Calm defiance giving way to panic as Greek deadline looms
I sat last night with a Greek family and their friends as they heard the news that the Eurozone’s leaders had given a final ultimatum. A deal by Saturday or a specially convened EU summit to prepare for the collapse of the banking system, expulsion from the Eurozone and a “humanitarian aid” package to deal with the inevitable food riots, premature deaths and state failure.
The old took it with equanimity. They believed their government when it said a no vote would strengthen its hand in negotiations for a third bailout. Those who spoke of the way they’d voted had voted no, like 80% of people in the working class suburbs of Athens.
But behind the apparent calm Greeks are getting panicky. There is a rumour mill: vital factories producing medicines or baby milk are rumoured to be closed. Someone rings to check: it’s wrong. People breakdown suddenly in tears, overwhelmed by the stress.
If I give you three stories that were told to me yesterday by this extended group of family and friends, it will explain the pressure Alexis Tsipras is under to do a deal, but not one that humiliates his country.