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2015年7月 8日 (水)

ギリシャ危機 国民投票は悲劇の幕開けか

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Does Greek national referendum mark beginning of a tragic drama?
ギリシャ危機 国民投票は悲劇の幕開けか

Did the Greek people raise the curtain on a tragic drama?

In the national referendum held in Greece on Sunday on structural reform proposals demanded by the European Union, “no” votes accounted for more than 60 percent of the total, surpassing the affirmative votes by an overwhelming margin.

The rejection of the EU proposals, which were the conditions for resuming financial assistance, has made it more difficult to agree on a bailout package.

Eurozone countries were to discuss how to respond in a meeting of their leaders Tuesday, but an easy compromise would lead to a backlash from their own peoples. Given the deadlock in negotiations, it has become more likely that Greece will fall into a full-scale default and be pressured to decide whether to leave the eurozone.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras characterized the outcome of the plebiscite as a “victory for democracy.” But he was utterly off the mark.

In the first place, it was tremendously problematic that he had asked the people to decide the future course of complicated diplomatic negotiations.

The Tsipras administration abruptly decided to call the national referendum amid negotiations with the EU, allowing for about a week before the plebiscite was held. This was too short a period.

It cannot be overlooked that Tsipras created false expectations among the people that Greece would gain a strong negotiating position to press for concessions from the EU with a “no” vote majority.

Mutual concessions key

Greece has already restricted cash withdrawals from its banks. If the European Central Bank cuts off emergency financial aid, the country will be forced to walk a tightrope as it will face a deadlock in raising cash from banks.

It was irresponsible that Tsipras did not explain sufficiently to the people the possible adverse effects of raising the level of confrontation with the EU.

Greece could seek to survive a fund shortage by issuing a currency of its own, but this would represent the first step toward an exit from the eurozone. It is feared that the value of a currency with less creditworthiness would plunge and drive the country into serious inflation because it relies on imports for many of its daily necessities.

The Greek people should not be driven into a further predicament. Without sticking to an anti-austerity stance, the Tsipras administration should seek to find realistic concessions by July 20, the deadline for redeeming €3.5 billion in government bonds.

For its part, it would be unwise for the EU to shut down the channel for negotiations.

Financial markets continue to feel the adverse effects of the Greek financial crisis, with the Nikkei Stock Average, for example, plummeting more than 500 points momentarily on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Monday.

There is concern that anti-EU political parties will gain strength in Spain and Italy and shake confidence in the euro. Another concern is whether Greece, which has a strategically important position in terms of security, will strengthen relations with Russia or China, thereby heightening geopolitical risk.

To avoid restoking a Europe-originated financial crisis and to prevent it from seriously affecting economic and political stability, the EU must do whatever it can to break the stalemate.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 7, 2015)


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