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French press review 7 July 2015

Greece and its eurozone members contemplate their fortunes as euro-dyssey looms following massive rejection of creditors' plan to bail Athens out of bankruptcy.


Tragedy and plots often based on myths and archaic epics have been the essence of Greek culture since the 5th century, but the one that looms over the country’s 232-billion-euro debt burden appears on the brink of pushing the country over the cliff and Europe alongside it.

This is the opinion most French commentators express this morning as French President François Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel held a crisis meeting in Paris on Monday ahead of Tuesday’s damage control summit by European Union leaders in Brussels.

“Euro-dyssey”, headlines Libération in Tuesday’s cover page story. According to the paper the victory of the 'No' camp in Sunday’s Greek referendum gives Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras a new arsenal of weapons to negotiate with his country’s creditors. It doesn’t see what concessions the troika and the EU leaders gathering in Brussels for an umpteenth summit on Greece can make to prevent Athens from debt default and eventual exit from the eurozone.

Finding an accord, negotiating an exit or plunging Greece into chaos. These, according to Libé, are the three options Athens is left with, after the 'oxi' or 'No' vote. There is nothing that Tsipras’ electoral trump has guaranteed for the Greek people. Hence Libération’s comparison of the Greek government’s fortunes to the 10-year journey of tragic Greek hero Odysseus who set out to reach his hometown Ithaca following the fall of Troy after the Trojan war.

For Le Figaro, there will be no miracle. Europe, it holds, is ready to see off Greece from the eurozone despite last-minute attempts by the European Central Bank to avert provoking a 'Grexit'. The right-wing newspaper reports that the replacement of the provocative Greek finance minister Yanus Varufakis is a sign of goodwill from Athens. But for the journal, what the Greeks are offering the euro is nothing but “slow poison”. The stakes are very clear, it says: it is either the euro or Greece.

For the Catholic daily La Croix it is not just the Greeks who have their back to the wall but the Europeans as well as they prepare for the crunch talks in Brussels – Greece because Athens must find a way of servicing their debt, while the eurozone creditors stand to lose their credibility and a lot of money if they expel the birth place of democracy from the European Union.

The Communist party daily L’Humanité hails the people of Greece for organising the riposte against the orchestrated bankruptcy of their country. Five years after the first memorandums and their social demolition motorcades, the Greeks have taken their future into their hands following in the foot shoes of the French, the Dutch and the Irish who all rejected the austerity policies formulated by the EU. It urges France to protect and defend the act of bravura and justice by the Greek people.

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