aman alexis tsipras 6/26/2015
Tsipras playing a 'very clever game of chicken'
03:01 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Tsipras has played a "very clever game of chicken," says a German newspaper editor

Merkel "knows she does not want to have a dead body on her hands," Josef Joffe says

Joffe: "Nobody wants to be in the position where he cuts his nose to spite his face"

CNN  — 

As it careens from one crisis to the next, many see Greece – and its prime minister, Alexis Tsipras – as a rudderless ship heading aimlessly toward inevitable and total economic collapse.

But the editor of a major German newspaper, Die Zeit, believes Tsipras’ “very clever game of chicken” will almost certainly pay off.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel “knows she does not want to have a dead body on her hands – not in Europe, not in her Europe,” Josef Joffe told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday.

“German threats, and everybody else’s threats, are not credible.”

“There will be no Grexit, neither enforced nor voluntary,” Joffe said, using the shorthand term for a Greek exit from the eurozone. “The simple reason, which many people don’t understand, is that even with a Grexit, Greece still remains in Europe, and therefore it will have access to all kinds of zillions of money. … The only thing that will change is the spigots where the money runs through.”

Two days after Greeks overwhelmingly rejected the austerity inherent to Europe’s bailout offers, Tsipras will discuss the path forward with European leaders on Tuesday.

There appears to be some splintering of resolve among the so-called “institutions” – the Europeans, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

French President Francois Hollande took a somewhat softer tone after meeting with Merkel in Paris on Monday, and the IMF has bucked the line by releasing a preliminary report last week that admitted Greece would likely need the debt relief its government is so desperately trying to get.

“They said, listen, boys and girls, Greece cannot pay,” Joffe said. “If the IMF tells you that, that’s a resounding victory for Tsipras.”

European leaders – despite their, by varying degrees, hardline rhetoric – understand that the country will collapse without an injection of money, he said.

“Merkel knows that; Hollande knows it; and, above all, who else knows this? Tsipras.”

“He has told Europeans, ‘You know what? Come and punish us. You’ll punish yourselves even more. Do you really want to collapse your economy? Do you really want chaos in the streets? Do you want another storm on the Bastille? You don’t, do you?’

“Nobody wants to be in the position where he cuts his nose to spite his face.

“And that’s why it is my considered bet that the Greeks have won this game of chicken. Wait a few days and you’ll see.”