Five years of crisis, five months of negotiations. Elected in January this year on an anti-austerity programme, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras promised the Greek people he would defend their interests.
Reconfirming a wish to stick with the euro, he asked for an extension of financial aid from the Eurogroup, the finance ministers of the eurozone countries. The Eurogroup agreed to four more months of help if he would enact new reforms.
On 12th May, Greece managed to pay the IMF back 750 million euros. But, without an agreement to continue, the 7.2 billion euros that the country needed to function would remain out of reach.
On the face of things, Tsipras was brimming with confidence:
“We have made many steps, we are in the home stretch, we are close to a deal. This deal will be positive for the Greek economy. This deal will distribute the burden.”
On 4th June, Athens asked the IMF to bundle its payments for the month together for the 30th.
The talks went on, again, to all appearances, optimistically for Tsipras.
“I believe in the next days we will be more close to an agreement. I believe in any case agreement is in sight. But we need to conclude the discussions with a realistic point of view.”
In the Greek parliament, the prime minister’s tone was far less conciliatory. He insisted that Greece’s lenders had to propose a viable solution, and that if they set out to humble or subjugate the country it would produce the opposite effect.
Arriving at the European summit in Brussels a few days ago, Tsipras still looked cheerful, just after a new Greek proposal to the creditors.
Greece's Tsipras presents proposals to Merkel, Hollande and Juncker http://t.co/ON6f7u53Z3— Jamie McGeever (@ReutersJamie) 21 Juin 2015
He said: “After the comprehensive Greek proposals I am confident that we will reach the compromise that will help the euro zone and Greece to overcome the crisis.”
Yet the negotiations did not match his expectations. On 26th June, Greece turned down the lenders’ final offer. Tsipras seemed to appeal to Europe’s better nature.
“The European Union foundation principles were democracy, solidarity, equality and mutual respect. These principles were not based on blackmails and ultimatum.”
tsipras_euI would be proud to have your gov representing me unlike the current irish liars🙆🏼 <a href="http://t.co/ZPwpmRH4L3">pic.twitter.com/ZPwpmRH4L3</a></p>— StephV (SvtigerStephane) 26 Juin 2015
Then the prime minister announced he would put the offer to a referendum, thus passing a decision on the conditions that will be demanded of the people on to them.
In this Spanish language cartoon, a character representing Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, screams a warning: “Watch out! Tsipras has a ballot box!”
Lorsque Tsipras ressuscite la démocratie par le référendum… pic.twitter.com/cVGEJ1Md5f— l'affranchi (@L__affranchi) 30 Juin 2015