No matter how many times someone visits the White House the feeling of awe never departs, that overpowering feeling of being in the historic decision making center of the American Empire.
And this past April 4 it was no different.
Both US President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden hosted – again, and for the last time – a reception in honor of the Anniversary of 1821, which is also an occasion for praising the Greek-American community.
Obama is an undeniably gifted politician. And our Archbishop, spoke well, also.
Also present was a dignified young deputy Minister of Deputy Economy, Development and Tourism. Last year Yanis Varoufakis showed up…without a tie!
On now to deeper matters. The ceremony coincided with the leaking of a conversation between IMF officials – more below (and see my precious commentary).
So, we learned at the reception, regarding that affair, the following:
First, that Biden spoke with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras by phone – presumably on a secure line – for 45 minutes.
It is standard practice on such anniversaries for conversations to take place. But for 45 minutes?
It definitely transcended the boundaries of congratulations in the context of national holidays.
Second, what was actually said between Biden and Tsipras can be grasped from Obama’s statements to reporters, who made it clear, first, that the IMF is not going anywhere, and secondly, that Tsipras must immediately make the tough decisions regarding reforms.
It should have been crystal clear that US would not accept the elimination of the IMF from the Quartet of institutions overseeing the Greek crisis because through it – the US is the biggest contributor of funds to the IMF – it exerts influence in the EU.
And indeed its intervention in critical moments has repeatedly saved Greece from expulsion from the Eurozone. And the IMF is also pressuring Germany to accept a haircut on the Greek debt.
These messages, together with the international reactions – see the lead editorial in the Financial Times – reveal that Greece – and Tsipras – are now even more isolated.
Finally, there is another serious issue that requires our attention.
Yiannis Roubatis, the head of EYP – in the name of transparency I must reveal that he is an old colleague – made a statement supposedly attempting to absolve that department of responsibility for the eavesdropping on the IMF staff teleconference. It does not – evidently and strangely enough – constitute a rebuttal. The opposite:
“The National Intelligence Service – Ethniki Ypiresia Pliroforion, EYP “operates on the basis of Greek law, which always requires a prosecutor’s order in order to examine criminal activities or other threats.”
What does that tell you?