“For the moment, it looks like the economic picture in Greece is not going to change substantially. I predict that the next bombshell will occur in the political sphere. And, maybe, it has already started.”
I wrote that sentence a week ago while I was putting together this post on Greek politics. Little did I know that the bomb was going to be dropped this week! In some ways, this has diluted the thrust of today’s post except that the issues are even more relevant today as Greece prepares herself for another General Election. So read on.
Unless the Greek people are all complete idiots, which I certainly don’t think that they are, then I cannot believe that they will accept the political stab-in-the-back that Alexis Tsipras and Syriza gave Greece after the Referendum. However, if I am wrong and the Greeks let their politicians off the hook, then the country deserves to be another state of Germany.
If democracy fails to free Greece from their economic chains of bondage, it is because the people let it fail! Then there is nothing more that can be done. All gains achieved up until now, however small, will have been lost. But, the Greek person-in-the-street stood up to their politicians once before and nearly won the day. They can do it again. Bloodied, bruised but not yet completely beaten!
There are now plenty of credible and creative ideas being presented in the public forum as to how the economic situation in Greece could be addressed. This was largely lacking prior to January 2015. So something has already changed. All contributions, from expert and amateurs alike, add to the growing momentum of ideas that give hope and courage for an alternative and better future. My small contribution is to keep spreading the words of change, hope & inspiration.
Since we live in a democratic society, and it is imperative that this change must be brought about peacefully & intellectually, we will have to use the political systems that we have got to achieve these aims. I am not a Lefty or a Marxist or a Libertarian or any other label you wish to choose. In my opinion, these terms have become meaningless to describe the political aspirations of people in a modern, technological world.
Now, I do not wish to actively promote any political party on this blog and it is not my intention to try to persuade people who they should support, politically. I wish to rather focus on the real issues instead of the ideologies.
Therefore, in order to set a bit of a background to a discussion on Greek politics, I thought that I could not really do much better than to present to you the following article written on 7 Feb 2015. In my opinion, the content of the article is far more important than who the author is, but as is usual on this blog, the author’s biography is given.
The author of the article is Thanasis Laskaratos, who represents International Relations for EPAM (United People’s Front). More about EPAM in a later post. All I can find out about Laskaratos is that he is a businessman in Greece involved in the Tourism Industry and that he was an EPAM candidate for the 2014 European Parliament elections (Greek delegation). EPAM got about 50000 votes and did not get a seat.
Syriza’s victory, although not massive, was indeed of historic importance. After 4 years of harsh austerity and humiliations the people finally got rid of PASOK (socialists) and Nea Dimokratia (conservatives), who have been in power since 1974 and have literally looted the country. Syriza’s victory is certainly not the solution to the problem but a necessary step towards the solution.
Greece since 2010 is an occupied country by the IMF, the BCE and the EE through colonial ‘loan facility agreements ‘. These three institutions have been dictating to their local collaborators (PASOK-ND governments) all necessary measures so that they make sure they get back their ‘bail-out’ money. Austerity measures brought about a collapse of the economy, a complete change of the legal country profile and the Greek people at the edge of genocide.
Ever since Greek political parties were divided in two blocks: the pro-troika and the anti-troika. Pro-troika was of course PASOK & ND , as well as lately POTAMI; anti-troika were KKE (the communists), SYRIZA (left) and ANEL (right). SYRIZA was born in 1992 after the secession from KKE on grounds of Maastricht Treaty as a pro-European, left party. Despite its name it’s what one would call ‘’social-democrats’’ and certainly not ‘far left’ or ‘radical left’, as mainstream international media refer to. Syriza was for the Maastricht Treaty, for the euro-zone and only in papers against NATO. It started to gain force after the ‘Squares’ movement’ in 2011 as an alternative to PASOK-ND. Besides Syriza won last elections not because it convinced people of its political positions but essentially because of people discontent against PASOK-ND policies. Another controversial point is that many PASOK- deputies who had voted the first or even the second ‘memorandum’ joined Syriza when they realized that Syriza would be the new winner.
ANEL, on the other hand, were born in 2012 when deputies abandoned Nea Dimokratria denouncing it for treasonous behaviour. ANEL represent the ‘patriotic, traditional right’ and have absolutely nothing to do with ‘far right’ or with the nazi party. They are equally pro-EU, pro-Eurozone and pro-NATO. Given the circumstances the coalition SYRIZA-ANEL is the best option we could have.
As opposition to PASOK-ND governments both Syriza and ANEL never took radical action against the PASOK-ND coup-d’état pretending that solution should come through Parliament, thus legalizing all illegal laws and measures taken by the 2010-2015 Parliament. Syriza won the elections by promising among other things debt repudiation, cancellation of all ‘memoranda’, cancellation of the devastating tax on estate and trial for those who have gained from the country’s bankruptcy. Everybody knew that it was impossible for Syriza in spite of the good will to fulfill those promises because simply all those promises would require full rupture with the very European Union.
The choice of key-ministers of the new government confirmed this lack of will for rupture at once. New finance minister, Mr. Varoufakis, besides from becoming a star overnight, made clear during his public relation European tour that all Greece wants is a different name for the troika and a different name for the ‘memorandum’. No more debt repudiation, no more end of memoranda. He even repeated the same arguments as the previous government by saying that ‘Greece does not want that the people of Europe should pay more for Greece’! Instead of explaining that European tax payers gave money to European banks through Greece and that Greece’s debt is illegal and therefore should not be paid, he made Greek people look like once again as a spoilt child who only asks and never gives back. Besides, rumours have it that Varoufakis is a Soros ‘Trojan Horse’ inside the new Greek government. According to columnist Wayne Madsen: ‘Varoufakis’s background indicates that Greece’s new finance minister is at home and comfortable with the banker elites…Also, Varoufakis’s commitment to work within the IMF and European banking system is obvious from what the Greek finance minister wrote on his website. After calls by American financial writers Paul Krugman and Mark Weisbrot for Greece to follow the example of Argentina and default on its debts and exit the Eurozone altogether, Varoufakis argues that Greece must “grin and bear” the measures imposed on it by the bankers and the German government as a member of the Eurozone. And that means the SYRIZA finance minister surrendered to the whims of the bankers long before SYRIZA’s electoral victory’.
Another controversial person is the new foreign minister, Mr. Kotzias, also former adviser of PASOK governments. Kotzias suggests a bi-zonal, bi-community solution for the Cyprus dispute, thus recognizing the division of the island!! His plan is even worse in terms of Cyprus’ national sovereignty than Kofi Annan plan.
On the contrary, statements about privatizations freeze, riots police, rehire of all laid-off public sector workers, are very well seen and comply with electoral promises. Furthermore, the most pleasant surprise came from Zoe Kostantopoulou, who was elected as new Parliament President. During the inaugurating speech she held yesterday, she sounded to be at the opposite of the ‘spirit of submission’ Tsipras represents. New Parliament President can be considered as a brilliant exception and a hope to the dying political system of Greece.
We’ll be able to come to safe conclusions about new government during this weekend’s programmatic statements, although not much is to expect. Syriza will most probably submit to the EU’s ultimatum because they have neither choice nor any plan B. Even if Greek government decides not to abide with EU, it will be impossible to handle a bank run. On the other hand time is very short to organize a referendum on Grexit.
If Syriza is an interim and a moderate solution for Greece, its people seem to be willing to impose a final solution. Although reluctant for the past four years, the Greek people are now ready to provide full support to the government to say no to EU’s blackmail against all odds. One thing is for sure, the times changed in Greece, and with or without Syriza the Greek people will realize that it’s better off [leaving] the EU and the Eurozone.”