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Tsipras: A Trail-Blazer for the Next Generation

10/07/2015 10:05 BST | Updated 09/07/2016 10:59 BST

I have no opinion on the Greek crisis. In fact, all us lay people should stop spouting our under-qualified explanations and inaccurate predictions. Because, well, it's simply more complicated than that.

As a new journalism intern in Brussels, I have been completely immersed in the thick of it. By the end of my second week, I'll have covered two European summits and read pretty much every Tweet with the hashtag 'Greece' in existence. The more I learn, the further I find myself from choosing either team to support.

I imagine myself round a table with the European creditors, and I can empathise. They have lent a friend some money; he is failing to pay it back.

The bronzed and blindingly white-toothed Finish finance minister, Alexander Stubb, has explained his position simply. His country has €5bn committed to Greece. That's 10 percent of its whole budget. He cannot afford, and resolutely will not allow, the Greek debt a trip to the barber's.

And the Spaniards dutifully obeyed the European's austerity measures when they were in trouble. Why should their Mediterranean comrades be treated differently?

Plus, as Ms. Merkel rationalised on Tuesday, sitting in a press conference and looking as unmoved as usual, we don't just have the sovereignty of one country to contend with, but the sovereignty of 18 other democracies too. What about the will of the 300,000 Eurozone tax-payers outside Greece who stand to lose money?

But then, in my day dream, I apparate to Syntagma Square. Heady Athenians are crowding the plaza, protesting fervently against the cuts and the uncertainty that they have been subjected to for five years. There is a silver-mopped pensioner slumped on the pavement outside a bank, sobbing because this is his fourth rejection of a withdrawal request.

The Greeks' charismatic, some say roguish Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, spoke plainly on these people's behalves in the European Parliament yesterday morning.

"As a sovereign government, we have the right to choose where we put our tax burden to achieve the objectives in front of us. It is the right of a government to decide to tax businesses and not to cut pensions."

So there, in 280 words, is my over-simplified summation of a dilemma that has been puzzling leaders and left economists scratching their heads for five years.

But whilst I cannot pick a side, there is one thing I think we can learn from this affair.

It is true many would scorn at Tsipras and his party's approach. Few would encourage a desperate country with failing banks to call its potential saviours 'terrorists' or turn up to an 11th hour meeting with no proposals and some notes scrawled on hotel paper.

But whether you agree with his brazen manner or not, it is impossible to deny that Tsipras is setting an example to our generation - the next generation of leaders.

He was elected on a clear mandate, and he has stuck to it. The Greek people chose him to fight a cause, and he is committed to delivering. The outcome of Sunday's EU Summit remains to be seen, but so far he has not cracked on the rack. He's pushing his jailors, and his country, to the brink because his integrity is not open for negotiation.

If you're a student in Britain, this style of leadership will be something alien to you. We've grown up with politicians who make one vague promise in their manifesto, then go wherever the wind blows them once in parliament. Unlike the casually open-collared Tsipras, their passion is probably strangled by their silk ties, like nooses around their necks.

I needn't name names. We know them all too well.

In some respects, with the rise of the fringe parties in the UK, this monotonous landscape is changing for the better. Sturgeon and Farage are trail-blazing. Now, the former's victory in Scotland stands to be a good test of whether her mandate can withstand the pressures of power.

The outcome of this Hellenic crisis will probably stroll along, another five years and fifty summits later, sauntering with a glass of Ouzo in one hand and a kebab in the other.

But whatever this outcome, Tsipras will be written into history, as either a political genius or an insolent and hot-headed fool. But even come the worst, at least the Captain can say he went down with his ship, hot head held high.