ATHENS — Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has sent an invoice to German chancellor Angela Merkel, asking her to cover the costs of the wild post-referendum party that erupted in Greece’s capital after voters rejected a European bailout package that would require more austerity measures.
Around midnight on Sunday night, government officials celebrating in Syntagma Square made a halfhearted attempt to secure funding for the festivities, passing around a collection basket to the tens of thousands of people waving red banners and Greek flags and dancing to techno overlaid with joyful nationalistic vocals. Attached was a note signed by outgoing finance minister Yanis Varoufakis asking revelers to please pitch in. However, the basket returned with a scant €142 ($156), most of it rendered soggy and useless after someone spilled wine on it.
Prime Minister Tsipras was then observed going with several government ministers to a cash machine where they each withdrew the daily limit of 60 euros.
Still, the amount was barely enough to pay the €440,000 ($465,000) bill that was presented by Athens mayor George Kaminis — known to be more of a stickler for tight finances than anyone in the ruling radical-left Syriza party — which included the costs of approximately 12,000 bottles of sparkling wine, beer, and ouzo, as well as increased police presence, celebrity DJ performances, and post-party clean up.
After trying but failing to talk several old friends into giving him “a little something to get by,” according to reports, Tsipras discreetly gave the invoice to a courier who delivered it to Merkel in the early hours of Monday morning while Greek government ministers were still dancing and finishing off what remained of the alcohol. Many in Greece blame Merkel, the de facto leader of Europe, for the harsh austerity measures the county has endured since the economic recession rendered it unable to pay back creditors.
Eleni Panos, who works as a shop clerk in the Thissia neighborhood, believes that it’s only fair that German taxpayers foot the bill for the bittersweet celebration in Greece, saying the party was a direct consequence of bullying by Merkel and other European leaders.
“You can only push a people so far before pride takes over, giving rise to the need jubilantly gather together in a public space, turn up the music, and rhythmically gyrate our financial woes away,” she said.
A spokesperson for the German government says that Chancellor Merkel clasped the invoice for several minutes before sending it along to the European Central Bank, where bank president Mario Draghi promptly had it itemized and sent to the IMF where it will likely change hands for several years before eventually being sent back to Greece.