As quoted by enikos, the foreign minister continued his blustery threats saying that "the Western Balkans is not stabilized. Then you have the Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, North Africa. This is a sickle."
The left-wing politician Kotzias also said that "what the Europeans are doping to us is cultural racism...It is a necessity to find another way of behaving toward Greece. It is also a geostrategic necessity. Instead, they chose to crush the Syriza government in its early days...What will this bring?"
The last question was rhetorical, because the answer is the last trump card Greece has: "Right-wing extremism and chaos."
In other words, now that Syriza government, having run out of money as well as all leverage and bargaining power - because clearly it will no longer threaten with a Grexit, no matter how many game theory manuals Varoufakis may have written - its only threat is to warn with a hypothetical worst-case outcome of what will happen to Europe if and when Greece inevitably collapses should Syriza not get even the smallest concessions: a neo-nazi state, which will be a transit point for terrorists into Europe.
And in case that was not enough, in an interview with Agora newspaper on Saturday, the Greek minister of defense Kammenos said that if foreign creditors insist on a hard line toward Greece, the government might be tempted to respond with a referendum. “If [lenders] question the will of the Greek people and of the government, one response would be to carry out a referendum,” adding "those who need to be convinced that “democracy exists are the Germans; suzerainty is over."
As a reminder, it was precisely the threat of a referendum that cost former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou his post several years ago before he was replaced with the Samaras pro-Brussels government.
So how did Europe respond?
Not good. As Reuters reports, first it was European Central Bank governing council member Luc Coene, who said in an interview published on Saturday that Greece must realize there is no other way than to reform, telling Greeks they had been sold "false promises" by radical leftists now in power.
According to the ECB Greece has two choice: hell in Europe, or an even worse hell outside of Europe:
The Belgian central bank chief said that life outside the euro zone would be far worse for Greek people and warned that if Athens wanted to be financed by the euro zone, the ECB and the International Monetary Fund, it had to follow the rules.
Now that the ECB has regained all leverage over Tsipras, it can proceed to dispense with the verbal slaps on the face: "I do not believe there is a radically different way," he told Belgian daily De Tijd. "Syriza has made promises it can not keep," he said, adding that the Greek people "will understand quickly that they were deceived by false promises."
They will indeed, and if Kotsias is right, the next party that will rule Greece is none other than the Golden Dawn neo-nazis.
Like his euro zone colleagues, Coene had a clear message for Greece, saying: "Reform is the only way ... Tell me where the money should come if the Greeks do not want reform and do not want to repay other European countries?"
The issue is that if there is anything the past 5 years have shown definitively is that "reform" in Greece, be it "wiring" tourists to become part-time tax-inspectors, or anything else, is simply impossible.
But completing the Greek humiliation was a report in Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung according to which Euro countries’ finance ministers may decide at meeting Monday to send IMF, ECB, European Commission representatives to Athens, whose role would be to determine the government's liquidity, because nobody in Europe currently has any idea just how much, or little, cash Greece has left.
In other words, the Troika is baaaaaack. But just don't call it that.
Which means that in a few days, there will be a limo driver waiting at the Athens airport with a sign to pick up the delegation from The Institutions Formerly Known As Troika, or TIFKAT. Because, as we noted yesterday, all the Syriza government has achieved is to change the names of the most hated concepts in Greece:
- instead of "Troika" it is now "Institutions"
- instead of "Liquidity" it is now "Cash Flow"
- and instead of "Third Bailout" it is now "Contract for Recovery and Growth of the Greek economy."
Perhaps like with the passage of Obamacare in the US, the Syriza government is just betting it all that the Greek population is indeed that dumb...