‘Tying up economies like Germany & Greece was doomed to fiasco’
RT:In a strongly-worded statement, Germany's Finance Minister has accused the Greek government of doing “nothing since it came to office.”Do you think this is indicative of the EU's level of trust in Athens?
Jon Gaunt: I think they have been playing a game of cat and mouse, and the Greek PM played what he thought was his trump card and obviously now he has to capitulate on some of the things he said. I think the relationships have broken down but it just sums up what’s wrong with the EU. I’m somebody who is ever so glad that the UK never joined the euro, and I’m certainly glad that we are not part of this complete fiasco and it is an absolute fiasco. The idea of tying Germany’s economy or the UK’s economy to the economy of somewhere like Greece - it was always going to end like this. And why we are allowing it to prolong? We should allow Greece to go. It needs to go back to the drachma and it needs to devalue and then hopefully it can rebuild itself from there. But it’s the beginning of the end of the EU, that’s what I’m hoping for anyway. It’s all nonsense.
RT:Why should Greece get away with it when other countries - like Italy for example - also have been through a lot in recent years?
JG: Absolutely. My daughter’s got an Italian boyfriend and he was making exactly that point a few days ago. It will be a domino effect across Europe. The simple bottom line is – Greece owes this money, we all know they can’t pay it all back but austerity is here. Greece must play its part. Whereas what’s happened is this Greek leftist government have tried to play games and thought the EU wouldn’t be strong enough to push it through, it would appear that after this idea of having this nonsense referendum… Let’s face it - it’s not even going to get all the referendum papers printed and out to the outlying islands. This isn’t a democratic referendum and the Germans have clearly said “Ok, if that’s the way you want to behave, to be like a naughty child, you go to bed and we’ll think about it again tomorrow, we will talk about it then”. And that’s the only way to deal with them because this idea that the Greek people can decide, it’s not up to the Greek people. Are we going to have a referendum right across Europe then? Are the Italians going to be allowed not to pay what they owe? Are their austerity cuts still going to be in place whilst the Greeks get away with it? I don’t think so.
RT:Earlier Alexis Tsipras pointed out that his country wouldn’t be choked out of the eurozone. Was it a bluff?
JG: He might be choking on behalf of the Greek people and the idea that the Greek people can decide whether or not they are going to pay back the money is marvelous, isn’t it? They are bound to vote for it, they are not turkeys; they are not going to vote for Christmas, are they? So he is obviously going to get the vote he wants but it won’t make a blind bit of difference. I think the Germans in particular have lost patience. Where it goes after that – I don’t know.
RT:If they lost patience are we going to see a deal then? Can the Greeks work with the Germans?
JG: That’s the problem; once you get to this kind of brinkmanship started by the Greek government you’ve got a real problem. How do you draw back from here? It’s like any negotiation, again going back to the idea of a negotiation even with a child. You can’t just use the big stick; you’ve got to have a bit of carrot. In a deal - a business deal, a government deal like this - everybody is going to come out thinking they’ve got something out of it whereas what’s happened now has become a face off. I think there is only one inevitable conclusion which is that Greece will default again and Greece will leave the EU.
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