The Greek Thriller

Humanite 6.7.2015

It is understood that referendum of 5th July in Greece and the next, ongoing round of negotiations with European institutions, have gained the lion’s share of interest for two weeks now.
Although nothing solid has been achieved until this time, talks in Euro Group continue, a summit meeting of 19 countries of Eurozone is expected during the day (Sunday 12.7.2015) and the summit of 28 EU member-states is said to be cancelled.
That last (cancellation) can be interpreted as a sign that Grexit is not an option anymore.
Meanwhile, the German “idea” of a temporary Grexit (for five years) has been characterized ridiculous by several EU members.
At the same time, Finland’s minister of economy has come up with a decision from his country to negotiate nothing but an exit of Greece.

It is certain that there is no easy or painless solution for the Greek people (a relative article in The Conversation here) , 61, 3% of whom voted NO and showed that they are fed up with and determined to resist austerity, which Noam Chomsky considers a Class War.
On the other hand, it has become common knowledge that EU (which is quite different thing or notion from Europe) is rotting because of its political, structural, ideological and social problem caused by strict neo-liberal policies.
The decay offers way to “euro-skepticism” which, unfortunately, is supported by extreme right wing nationalists and racists.
If there is a “healthy” solution to EU’s problems it is certain that it cannot be induced and launched by misanthropes (an interesting article about the notion by TeleSur here) of any kind (like Christian-democrats of Germany or fascists in France, Greece, Denmark, Finland etc.)
Although that it is unfounded and kind of racist to attribute behavioral properties to entities such as nations, the same way that Greeks have been repeatedly accused of not working much (laziness), the “hard working” Germans have been historically proved as obsessed to impose their (sour) way of narrow-thinking, living, ruling or working to other states – either by wars or by financial ruling and deprivation.

On the other hand, other European leaders (when they manage to extricate from German “rules”), they support Greece on an ethical, diplomatic or political level.
This is the case of France, even if Francois Hollande is just trying to show his own and his country’s political importance within EU and to prove wrong whoever claims that he appears more as a Merkel’s follower than a strong politician.
European people from their part, have never stopped to support Greece both as a “cause” and as a reflection of their own future.
Sadly, the word solidarity has become the quinessence of hipocricy of EU institutions and a testament to that is the try of european officials to stop IMF’s report which says that Greek debt is not viable and that is should be reduced or restructured.

It is worth wondering if Greece would have recovered by now from a default five years ago.
It is certain though that they have not recovered, quite the opposite, with austerity measures, with huge loans to banks and not to the people or to development and with authoritarian policies of EU and IMF.

While Greek “thriller” is underway, the world is spinning and life goes on, hopefully,  although this is not the case everywhere.
So, hopefully, we shall be back with a review of the week.

Thoughts on Greek Referendum

GReferendum

On Sunday 5th July, Greeks will vote in a referendum. They will have to vote Yes or No, as it is the case for any referendum.
The subject is the whole set of proposals made by “institutions” (i.e. EU, ECB and IMF, the lenders) to Greek government.
Here are some thoughts on the overall picture:

– The proposals-terms set by the institutions are the “product” of five month-long negotiations with Greek officials. During these negotiations the Greek government has changed several times their own proposals and counter-proposals. Nevertheless, they have insisted, at least, in refusing measures on cuts and reductions of pensions and on further deregulation of labor rights.
– Amendments on Greek proposals have led to an indirect acceptance of several measures of austerity which initially had been rejected.
– After each retract and reviewed proposals of Greek government, the lenders have either rejected them or have answered with tougher demands.
– Sy.Riz.A (Coalition of Radical Left), the main governmental party, is pro-European and advocates reforms inside EU for the benefit of the people, while it claims that EU has substantially deviated from its founding principles.
– Although named radical and consisting of moderate lefts (even social-democrats) as well as communists, Syriza stands for parliamentary (bourgeois) democracy with left principles.
– Greek government has been obliged by circumstances (pressure from lenders) to leave apart its elections program such as: Raise of minimum wage, more fair distribution of wealth as well as burdens, abolish of charges imposed on poor and middle class, tackle of humanitarian crisis, fight against corruption and tax avoidance, respect of labor rights etc.
– Internal opposition has repeatedly blamed government for not applying their program and for having lied to the people. Opposition implies that it is not possible to materialize such principles and promises because they oppose to lenders’ demands which promote development (as perceived with neo-liberal terms).
– Expanding requirements of lenders are in fact consistent and representative of neo-liberal EU and IMF’s principles.
– Lenders also press for privatizations of state property, which previous governments have partly executed in most cases under pressure and therefore without sufficient programming and with little or no profit.
– Lenders’ more recent demands (among others) include reduction of defense spending, at the same time when both EU and NATO manufacture additional “threat” from North (FYROM – article TWTP) apart from the “traditional” Eastern and in the middle of  several west induced turbulence in the area of eastern Mediterranean and Middle East.
– Although reluctantly and in contradiction with party’s principles, Mr. Tsipras’ government has showed its willingness to reach an agreement and has accepted to continue privatizations, to keep contributions through taxes (even on law incomes) and to increase VAT rates.
– Greek citizens appear to support country’s staying inside EU and euro zone and a strong propaganda is exercised by the Media and by conservative circles to this direction.
– Greeks are also tired after five years of austerity, so-called negotiations which have always led to dead ends and more cruel measures in return of receiving loan installments.
– Greek people have suffered a lot (to the limits of exhaustion) and the vast majority of middle and poor class experiences a severe degradation of life quality.
– Any production process and consuming (apart from basic necessities) has stopped and the one remaining productive sector of tourism will be mutilated if increased VAT would be imposed. Even banks’ only service provided to consumers is accepting deposits and sending funds abroad when at the same time they receive expensive capital from ELA.
– Even faint attempts of the government to cooperate with other countries such as Russia (well, especially Russia), has met hostility from EU and West in general.
– At the same time, lack of real negotiations of previous governments together with punitive austerity policies and declarations from the part of the lenders has created a sense of humiliation.
– The main request of elections on 25th January which elected Syriza has been the discharge from the terms-measures of memoranda.
– Since then, all negotiations proved fruitless initially because Greece requested change of policies, suggested less recession and claimed sovereignty.
– In the meantime, almost any attempt of government to rule inside the country and the parliament has been rejected by the lenders. In fact, lenders blackmailed and argued that laws against their will would be considered as “unilateral actions” and would lead to failing of negotiations and funding refusal.
– They have also rejected or discouraged any negotiation concerning reduction of the non viable debt.

– From their part, lenders have exercised stronger pressure which a progressive government could not accept (as previous governments of liberal ideology did).
– After five months, after strong contradictions inside Syriza and from Greek people, after extended propaganda and cause of fear by the Media and following a repetitive undermining of negotiations by the lenders, Greek Prime Minister and the Greek government decided a referendum. Referendum will call Greeks to say Yes or No to certain proposals of lenders which concern reforms, debt viability and financing needs of the country.
– During parliamentary voting on referendum, Communist Party of Greece has submitted a proposal which suggests that the Greek citizens should vote Yes or No both to lenders’ and to government’s proposals and to releasing from EU. They say that government’s proposals are in fact a new memorandum and imply recession and measures against the people.
– Right wing, on the other side, claim that the question at stake consists decision on staying or exiting from EU and euro-zone, although government has made clear that the meaning is anything but that.
– If presidium of Parliament had accept the proposal of Communist Party, any ambiguity (manufactured by the Media and the conservative opposition) would be clarified and people would also decide on government’s measures.

– Mr. Tsipras’ government and party envision reforms inside EU and targets to empower movements and parties born by the wave of massive discontent in south-European countries due to inequalities and measures of austerity.
– While parliamentary and political processes are taking place inside Greece, while people face a major decision and while they are going to exercise an important democratic right, “institutions” continue to blackmail with indirect threats, with ambiguous statements and with deprivation of banks’ liquidity, causing reasonable fears to Greek people.
– It is useful to remind here that Greeks, unlike other nations, have never decided themselves about Greece’s participation in EU or euro-zone.

As a conclusion, if lenders had made half of Greek government’s retreats and compromises, a decent and mutually beneficial agreement could have been achieved.
Now, it’s up to the people to consider and decide on their future, with the expectation and the belief that by empowering their government new opportunities will emerge for their country.

Also published in Reader Supported News