A New Beginning for Greece?

In just a few weeks, Greece’s prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, went from being a staunchly anti-austerity, defiant would-be euro zone jilter to a bailout-embracing, leftist-purging premier. And, on Saturday, after he formally replaced some disloyal members of his Syriza own party in the Greek cabinet, Tsipras ordered the country’s banks to open for business on Monday.


“The move had been widely expected after the European Central Bank agreed to re-open the emergency credit lines which the tottering Greek banking sector needs to survive,” Reuters noted. While limits remain—foreign transfers are still banned and Greeks can still only withdraw 420 per week—the development shows Greece is starting the process of getting back to business with new bailout talks beginning this week.


More surprisingly, the Greek government also pledged to raise €50 billion in a privatization push. To achieve this mark (or at least attempt to), the AP reported, the government will “sell government assets and allow for private development of state-owned property.” Given where Tsipras started in January, this change of tune is something akin to Dylan not only going electric, but also endorsing the Vietnam War, all while under duress.


Among those saying that the reforms will never work are Tsipras’s erstwhile allies. On Saturday, former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis told the BBC that the European demands on Greece will “go down in history as the greatest disaster of macroeconomic management ever.”


For now though, the re-opening of the banks carry a symbolic weight, even if the act only makes a small difference. “This will improve the image of the economy for Greeks inside the country,” one University of Athens professor told Bloomberg. “It’s just the beginning and a more ambitious option wasn’t possible.”