Former French President Francois Hollande writes in his new book Lessons On Power that he told Greek Premier Alexis Tsipras after an anti-austerity referendum in 2015 that, “You won, but Greece lost.”
That was in reference to the poll the Radical Left SYRIZA leader called, asking Greeks to back him in rejecting more austerity measures demanded by the country’s European creditors, only to renege after they gave him what they wanted.
Almost immediately after – even before the vote former Greek finance chief Yanis Varoufakis claimed – Tsipras sought and accepted a third bailout, this one for 86 billion euros ($106.19 billion) he swore he never would, then immediately imposed more brutal conditions he vowed never to do but did and then said it wasn’t his fault because he had no choice.
Hollande said after the referendum result showed a sizeable number of Greeks wanted Tsipras to do as he said and to reject more austerity, he told the Greek leader that European Union officials who wanted Greece out of the Eurozone were empowered, apparently spooking him.
Hollande said that soon after that, and while on a visit to Paris, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, raised, for the first time, the issue of a plan B with preparations for a Greek Eurozone exit, which EU officials had denied ever was considered.
Instead, said Hollande, Merkel preferred to keep Greece in the Eurozone and that Tsipras
called the referendum during negotiations for the third bailout so that he could regain the support of the people, “without yet knowing what to do with it,” indicating the Greek leader was clueless about what to do when he got what he wanted, earning him ongoing ridicule and falling to as low as 10 percent support at one point.