Athens' Trump Card

Euclid Tsipras AP
Euclid Tsakalotos and Prime Minister Tsipras.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Greece may take advantage of the refugee crisis to push for more lenient treatment from its creditors.

  • Facts


    • The first review of Greek economic reforms was to happen last October. It has not yet taken place.
    • A planned Greek pension reform will reduce the basic Greek pensions to €384 per month
    • 31 percent of all refugees currently arriving in Greece are children.
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This week was not the first time Euclid Tsakalotos, the Greek finance minister, has visited his German counterpart Wolfgang Schäuble in Berlin.

Mr. Tsakalotos was in the German capital this time last year, albeit an inconspicuous member of the entourage of Yanis Varoufakis, his flamboyant and controversial predecessor in office. Mr. Tsakalotos has since taken over the top job, replacing Ms. Varoufakis at the height of Greece’s drama last year, no doubt much to Mr. Schäuble’s delight.

It was Mr. Tsakalotos who helped steer the Mediterranean country away from the brink of an exit from the 19-nation euro zone, albeit in exchange for another round of tough austerity demands imposed by its neighbors, including Germany. Even a year ago, the powerful German minister had better relations with Mr. Tsakalotos than with Mr. Varoufakis.

Greek-German relations may have improved at a personal level since the height of the crisis last year, but the old problems remain. Greece, yet again, is lagging behind in implementing promised reforms. The first review of the third bailout program, totalling more than €86 billion in financial aid, was supposed to have taken place in October. But Athens has yet to implement many of the measures agreed in last summer’s hard-won deal.

And there’s another wrinkle now. Power relations have shifted in the six months since those all-night bailout talks. German Chancellor Angela Merkel now needs Greece’s help to solve the refugee crisis.

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