zerohedge, Apr 23, 2015 — http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-04-23/greek-bank-will-write-€20000-debt-poverty-stricken-borrowers-greece-uses-russian-piv
Greek Bank Will Write Off Up To €20,000 In Debt For “Poverty-Stricken” Borrowers
… earlier today (23.04.2015) Greek FinMin Yanis Varoufakis told a French magazine that the risk that Greece would have to leave the euro if it has to accept more austerity is no bluff, saying that no one could predict what the consequences of such an exit would be.
Or, back to square one, which as we explained in February, is a battle of leverage: is the threat to Europe from a Grexit higher than the threat to Greece from ending up without funds.
In a conversation with philosopher Jon Elster conducted at the end of March and published in France’s Philosophie Magazine, Varoufakis, a specialist in game theory, said this was not the time to bluff over Greece’s debt talks.
“We cannot bluff anymore. When I say that we’ll end up leaving the euro, if we have to accept more unsustainable austerity, this is no bluff,” Varoufakis is quoted as saying.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called for a speeding up of work to conclude a reform-for-cash deal with euro zone creditors to keep his country afloat after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday.
The leftist Greek premier met the conservative German leader a day before euro zone finance ministers meet in Riga to review progress – or the lack of it – in slow-moving negotiations between Athens and its international lenders. (…)
The increasing pivot by Greece toward the Kremlin has also been extensively covered here, most recently in the form of a near-agreement between Athens and Gazprom to launch the Turkish Stream pipeline, a deal that would also see Russia giving Greece a €5 billion loan. It is precisely the threat that Russia will bypass Ukraine entirely and provide all of Europe’s gas via the Turkish Stream, that has finally gotten Europe’s, and America’s, attention.
According to the Telegraph’s Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, “the US is scrambling to head off a Greek pipeline deal with Russia, fearing a disastrous change in the strategic balance of the Eastern Mediterranean as Greece’s radical-Left government drifts into the Kremlin’s orbit.”
Ernest Moniz, the US Energy Secretary, said his country is pushing for an alternative gas pipeline from Azerbaijan that would help break the stranglehold that Russian state-controlled firm Gazprom has on European markets.
“Diversified supplies are important and we strongly support the ‘Southern Corridor’ to bring Caspian gas to Europe,” he told a group of reporters on the margins of CERAWeek oil and gas forum in Houston. He insisted that it was vital to uphold “collective energy security” in Europe.
The concern is that Syriza’s flirtation with Moscow goes beyond normal diplomacy and may evolve over time into a strategic shift, causing Nato’s Eastern flank to unravel, and dooming any chance of maintaining a united EU stance against Mr Putin.
The Greeks know this. They seem determined to extract the maximum political leverage from the new Cold War. *
How this all plays out is still unclear with constantly moving pieces and negotiations in flux, although with Greece having run out of money and forced to impose soft capital controls **, two things are certain: a conclusion will have to be reached soon and should Greece complete its pivot toward Russia, everything in Europe will change, and in this case we wholeheartedly agree with the Greek finmin’s assessment that “anyone who pretends they know what would happen the day we’ll be pushed over the cliff is talking nonsense.”
* Ambrose EVANS-PRITCHARD: US alarmed by Greek energy alliance with Russia — American pushes for an alternative gas pipeline from Azerbaijan that would help break the stranglehold that Russia has on European markets; The Telegraph, Apr 23, 2015: URL: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/11559497/US-alarmed-by-Greek-energy-alliance-with-Russia.html