Greece debt crisis: Could it all fall apart for Tsipras?

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Consumer buys cheese at Athens market (30 May)Image source, AP
Image caption,
Greece is facing a series of big payments to the International Monetary Fund, starting this Friday

This could be a crucial week for Greece.

You've probably read that sentence somewhere every week since the end of January.

And yet it still holds true. Because this really could be a crucial week for Greece, as the money continues to run out and further payments to the International Monetary Fund loom large. The next one - €300m; £215m - is due on Friday.

Furthermore, at the end of this month, Greece's current disputed bailout agreement with its international creditors expires.

And without some kind of deal, there won't be another one.

Greece's debt repayment schedule over the summer:

There are suggestions that progress towards an agreement is being made.

The experts are hard at work. There have been conference calls between German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

But every time the Greek government expresses optimism that a deal is within reach, it gets slapped down from one European capital or another.

It's not enough, it isn't serious.

'Technocratic monstrosity'

Image source, AP
Image caption,
Alexis Tsipras accuses the EU of making absurd demands

So, in Athens, Mr Tsipras has chosen this moment to take the gloves off.

In an article in Le Monde this weekend, he lambasted the institutions formerly known as the troika for making absurd demands.

It appears, he writes, that "a new European power is being constructed", a "technocratic monstrosity" with Greece as its first victim, based on "harsh punishment and mandatory austerity".

Greece, he argues, has made serious concessions. But other forces are working towards "the split and division of the eurozone, and consequently of the EU".

Part of his criticism is directed at the IMF; part of it at hawks in Berlin. Mr Tsipras's left-wing party, Syriza, is learning the hard way the limits of its democratic mandate.

It has been clear for some time that a government led by the Coalition of the Radical Left is not business as usual. Even so, for a serving prime minister, Mr Tsipras's language is striking indeed.

It illustrates the depths of the dilemma he now faces.

The European Commission says it is trying to play a "mediating role" and it is appealing for unity. But it often appears to be caught between a rock and a hard place.

So where is all this heading?

It's really hard to judge. It may well produce a messy short-term deal that will prevent Greece going bankrupt for now.

Beyond that, all bets are off. And there's certainly a chance that it could all fall apart for Greece, either by accident or design.