9 March 2015

Since it came to power, the SYRIZA-Independent Greeks coalition has effectively written the textbook of how not to negotiate in Europe. Irrespective of whether one agrees with them on substance, they spend too much political capital on pointless posturing and divisive rhetoric. However, despite the lack of success so far, it appears that some in Athens are now seeking to ramp up the rhetoric as opposed to dialing it down.

At a meeting of Independent Greeks MPs yesterday, party leader and Defence Minister Panos Kammenos argued that “If they hit out at Greece then they should know that the migrants will get [travel] papers and go to Berlin.” He also reportedly added that if there were any members of the self-proclaimed Islamic State among these migrants, than Europe would only have itself to blame due to its behavior towards Greece.

Given the recent spate of Islamist terror attacks in Europe and the sensitive debate about immigration and Islam in Germany, these comments will not exactly make it easier for Berlin to sell ‘European solidarity’ to increasingly sceptical German voters.

Coming on top of Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis’ interview with Italian daily Corriere della Sera in which he suggested that there could be a referendum if Greek proposals on debt restructuring and investment were rejected by other Eurozone countries – which would, despite his protests to the contrary, be a de facto referendum on euro membership – this only reinforces the perception that the new Greek government is amateurish and lacks a coherent strategy.

Ironically, Kammenos’ comments came to light just as his German counterpart Ursula von der Leyen told Deutschlandfunk that “a European army is the future”. Good luck with that…