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<nettime> FT: "Sorry, but there is no way you are leaving this room"
nettime's_groving_greporter on Mon, 13 Jul 2015 21:32:37 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> FT: "Sorry, but there is no way you are leaving this room"


<http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/f908e534-2942-11e5-8db8-c033edba8a6e.html>

     Greece talks: 'Sorry, but there is no way you are leaving this room'


The closest Greece has come to leaving the eurozone was at around 6am on
Monday morning, just as dawn was breaking over Brussels.

Alexis Tsipras of Greece and Angela Merkel, the German chancellor,
decided after 14 hours of anguished talks that they had reached a dead
end. With no room for compromise, neither saw any reason to carry on.
Grexit was the only realistic option.

As the two leaders made for the door it was Donald Tusk, the president
of the European Council, who moved to prevent the fatigue and
frustration from triggering a historic rupture for the eurozone.

"Sorry, but there is no way you are leaving this room," the former
Polish prime minister said.

The sticking point was the size and purpose of a privatisation fund to
be backed by sequestered Greek assets. Ms Merkel wanted the €50bn of
sales to be devoted to debt repayments; Mr Tsipras saw that as a
national humiliation that would cede control of assets worth almost a
third of Greek national income. His alternative was a smaller fund,
whose proceeds would be reinvested in Greece.

A compromise was ultimately found after more than an hour discussing
nearly a dozen different structures. It was to be the coda to a weekend
that featured one of the most exhausting and fraught negotiations in a
seemingly interminable crisis that has provided the EU's sternest test.

After almost nine hours of fruitless discussions on Saturday, a majority
of eurozone finance ministers had reached a stark conclusion: Grexit --
the exit of Greece from the eurozone -- may be the least worst option
left.

Michel Sapin, the French finance minister, suggested they just "get it
all out and tell one another the truth" to blow off steam. Many in the
room seized the opportunity with relish.

Alexander Stubb, the Finnish finance minister, lashed out at the Greeks
for being unable to reform for half a century, according to two
participants. As recriminations flew, Euclid Tsakalotos, the Greek
finance minister, was oddly subdued.

The wrangling culminated when Wolfgang Schäuble, the German finance
minister who has advocated a temporary Grexit, told off Mario Draghi,
European Central Bank chairman. At one point, Mr Schäuble, feeling he
was being patronised, fumed at the ECB head that he was "not an idiot".
The comment was one too many for eurogroup chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem,
who adjourned the meeting until the following morning.

"It was extremely hard, violent even," said one participant.

Failing to reach a full accord on Saturday, the eurogroup handed the
baton on Sunday to the bloc's heads of state to begin their own an
all-night session.

As the hours passed and Sunday turned to Monday, the prospect of a
Grexit seemed to grow more probable, participants said, heightening
divisions between sleep-deprived politicians and diplomats that have
developed over six months of mostly frustrating negotiations.

A senior official in the room believed that Germany was now the country
that appeared to be acting in bad faith -- no longer the Greek prime
minister Alexis Tsipras. At one point, Mr Tsipras had to endure a
lecture from Miro Cerar, the Slovenian prime minister, to which Italian
prime minister Matteo Renzi objected.

Eventually, François Hollande, the French president who has battled to
keep Greece in the fold, ushered Ms Merkel and Mr Tsipras into Mr Tusk's
office to finalise a compromise on the privatisation fund. Although they
were ultimately successful, the negotiations appeared to strain the
Franco-German relationship long at the heart of the European project.

"There was in Germany a rather strong pressure for a Grexit. I refused
that solution," Mr Hollande told reporters after a deal was reached.

On the privatisation fund, in particular, Mr Hollande gave backing to Mr
Tsipras. It was a question of "sovereignty," the French leader said.
"Nothing would have been worse than humiliating Greece, Greece didn't
seek charity, but solidarity from the eurozone."

Mr Hollande also insisted that the possibility of a temporary Greek exit
from the eurozone -- a controversial initiative Mr Schäuble had managed
to insert into the eurogroup proposals -- be removed from the final
document.

In the end, some bleary-eyed diplomats emerged unsure who had prevailed
in the marathon session. But they seemed agreed as to who had suffered
most.

"They crucified Tsipras in there," a senior eurozone official who had
attended the summit remarked. "Crucified."

     Anne-Sylvaine Chassany, Alex Barker and Duncan Robinson -- Brussels
     Additional reporting by Stefan Wagstyl

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