Κυριακή, 4 Οκτωβρίου 2015

MR.TSIPRAS IN NEW YORK!


Listening to Prime Minster Tsipras’s recent discussion with President Clinton, at the Clinton Global Initiative 2015, in New York, I was struck, again, by a few things.

One is his imprudent decision to address a global audience in a language he does not master. If you want to impress a foreign audience, use the language you are most comfortable with – in Tsipras’ case, his mother tongue. Speaking in rather mediocre English, he missed an opportunity to pass on his message effectively. (A minor point: the typically Greek “I believe…” in prefacing every other statement, is rather irritating to foreign ears). It would have been better to use an interpreter.

Secondly, juxtapose Clinton’s pragmatic questions (e.g. about attracting investors) and Tsipras ‘visionary’ waffle about a “Europe that needs to come back to its foundational values”. He does not fully understand that a Prime Minister is not there to lecture (leave it to us Prime Minister!) but to offer pragmatic responses that will appeal to those that matter.

And thirdly, Tsipras’s narrative can’t help but be conflicted. He keeps saying the right things about reform but, at the same time, he criticizes the bailout agreement he has signed, which mandates those reforms he allegedly embraces! Moreover, Mr Clinton does not know Greece well enough or is polite enough to ask his distinguished guest how he reconciles his high rhetoric about the need for reform with typically Greek, old-party politics: why, for example, he considers it necessary for hospital managers or regional education authority heads to be party political appointees, why nepotism is being so alarmingly continued by a government of the left, or why he has appointed as minsters people who you would never trust to run a kiosk. (Look at the CVs of the Education or Interior or Environment Ministers and you will understand). And in yet another display of lack of pragmatism, rather than focusing on what his strategy for Greece is, as invited by Clinton, Prime Minster Tsipras went on to lecture his audience about the need for change in Europe! Mind your country first, Prime Minister! Tell us what you are going to do for your people, before you expand on your vision for Europe!

Overall, Mr. Tsipras finds it difficult to connect with the world at large (especially investors) and he will find it even more difficult to implement an agreement his party so bitterly opposes. He will keep saying the ‘right’ things to the right audience (watch him next time he addresses the Greek farmers) and he will go on sermonizing on the need for Europe to change, while everybody will watch him to see how he enacts an agreement he dislikes. All things considered, if I were an investor, I would be, to put it mildly, rather reluctant.

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