July 23, 2012
The recent visit of former US President Bill Clinton in Athens cannot be considered as a simple visit. It might be a well-planned decision of the US to put its economic leverage in Europe sixty years after the initiation of the Marshall Plan for the reconstruction of post-war Europe.
The Clinton Global Initiative is a well-respected institution dealing with alleviation and growth projects in the Third World. It is also devoted to the combat of diseases plundering Africa. In addition to that, the former President is using its global influence to support concrete interests around the world dealing in the wider sphere with the strengthening of the US role in global affairs. From that perspective his role is specific and goal-oriented.
His visit in Athens on the 22d of July in a period of awaiting the troika and getting prepared for tough negotiations is not at all accidental. He represents a group of well-established Greek-American entrepreneurs aiming at investing in Greece in order to boost growth and revitalize Greek economy. The group is called Greek Initiative and is endorsed by the Clinton Global Initiative.
Therefore, I would like to stress out the double meaning of this visit:
1. In shortage of immediate and well-organized endeavors by the side of the EU to create a stable environment for investments in Greece, the growth gap tends to be fulfilled by private US-led funds. As long as Greece cannot attract investments with its inflexible fiscal system and its current instability in public finance, and while the European Union is paradoxically stuck in statements of support with no implementation policies, the role of the US though the Greek diaspora will be considered as of paramount importance for the Greek state. Money brings influence and influence defines politics.
2. Clinton is a strong supporter of President Barack Obama. One of the most crucial topics in Obama’s agenda in case of re-election will be the re-framing of the global financial system. And this means that the US will endeavor to strengthen dollar in the global currency influence race by building binding commitments through financial support to overdebted states. If US lends money to European states through bilateral agreements then the European financial and political establishment will experience one more crisis: a crisis of existence.
In other words, if finally dollar starts soaring the European market what would be the real basis upon which the European solidarity is built? If not political and economic, then what? Such questions must definitely concern the European Union, the Commission and the European leaders themselves as solutions of exiting the crisis are diminishing dramatically.
In the case of Greece, the arrival of Clinton and the prospect of investments stemming from outside the EU can also be regarded as a negotiational asset of the Greek government against the troika. In this respect, if Greece and troika are not meant to reach a mutual agreement upon restructuring some critical points of the bail-out plan (i.e. finding alternative resources in spending cuts process and extending deadlines), Greece will be obliged to seek for alternative sources of support. And this might further put at risk both the future of Greece in the Eurozone, but thus the future of Eurozone itself.
In the worst case scenario -that of not finding common ground between the Greek government and the troika- I firmly believe that as the US is indirectly getting involved in the lending-and-growth planning of Greece, any prospect of liquiding Greek economy will be relied on foreign non-European aid. And as rumours stemming from IMF officials talking about exerting extreme pressure to Greece for future loans are increasing, I am convinced that the US position as player of last resort will be strengthened long-term.
Therefore, I repeat: the troika should be more elastic in Greece’s propositions and be less tight in negotiation dealines. The rescue plan in Greece has to be implemented, but deadlines should be pushed further to avoid a domino effect in social and political level. By social level I mean the return of street clashes in autumn, and by political level the fall of the coalition government and the danger of non-governance in Greece.Dimitris Rapidis