(See Alex Christoforou's video commentary inside.) Why did Ukrainian President Zelensky appear before the Greek Parliament, with a Nazi soldier from Ukraine's Azov Batallion? Have Ukrainian Nazis grown tired of fighting a hopeless war in the background, while Zelenski is lionised, and now seek the limelight and recognition for their sacrifices? Zelensky described the soldiers appearing with him as courageous, noting the Greek origins of one of them.
With his unusual breath of geopolitical and historical knowledge, Alex Mercouris explores the recognition of Donbass Republics from the point of view of the West, Russia, and Greece. He points out that this is not the first time that borders have been changed unilaterally, and notes two precedents executed by the west: 1.
This little-known documentary contains rare and compelling footage of Greek villages and Greek partisans during World War 2. It also interviews male and female partisans who survived a series of international betrayals. In 1940 Mussolini attacked Greece from its colony of Albania. The attack was repulsed and the Greeks conquered one third of Albania in their counter attacks. At the time, Greece was Britain's only ally against Nazi Germany in Europe. (France Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Luxumbourg had all been conquered.) Four years later, Britain savagely turned on the same heroic Greeks who had resisted the Italians and subsequently fought against their Nazi German-allied occupiers. It was only possible for the British to succeed because the communist ELAS-Partisans trusted the Greek Communist Party (KKE).
After they landed in October 1944, the British pretended to arrest former Greek collaborators and saved them from furious Greek crowds in Athens. The former collaborators were 'imprisoned' in a hotel overlooking the central Athens. During one of the protests by Athenians against the British, the 'arrested' former collaborators opened fire on the Athenian crowds, killing many.
This provoked a ferocious fightback against the British by the ELAS-Partisans. So fierce was their fight that the British were forced to get reinforcements from the Italian front and from Belgium, where they were fighting the German Ardennes offensive. However, the communist Greek KKE, under Stalin's orders, then agreed to completely disarm and return to their homes in the suburbs of Athens and elsewhere. This was under the pretext of recognising the British puppet forces as the legitimate national Greek army.
In the suburbs of Athens many former ELAS fighters became victims of gangs of former collaborators. Many ELAS fighters were imprisoned by the British and their puppets.
In 1946 those ELAS fighters who had fled to the mountains, and many more, who had escaped from Greece, restarted the civil war against the Greek dictatorship. From 1946-1948 the ELAS partisans (who had changed their name to the Democratic Army). With heroism and brilliant leadership, they outfought superior numbers of government forces, with many from the government forces defecting to the Democratic Army. However, the Greek Government started to overcome the Democratic Army, now with the aid of United States military 'advisors' and the CIA, and from the same source, the provision of war planes capable of dropping napalm, a fearsome new weapon of the time. The Democratic Army was further hamstrung by instructions from the KKE leadership to engage in conventional warfare rather than guerilla warfare, thus enabling the government to more effectively use its numerical and logistic superiority against the Democratic Army partisans. The fighting ended in 1949, when the last of the Democratic Army partisans fled across the border into Albania. From Albania, many were granted 'exile' in the Soviet Union.
Neighbours squabbling over the back fence. The english language NYT newspaper reports sham dogfights daily between Greek Mirage fighters and Turkish F-15s. A NATO wargame and cyber-wargame around Lesbos was cancelled due to a Greek-Turkey squabble. Turkey still claims all the Aegean islands slap-bang up against their coast. No-one remarks on the irony of 50,000 muslim economic migrants camped up on Lesbos and Samos. "Inhuman racist treatment" scream the UN & liberal left cosmopolitans. But there is silence on the million or more criminal invaders, aka undocumented aliens, camped up in Turkey, in far worse conditions. My. Refugees in Turkey don't even have access to a lawyer! The shame of it!
A lot of people like Europe, but I feel uncomfortable as a grey tourist. Long haul Muslim airlines. How to enjoy yourself with dreadful coffee, the country bankrupt, and everyone spending all day & night, sitting around in cafes. Kalamata.
DESPERATE for a newspaper fix I found the only shop in this city to sell foreign language papers -(including Charlie Hebdo). I bought a paper New York Times with Greece supplement. I like the NYT long format thoughtful articles. The richest city on earth can afford to have progressive liberal feelings towards refugees and the downtrodden.
Unemployment in Greece officially 28.5%, youth rate way higher. Local people want to go back to their own Drachma, but liberal cosmopolitan elites and left politicians are resisting. The next ECB, IMF bailout coming up. Basic wage to be reduced to 680 eu per mth, in reality local people here say 200 lower.
NYT reports USA unemployment rate lower at 4.7%. Unemployment claims near 44-year low.
"At the same time, a broader measure of unemployment - which includes the millions of Americans who have given up looking for work or who are working part-time but would prefer full-time jobs - dropped to 9.2% last month but is still high given how tight the labor market looks otherwise."
So similar to Australia.
The old yacht (needs TLC) I came to see is lovely and thoughtfully designed. Not sure I want to restore, and spend, spend just to be a lazy expat cruising the islands. Although thats what I'm pretending to be.
Huge mountains ring Kalamata. The highest 7200 ft. Migration. Illegal migration. Seems equally impenetrable. Europe, The Med, the Middle East so vast, complex, historic. How can a little putt-putt engine yacht tow the refugees back to Libya?. Or patrol the narrow 10km straits between Samos and Lesbos and Turkey? ? ? I am a dimwit to think an old Forrest Gump can have the slightest effect.
Illegal entrants and illegal red lead paint in Zakynthos
I'm on a ferry fetish from the tiny mainland port of Kilini.
One Ionian Island one day.
Another the next. Yo-yoing back and forward on daffodil yellow, blue, and black ferries.
Eating pistichios. Happy as larry.
Reading the Greek edition of the NYT on the aft deck.
In Athens, Eu Central Bank and the IMF want the Lignite (brown coal) power stations privatised. And company tax rates reduced. How original.
NYT Rich cosmopolitans still dummy spitting over Trump.
NYT Wailing that Greece is not looking after refugees, (when Greece can't pay nurses and doctors, and the schools are falling down).
Mendicant Greece was given Eu750 for every refugee that "passed through", by a cartel of international donors. Surely they couldn't make a profit at that. Now the fences have gone up.
With 90 mins to kill in Zakynthos (maybe Xantra in english ?) I wandered amongst the fishing boats.
Two browner blokes were using power tools on a tradional shaped wooden boat. No boots, gloves, safety glasses, or earmuffs.
They told me they were from Egypt. Probably illegals I guess. Painting the hull with red lead - a great marine paint, but banned as too poisonous in most of the first world.
Kefalonia Island rip-off at E40 for one night. That island deserted. No other tourists. No open B&Bs. My private, all-too-friendly hostel now back in Kalamata costs E17 per night. I paid Stavros lump sum for 7 nights (I was away for 4 of those nights). Just to have somewhere to leave wheelie suitcase, and on blink laptop. Back on charger Acer charge light is blinking, when usually it glows continually. Base is almost sealed. Not that easy to take out and replace battery like earlier laptops.
Landlord "has friend with computer shop" of course. Has friends with young girl for jiggy-jig probably too. No thats not fair. With 60% plus youth unemployment, I was expecting girls & boys for rent on every corner. Expect we have the conservative grip of the Greek Orthodox church to thank for that.
I think making cars smaller is the way of the future. Sorry Commodore owner!
99% of cars here are small to tiny. Lots of SMART from Mercedes. Toyota has a Smart-size AVGO that seems pretty new. Kia has PICCANTOs, and earlier models than the new one in Aus. That tiny Daewoo MATIZ we used to have in Aus is branded CHEVROLET. Hyundai here has a i10, smaller than the i20 that didnt sell very well, or had too small a profit margin in Aus. FIAT utes, SKODA utes, GOLF utes. Nearly everything needs a wash at a minimum. Repairs and panel beating at worst.
Except the BUSES. Spotless, shining and new. Bus drivers are highly skilled saints - navigating narrow streets, and chaotic parking with calm aplomb. They leave exactly on time, but arrive late. nb Mussolini.
Millions of cafes everywhere, islands, villages, towns, cities. Full of young, middle and old men doing nothing. But all with SPOTLESS toilets. Five stars for that.
Tomorrow is NATIONAL FREEDOM CELEBRATION day. The armed Revolution that eventually kicked out the Muslim Ottomans, started here in Kalamata, 23 March, 1821. As they say, one person's terrorist, is another person's freedom fighter. Council workers, previously invisible, have appeared today, planting flowers in all the pots. No glarey sunshine today. There is a damp, cold wind flowing down from the giant mountains - adiabetic - like political correctness.
Neighbours squabbling over the back fence. The english language NYT newspaper reports sham dogfights daily between Greek Mirage fighters and Turkish F-15s. A NATO wargame and cyber-wargame around Lesbos was cancelled due to a Greek-Turkey squabble. Turkey still claims all the Aegean islands slap-bang up against their coast. No-one remarks on the irony of 50,000 muslim economic migrants camped up on Lesbos and Samos. "Inhuman racist treatment" scream the UN & liberal left cosmopolitans. But there is silence on the million or more criminal invaders, aka undocumented aliens, camped up in Turkey, in far worse conditions. My. Refugees in Turkey don't even have access to a lawyer! The shame of it!
If I was a posturing, testosteronish, nationalist, islamist, dictatorish prime minister I might be tempted to push new waves of the human plague across to Greece. And blackmail Europe (again) for more billions of Euros to stop it. More. Much more birth control for muslim failed states everywhere would be a fraction of the cost of Erdogan blackmail. But it seems to be such a 1970s kind of idea. Global Human Rights says that all women can have as many children as they like. All children can have a smart phone. And all brown teenagers can freely enter any country they like. Except white christians who have to pay for their colonial past sins, by needing passports, visas, and return tickets.
David Z H
Kalamata Mall, in a computer games shop,
beside H&M, Zara, Nike, Columbia, etc.
Previously published as Debate: Greece debt deal (26/5/16) on PressTV.
In this 23 minute debate with Jack Rasmus, Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the United States' Treasury, shows that the so-called IMF bailout of Greece's debt to the IMF is not a bailout at all. A bailout is supposed to reduce the debt to a level where the loan can be paid off. The conditions attached to the bailout will force the Greeks to sell off to foreign corporations much of Greece's publicly owned wealth-generating assets. Without those assets, the Greek economy can only be made less able to pay off debt in future. The supposed bailout is no more than an attempt to use the indebtedness from money, which should never, in the first place, have been lent by the IMF to previous corrupt Greek governments, as a pretext to allow corporations to loot Greece's wealth in 2016.
Updates 4 Jul 15 from RT: Pro-Greece rallies STORYMAP: How the world is expressing solidarity with anti-austerity campaign, 'No more looting': Thousands rally across EU to express solidarity with Greece, From historic vote' for Greece's Syriza to #Greferendum : INTERACTIVE TIMELINE
Update July 6, 2015: The 'NO' vote has won, 62%: 38%!The 11:00PM ABC news last night reported large rallies for a 'No' vote at today's referendum in Greece. Rallies in Greece in support of a 'Yes' vote were considerably smaller. Rallies by Greek Australians also featured in the report. In spite of the fact that further austerity and privatisation that could only be ended with a 'No' vote, would be disastrous for the Greek people, the organisers of the Australian rallies chose not to advocate 'No' vote. Instead, the rallies are taking a neutral stance ostensibly in solidarity with Greece.
Reports of rallies in Australia and Greece can be found on the ABC News site. 1 Included below, in this article, are two embedded videos of rallies of Greeks in support of a 'No' vote against the IMF bailout conditions. Both were uploaded on 3 July 2015. The first, from the RT YouTube channel, is of length 3:28 minutes. (The fact that this video is only in Greek and has no English sub-titles does little to detract from its value for English audiences.) The second, from ThePressProject video channel is of length 10:30 minutes. It has been dubbed over by an English interpreter.
'OXI, OXI!': Tens of thousands chant 'No' to bailout conditions as Tsipras addresses crowd
Alexis Tsipras speaks to the Greek people before the Greferendum
In the speech, although Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras tells the crowd that democracy will have triumphed regardless of whether the 'No' vote or the 'Yes' vote wins on Sunday, he contradicts this by also implying that a yes vote would be a surrender.
As explained by Tsipras, and as shown elsewhere, a majority 'Yes' vote, far from being a triumph of democracy, would signify a surrender to the demands of the IMF for ruinous austerity and privatisation of publicly owned assets in return for temporary relief from the interest payments on an illegitimate loan. That loan from the IMF was taken out on behalf of of the Greek people, with neither their consent nor the consent of the then opposition Syriza Party, by a previous corrupt PASOK government.
Other stories about the referendum include: Thousands attend Greek solidarity protest in Dublin as Greece prepares for polls (4/7/15) | Irish Examiner, Greece's referendum shows you can have too much democracy [?!!] (4/7/15) | Quartz. See also list of earlier stories here.
#fn1" id="fn1">1.#txt1"> ↑ I was #comment-259576">advised by 'J-D' on johnQuiggin.com, where the report of large rallies for a 'No' vote can be found, Greek debt crisis: Prime minister Alexis Tsipras demands debt write-off, 'grace period' for repayments as rival rallies fill streets, can be found on the ABC News web-site.
Previously published (2/7/15) by Paul Craig Roberts.
Updates, 4 Jul 2015: Tsipras calls for 'No' vote in referendum on creditors’ demands | PressTV, 'No more looting': Thousands rally across EU to express solidarity with Greece | RT, 'No' and 'Yes' bailout referendum rallies gather thousands in Athens | RT, Greece – Risk of False-flagging Greece into Submission and Chaos? by Peter Koenig | Global Research, Could Greek resistance bring down the EU? (1/7/15) by Prof. John Quiggin | ABC The Drum, Greece and Other Musings On July 4th by Paul Craig Roberts, Greek Press Accused of Spinning Preliminary Poll Results as Yes Vote | Sputnik News.
James Galbraith, a professor at the University of Texas, explains what is at stake this Sunday. This is an important article. Because of the presstitute Western press, Americans, Europeans, Canadians, and Australians have no comprehension that their own liberty, or what little remains of it, is dependent on this vote. If the Greek people accept the conditions given to them in the ultimatum from the IMF, European Union, and European Central Bank, an ultimatum supported by Washington, the precedent will be established that the greed of the One Percent prevails over the sovereignty of peoples.
There is a massive Western propaganda campaign to make Greeks fearful and to use this fear to manipulate a Greek vote against their own government and in favor of the Global One Percent.
James K. Galbraith
Greece is heading toward a referendum on Sunday on which the future of the country and its elected government will depend, and with the fate of the Euro and the European Union also in the balance. At present writing, Greece has missed a payment to the IMF, negotiations have broken off, and the great and good are writing off the Greek government and calling for a "Yes" vote, accepting the creditors' terms for "reform," in order to "save the Euro." In all of these judgments, they are, not for the first time, mistaken.
To understand the bitter fight, it helps first to realize that the leaders of today's Europe are shallow, cloistered people, preoccupied with their local politics and unequipped, morally or intellectually, to cope with a continental problem. This is true of Angela Merkel in Germany, of François Hollande in France, and it is true also of Christine Lagarde at the IMF. In particular North Europe's leaders have not felt the crisis and do not know the economics, and in both respects they are the direct opposite of the Greeks.
For the North Europeans, the professionals at the "institutions" set the terms, and there is only possible outcome: to conform. The allowed negotiation was of one type only: more concessions by the Greek side. Any delay, any objection, could be seen only as posturing. Posturing is normal of course; politicians expect it. But to his fellow finance ministers the idea that the Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis was not posturing did not occur. When Varoufakis would not stop, their response was loathing and character assassination.
Contrary to some uninformed commentary, the Greek government knew from the beginning that it faced fierce hostility from Spain, Portugal and Ireland, deep suspicion from the mainstream left in France and Italy, implacable obstruction from Germany and the IMF, destabilization from the European Central Bank. But for a long time, these points were not proved internally. There are influential persons close to Tsipras who did not believe it. There are others who felt that, in the end, Greece would have to take what it could get. So Tsipras adopted a policy of giving ground. He let the accommodation caucus negotiate. And as they came back with concession after concession, he winced and agreed.
Ultimately, the Greek government found that it had to bow to the creditors' demands for a large and permanent primary surplus target. This was a hard blow; it meant accepting the austerity that the government had been elected to reject. But the Greeks did insist on the right to determine the form of austerity, and that form would be mainly to raise taxes on the wealthiest Greeks and on business profits. At least the proposal protected Greece's poorest pensioners from further devastating cuts, and it did not surrender on fundamental labor rights.
The creditors rejected even this. They insisted on austerity and also on dictating its precise shape. In this they made clear that they would not treat Greece as they have any other European country. The creditors tabled a take-it-or-leave-it offer that they knew Tsipras could not accept. Tsipras was on the line in any case. He decided to take his chances with a vote.
The stunned and furious reaction of the European leaders was, possibly, not entirely inauthentic. Perhaps they did not realize they were dealing with something not seen in Europe for some years: a political leader. Alexis Tsipras has only been on the international stage for a few months. He is brash, but charming. It would be easy for those as sheltered as Europe's present leaders to fail to figure him out – to fail to realize that like Varoufakis, Tsipras meant what he said.
Faced with Tsipras's decision to call a referendum, Merkel and her Deputy Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, Hollande of France and David Cameron of Britain – and shamefully also Italy's Matteo Renzi – all sent direct messages to the Greek people, that they would really be voting on membership in the Euro. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker went further, to say it would be a vote on membership in the European Union. It was an orchestrated threat: surrender or else.
In fact, neither the Euro nor the EU is at issue. The plain language of the referendum states that the vote is about the creditors' terms. The threat to expel Greece is an obvious bluff. There is no legal way to eject Greece from the Eurozone or the EU. The referendum is actually, and obviously, on the survival of the elected government in Greece. The European leaders know this, and they are trying now to ensure that Tsipras falls.
What does Tsipras gain by a "no" vote? Apart from political survival, only this: it is his way of proving, once for all, that he cannot yield to the conditions being demanded. So then the onus will be back on the creditors, and if they choose to destroy a European country, the crime will on their hands for all to see.
That said, there is no guarantee that Tsipras will win on Sunday. In the January elections, his party only won forty percent; now he needs a majority. Fear and confusion abound. The Greeks are, in effect, voting for a choice of unknowns, which can never be a sure thing.
If the Greeks vote "no", there is obvious uncertainty over the economic future. Perhaps the banks will stay shut, the deposits will be lost and the creditors will carry through their threats. The uncertainty is amplified, unavoidably, by the fact that the government cannot campaign to stay in the Euro and also explain how it would handle the trauma of being forced out. If there have been preparations, they are a well-kept secret so far.
If the Greeks vote "yes", on the other hand, the uncertainty is political. SYRIZA may split and its government may fall. What then? There is no credible alternative government in Greece. Moreover, it is hard to think that any government formed to accept the surrender and deepen the depression would last very long.
And it seems certain that after a "Yes", a surrender, and a deeper depression, the official Opposition would no longer be the pro-European Left that is today's government in Greece. Europe will have destroyed that. The new Opposition, and someday the government, will be either a Left or a Right party opposed to the Euro and to the Union. It could be Golden Dawn, the nazi party. The lesson of Greece also will not be lost on Oppositions elsewhere, including the rising far right in France.
The irony of the case is that the true hope – the only hope – for Europe lies in a "No" vote on Sunday, followed by renewed negotiations and a better deal. "Yes" is a vote for fear, against dignity and independence. Fear is powerful – but dignity and independence have a way of coming back.
- Negotiations have stalled because Greece's creditors (a) refused to reduce our un-payable public debt and (b) insisted that it should be repaid 'parametrically' by the weakest members of our society, their children and their grandchildren
- The IMF, the United States' government, many other governments around the globe, and most independent economists believe — along with us — that the debt must be restructured.
- The Eurogroup had previously (November 2012) conceded that the debt ought to be restructured but is refusing to commit to a debt restructure
- Since the announcement of the referendum, official Europe has sent signals that they are ready to discuss debt restructuring. These signals show that official Europe too would vote NO on its own 'final' offer.
- Greece will stay in the euro. Deposits in Greece's banks are safe. Creditors have chosen the strategy of blackmail based on bank closures. The current impasse is due to this choice by the creditors and not by the Greek government discontinuing the negotiations or any Greek thoughts of Grexit and devaluation. Greece's place in the Eurozone and in the European Union is non-negotiable.
- The future demands a proud Greece within the Eurozone and at the heart of Europe. This future demands that Greeks say a big NO on Sunday, that we stay in the Euro Area, and that, with the power vested upon us by that NO, we renegotiate Greece's public debt as well as the distribution of burdens between the haves and the have nots.
#appendix" id="appendix">Appendix: Other articles about Greece's default on IMF loan repayment
New York Times Warns Greece to Accept Endless Depression –Because Default Might Be Painful (26/6/15) | Global Research, Greece's exit from eurozone may be best choice: UK PM (27/6/15) | RT, Troika Intends Starving Greece Into Economic Submission (28/6/15) by Stephen Lendman | Global Research, On Greece and Europe: What is Called "Negotiation" is a Demand for Total Surrender (28/6/15) | Global Research, Greek Parliament Authorizes Referendum on Bailout Program (28/6/15) | Sputnik News, ?Eleventh hour deal on Greek debt still feasible – Juncker (29/6/15) |RT, "Greece Should Go Bankrupt, Get It Over and Start It Over" (29/6/15) | Global Research, Varoufakis threatens EU with court as Greek default looms – RT Business (30/6/15) | RT, European Leaders Dictate Terms for Greece (3/7/15) | WSWS/Global Research
See Video, text and article inside. Candobetter.net Editor: The treatment of the citizens of Greece has set the tone for globalised government degraded by banksters and fraudsters. Australia is not immune. That is why Australians should care about the very recent Delphi Declaration: "More than ever we are in urgent need of a radical restructuring of European debt, of serious measures to control the activities of the financial sector, of a “Marshal Plan” for the European periphery, of a courageous rethinking and re-launching of a European project which, in its present form, has proven unsustainable. We need to find now the courage to do this, if we want to leave a better Europe to our children, not a Europe in ruins, in continuous financial and even open military conflicts among its nations." (Excerpt from Delphi Conference declaration, 27 June 2015, Delphi, Greece). Text and article first published on Global Research at http://www.globalresearch.ca/greece-the-delphi-declaration/5458742
Peter Koenig – on behalf of The Delphi Initiative
During the weekend of 20 and 21 June 2015 a forum of international scholars, scientists, economists, sociologists, political analysts – met in Delphi Greece to discuss Greece and Europe. The organizers were the so-called “Delphi Initiative”, sponsored by the Lyssarides Foundation in Cyprus, the Greek Institute for Research on Political Strategies, the Russian Institute for Globalization and Social Movements, and the Forum Mondial des Alternatives, France.
The world must realize that the so-called troika – IMF, European Central Bank and European Commission, is literally blackmailing Greece and subjecting her to outright economic torture.
During the past days, Mr. Tsipras, Greece’s Prime Minister, has made considerable concessions to the creditors in Brussels and Washington – but none were good enough. Instead they, the notorious troika, have presented Greece with an austerity package which is simply unacceptable for the Government – and for the people.
Pensions have already been cut by close to 50% to an unlivable level especially for the poor – the troika requires more cuts.Already now most of public services and assets have been privatized, hospitals and schools closed – they want more. The public administration has already been reduced to a minimum, causing huge unemployment – they want more. They also want additional taxes which further affect the poor.
In short, they want to cause a political upheaval in Greece, creating chaos – what the Brussels / Washington gang knows best and is famous for – and, as usual – the end goal is “Regime Change”. How dare the Greek people voting for a socialist government in an otherwise fully neoliberal Europe, western world? They must be punished.
But Regime Change shall not happen. I have just published an article – Greece – The Way Out - that offers other solutions, solutions that will allow Greece to find back to her bearings and her economic recovery.
Thank you for your solidarity.
THE DELPHI DECLARATION
On Greece and Europe
European governments, European institutions and the IMF, acting in close alliance with, if not under direct control of, big international banks and other financial institutions, are now exercising a maximum of pressure, including open threats, blackmailing and a slander and terror communication campaign against the recently elected Greek government and against the Greek people.
They are asking the elected government of Greece to continue the “bail-out” program and the supposed “reforms” imposed on this country in May 2010, in theory to “help” and “save” it.
As a result of this program, Greece has experienced by far the biggest economic, social and political catastrophe in the history of Western Europe since 1945. It has lost 27% of its GDP, more than the material losses of France or Germany during the First World War. The living standards have fallen sharply. The social welfare system is all but destroyed. Greeks have seen social rights won during one century of struggles taken back. Whole social strata are completely destroyed, more and more Greeks are falling from their balconies to end a life of misery and desperation, every talented person who can leaves from the country. Democracy, under the rule of a “Troika” acting as collective economic assassin, a kind of Kafka’s “Court”, has been transformed into a sheer formality in the very country where it was born! Greeks are experiencing now the same feeling of insecurity about all basic conditions of life, that the French experienced in 1940, Germans in 1945, Soviets in 1991. At the same time, the two problems which this program was supposed to address, Greek sovereign debt and the competitiveness of the Greek economy have sharply deteriorated.
Now, European institutions and governments are refusing even the most reasonable, elementary, minor concession to the Athens government, they refuse even the slightest face-saving formula there might be. They want a total surrender of SYRIZA, they want its humiliation, its destruction. By denying to the Greek people any peaceful and democratic way out of its social and national tragedy, they are pushing Greece into chaos, if not civil war. Indeed, even now, an undeclared social civil war of “low intensity” is being waged inside this country, especially against the unprotected, the ill, the young and the very old, the weaker and the unlucky. Is this the Europe we want our children to live in?
We want to express our total, unconditional solidarity with the struggle of the Greek people for their dignity, their national and social salvation, for their liberation from the unacceptable neocolonial rule the “Troika” is trying to impose on this European country. We denounce the illegal and unacceptable agreements successive Greek governments have been obliged, under threat and blackmail, to sign, in violation of all European treaties, of the Charter of UN and of the Greek constitution. We call on European governments and institutions to stop their irresponsible and/or criminal policy towards Greece immediately and adopt a generous emergency program of support to redress the Greek economic situation and face the humanitarian disaster already unfolding in this country.
We also appeal to all European peoples to realize that what is at stake in Greece it is not only Greek salaries and pensions, Greek schools and hospitals or even the fate even of this historic nation where the very notion of “Europe” was born. What is at stake in Greece are also Spanish, Italian, even the German salaries, pensions, welfare, the very fate of the European welfare state, of European democracy, of Europe as such. Stop believing your media, who tell you the facts, only to distort their meaning, check independently what your politicians and your media are saying. They try to create, and they have created an illusion of stability. You may live in Lisbon or in Paris, in Frankfurt or in Stockholm, you may think that you are living in relative security. Do not keep such illusions. You should look to Greece, to see there the future your elites are preparing for you, for all of us and for our children. It is much easier and intelligent to stop them now, than it will be later. Not only Greeks, but all of us and our children will pay an enormous price, if we permit to our governments to complete the social slaughter of a whole European nation.
We appeal in particular to the German people. We do not belong to those who are always reminding the Germans of the past in order to keep them in an “inferior”, second-class position, or in order to use the “guilt factor” for their dubious ends. We appreciate the organizational and technological skills of the German people, their proven democratic and especially ecological and peace sensitivities. We want and we need the German people to be the main champions in the building of another Europe, of a prosperous, independent, democratic Europe, of a multipolar world.
Germans know better than anybody else in Europe, where blind obedience to irresponsible leaders can lead and has indeed led in the past. It is not up to us to teach them any such lesson. They know better than anybody else how easy is to begin a campaign with triumphalist rhetoric, only to end up with ruins everywhere around you. We do not invite them to follow our opinion. We demand simply from them to think thoroughly the opinion of such distinguished leaders of them like Helmut Schmitt for instance, we demand them to hear the voice of the greatest among modern German poet, of Günter Grass, the terrible prophecy he has emitted about Greece and Europe some years before his death.
We call upon you, the German people, to stop such a Faustian alliance between German political elites and international finance. We call upon the German people not to permit to their government to continue doing to the Greeks exactly what the Allies did to Germans after their victory in the First World War. Do not let your elites and leaders to transform the entire continent, ultimately including Germany, into a dominion of Finance.
More than ever we are in urgent need of a radical restructuring of European debt, of serious measures to control the activities of the financial sector, of a “Marshal Plan” for the European periphery, of a courageous rethinking and re-launching of a European project which, in its present form, has proven unsustainable. We need to find now the courage to do this, if we want to leave a better Europe to our children, not a Europe in ruins, in continuous financial and even open military conflicts among its nations.
Delphi, 21 June 2015
The above declaration was adopted by nearly all participants in the Delphi conference on the crisis, on alternatives to euroliberalism and EU/Russia relations, held at Delphi, Greece on 20-21st of June. It is also supported by some people who were not able to be present. The list of people who signed it follows. In it there are not only citizens of EU countries, but also of Switzerland, USA, Russia and India.
Many distinguished American scholars seem to be more sensitive as regard the European crisis, than the … political leaders of EU themselves! As for Russians, it is only normal and natural to bear a great interest for what is going on in EU, as EU citizens bear also an interest for what is going on in Russia. All participants in the Delphi conference share the strong conviction that Russia is an integral part of Europe, that there is a strong interconnection between what happens in EU and in Russia. They are categorically opposed to anti-Russia hysteria, which in fact is nothing less than the preparation of a new, even more dangerous cold, if not hot war.
Altvater Elmar, Germany
Member of scientific community of A?TAC. Retired Professor of Political Science, Free University of Berlin.
Amin Samir, Egypt/France
Economist, President of the Forum Mondial des Alternatives
Ayala Iván H., Spain
Researcher, Instituto Complutense de Estudios Internacionales
Arsenis Gerasimos, Greece
economist, ex-minister of Economy, of Finance, of National Defense and of Education, ex-UN official and ex-director of UNCTAD
Artini Massimo, Italy
Member of Parliament
Bellantis Dimitris, Greece
Lawyer, PHD in Constitutional Law, Member of the Central Committee of SYRIZA
Black William, USA
Professor of Economics, University of Missouri (Kansas City)
Cassen Bernard, France
Professor Emeritus, Université Paris 8, secretary general of ”Mémoire des luttes”
Chiesa Giulietto, Italy
Politician, journalist and author, ex MEP, president of the “Alternativa” association
Freeman Alan, Canada/UK
Gabriel Leo, Austria
Director of the Institute for Intercultural Research and Cooperation (IIIC), Vienna, Member of the International Council of the World Social Forum, Coordinator of the NGO Committee for Sustainable Development of the United Nations
George Susan, France
Political and social scientist, writer, President of the Transnational Institute
Georgopoulos Dimosthenis, Greece
Economist, sociologist, political scientist, Secretariat on Industrial Policy, SYRIZA
German Lindsey, UK
Convenor, Stop the War Coalition
Graeber David, U?
Professor of Anthropology, London School of Economics. Author of “Debt: The First 5,000 Years”
Hudson Michael, USA
Professor of economics, University of Missouri (Kansas City), UMKC. President, Institute for the Study of Long-term Economic Trends (ISLET)
Irazabalbeitia Inaki, Spain
Former MEP / responsible for International Relationships for the party ARALAR, Basque Country
Jennar Raoul Marc, France
Dr. in political sciences, specialist on European law and on WTO regulations, writer of twenty books, among them “Europe, la trahison des élites”
Kagarlitsky Boris, Russia
Director of the Institute for globalization studies and social movements (IGSO)
Kalloniatis Costas , Greece
Phd on macroeconomics, adviser to the Ministry of Labour, researcher in the Labor Institute of the General Confederation of Workers of Greece
Kasimatis Giorgos, Greece
Prof. Emeritus of Constitutional Law, University of Athens. Founder and Honorary President of the International Association of Constitutional Law, ex-advisor to PM Andreas Papandreou.
Koenig Peter, Switzerland
?conomist / geopolitical analyst
Koltashov Vasiliy, Russia
Head of the economic research unit of the Institute for Globalisation and Social Movements
Konstantakopoulos Dimitris, Greece
Journalist, Writer, Coordinator of the Delphi Initiative
Koutsou Nikos, Cyprus
Member of Parliament from Famagusta
Kreisel Wilfried, Germany
Former Executive Director, World Health Organization
Mavros Giannis, Greece
Member of the National Council for the Claiming of Germany’s Debts to Greece
Mityaev Dmitry A. , Russia
Deputy Chairman of the Council for Study of Productive Forces of the Ministry of Economic Development and the Russian Academy of Sciences on Development Issues
Ochkina Anna, Russia
Head of Department of social theory at Penza State University
Pantelides Panagiotis, Greece
Economist, senior researcher, European Institute of Cyprus
Petras James, USA
Bartle Professor Emeritus , Binghamton University
Ex-Director of the Center for Mediterranean Studies (Athens), ex-adviser to the Landless Rural Workers Movement of Brasil and the Unemployed Workers Movement in Argentina
Pinasco Luca, Italy
National coordinator of Proudhon Circles-Editor for foreign policy of the journal “L’intellettuale dissidente”.
Radika Desai, USA
Rees John, UK
Co-founder, Stop the War Coalition
Roberts Paul Craig, USA
Former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy, Associate Editor, Wall Street Journal, Senior Research Fellow, Stanford University, William E. Simon Chair in Political Economy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.
Sideratos Aggelos, Greece
Sommers Jeffrey, USA
Senior Fellow, Institute of World Affairs, Professor, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
St Clair Jeffrey, USA
Editor, CounterPunch, author, Born Under a Bad Sky
Stierle Steffen, Germany
?conomist, ATTAC Germany
Syomin Konstantin, Russia
Tombazos Stavros, Greece
Professor of Political Economy, University of Cyprus, member of the international “Committee of Truth on Greek Sovereign Debt” (debt auditing committee) created by the Greek parliament
Vanaik Achin, India
Retired Professor of International Relations and Global Politics, University of Delhi
Xydakis Nikos, Greece
Minister of Culture
Zachariev Zachari, Bulgaria
President of the Slaviani Foundation
Zdanoka Tatjana, Latvia
Member of European Parliament
Previously published (27/6/15) on PressTV as Tsipras calls for referendum on creditors' bailout demands.This article also includes embedded video Greece to hold nationwide referendum on the country's future on July 5. See also , That which you were never told about Greece (23/2/15) by Aléxis Tsípras | Voltaire, Greece to hold national referendum on debt deal - PM (27/6/15 - with video) | RT and other alternate and mainstream reports.
People in Greece will vote in a referendum on whether their government should agree to international creditors' demands in return for a bailout to the debt-ridden country, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras says.
The plebiscite will be held on July 5, Tsipras said in a televised speech early on Saturday, adding that he had already informed Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos and the largest opposition party, the conservative New Democracy party, about the plan.
"The Greek people are sovereign to decide," Tsipras said, emphasizing, "With national unity and composure we will take the decisions that we deserve."
Greece's troika of international lenders - the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) - offered a €12-billion ($13.4-billion) extension of the current bailout deal to Athens on Friday on the condition that the cash-strapped country accepts the list of austerity reforms under a new agreement between the two sides.
The five-month extension to the bailout would be the third since last December. The creditors want Tsipras' government to accept key reforms on pensions and value-added tax (VAT).
"These proposals, which clearly violate the European rules and the basic rights to work, equality and dignity show that the purpose of some of the partners and institutions was not a viable agreement for all parties, but possibly the humiliation of an entire people," Tsipras said in his speech.
The creditors will also disburse the first €1.8 billion ($2 billion) in aid to help Greece avoid defaulting on its debt to the IMF if the country's lawmakers approve the reforms required by the lenders.
Greece received two bailout packages in 2010 and 2012 worth a total of €240 billion ($272 billion) from its creditors following its 2009 economic crisis, in return for implementing harsh austerity measures.
According to the terms of the bailout deal, Greece should make a €1.6-billion ($1.79 billion) payment to the IMF at the end of this month.
There are concerns that Greece may go bankrupt and have to leave the eurozone if a deal is not clinched by the end of June.
#video" id="video">Appendix 1: Greece to hold nationwide referendum on the country's future on July 5 (26/6/15) | RT
#OtherReports" id="OtherReports">Appendix 2: Other media reports
Alternate media: Stifling Growth in Greece: The Austerity Regime Continues (24/6/15) | Global Research, Greek Journalists "Trained by the IMF" in Washington to Spin Stories in Favor of the IMF and the European Commission (27/6/15) | Global Research, Syriza: Plunder, Pillage and Prostration: How the 'Hard Left' Embraces the Policies of the Hard Righ (27/6/15) | Global Research, European Leaders Dictate Terms for Greece (27/6/15) | , 'This road of austerity is spiral of death' – Greek minister (27/6/15) | RT - Op-Edge, What Greece's Creditors Should Know (27/6/15) | Global Research.
Mainstream media: Greece crisis live: shock referendum throws bail-out future into chaos ahead of crunch Brussels meeting (27/6/15) | The Telegraph, Greece's bailout referendum risks exit from euro (26/6/15) | CNN, The seven stages of Greece's debt tragedy (26/6/15) | The Guardian,Greece Divided on Bailout Referendum (27/6/15) | WSJ (behind paywall), Europe strikes back: It seems to be trying to push Greece out of the euro (25/6/15) | Washington Post, Germany says surprise Greek referendum plan shuts door on negotiations (27/6/15) | The Star, Greece is doomed (27/6/15) | Vox, Greece Debt Crisis: Lines Form at ATMs as PM Seeks Referendum on Bailout (27/6/15) | NBC, Greek debt crisis: ECB faces monumental decisions (27/6/15) | BBC, Greece's Tsipras summons cabinet as debt deadline nears (27/6/15) | Reuters.
Order The Kapetanios (1772) by Dominique Eudes from Monthly Review Press for US$20.00 + postage.
I think the ABC Radio National program, Rear Vision, (see inside) owes to the Greek people and to its Australian audience to tell the truth about Greek history. The account of the Greek Civil War (see Appendix 1) is untrue. The Greek Communist Party led the resistance to the German occupation and had overwhelming support of the Greek people. In 1944, the British tricked the Communist partisans into disarming whilst they secretly re-armed those who had collaborated with the Germans against fellow citizens. They were able to do this because of the betrayal of the Greek Communist Party and the unquestioning support for Stalin by the Greek Communist Party. The Greek Communist Party abused its support from the Greek people to convince then to lay down their weapons. The result was a massacre of the most patriotic Greeks by former German collaborators whilst the British looked on. At this time, the heroic partisan leader Aris Velouchiotis was murdered by collaborators. He died in the knowledge that the Greek Communist Party leaders that he supported had denounced him as a traitor for refusing to lay down his arms.
This was originally posted to the ABC Radio National Rear Vision website on 17 July 2011 as a comment in response to a documentary "Greek Tragedy". This article was originally posted to candobetter, but not on the front page, on 14 Nov 2014. See also: IMF vs Greece: History of the Greek Civil War (part iii) and Episode 055 (6/12/14 - 25 min) of Sputnik by George Galloway on RT.#fnGCW1" id="fnGCW1txt"> 2
One of the placards at the mass Greek protests in October 1944 against the British read: "The Germans are back".
Patriotic Greeks could have so easily beaten the British and the former German collaborators in the war of 1944 and the subsequent civil war from 1946-1949 if they were not so appallingly misled by the Greek Communist Party (KKE).
For a truthful account of the Greek Civil War please read "The Kapetanios - Partisans and the Civil War in Greece, 1943-1949" written in 1973 by Frenchman Dominique Eudes. Copies can be order from The Monthly Review Press, "Alibris, or Amazon
Update, 31 dec 2014: The transcript of the program, copied from the ABC Radio National page, to which the above is a response, has been moved to this page. An excerpt is below in #appendix1">Appendix 1 - JS
#appendix1" id="appendix1">Appendix 1: ABC Rear Vision's "Greek Tragedy" misleading account of the Greek Civil War
"Greece fought the Italians and then the Germans during World War II and when the war ended in 1945, a bitter civil war between communists and anti-communists, ultimately won by the right, created social tensions that would last in Greece for the next 30 years. Dr David Close is a historian in the School of International Studies at Flinders University."
David Close: "1945 was Year Zero in Greece, like in much of Europe, because under the German occupation everything had been destroyed: the whole economic system, the physical infrastructure, the political system. The Germans had encouraged a growing civil war, as well, which got worse in the few years after the war. The driving force was a pro-soviet communist party, which grew very powerful under the German occupation, because it dominated the Resistance. And the opposing forces were backed first by the British and then by the Americans, and American backing enabled them to triumph in the end, so they won a decisive victory in 1949."
James Sinnamon's comment: The principle 'driving force' of the Greek Civil war was not the Greek Communist Party (KKE). It was the British Army led by General Scobie and Greeks who had collaborated with the Nazi collaborators.
Josef Stalin had instructed the KKE to welcome his British allies as liberators and to follow their instructions. After they landed the British demanded that the partisans disarm. The Greek Communist Party leaders did their utmost to ensure that resistance fighters disarmed. For its part, the British army protected former collaborators from a vengeful Greek population, claiming to have put them in custody, whilst secretly re-arming them.
This made possible the bloody civil war which was won by the fascists. This defeat caused Greece to remain a dictatorship for more than three more decades. As Nana Mouskouri explained tonight on Q and A, parliamentary rule was not re-established until 1975.
Appendix 2: Other pages about the Greek Civil War
#GreekCivilWar Twitter pages.
#fnGCW1">1#fnGCW1txt"> ↑ The Greek Civil War is discussed in the first half of that episode of Sputnik. In that segment Galloway interviews Judy Cotter, a British woman, who as a student activist in 1973, courageously helped Greek students being imprisoned and tortured by the Greek military junta. That was the same junta which came to power in 1944 as a result of the betrayal of the resistance fighters in 1944 by Stalin and Churchill. The above article was also posted as a comment on Jan 2014 to Sputnik.
In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert discuss the impossible demand from the Greek voters that both austerity ends and that they remain in the euro as currently arranged. They also look at a parallel “future-tax” crypto currency as a possible answer to Greece’s problems. In the second half, Max interviews Liam Halligan, editor-at-large at BNE.eu and columnist at the Telegraph, about the latest on the unpayable debt crisis in Greece. Liam suggests a Grexit will happen but that Greece won’t be the first European nation to leave the euro.
See also: Greek 'political blackmail' of EU won't work anymore, says top Merkel party member (1/1/15) on PressTV, Austerity Measures in Greece and the Eurozone. Repealing “Flawed Economic Policies” (31/12/14) by William Black on Global Research, Angela Merkel hails Greece austerity measures (9/10/12) on PressTV.
Previously published on Global Research (2/1/15).
Editorial introduction: The savage cutbacks of social services and government employment demanded of the newly elected left-wing Greek SYRIZA government by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is barely an order of magnitude less brutal than the civil war inflicted upon the Greek people in 1944 by the British and former Nazi collaborators. Given the support given to neo-Nazis by the same vested interests served by the IMF barely 1,000km away in Ukraine, what guarantee can there be that the Greek people will be any less brutalised than they were in 1944?
As has been shown elsewhere, 1 it was not for lack of courage and steadfastness that the Greek people were defeated after 1944. There is every reason to hope that, in 2014, the Greek people will be able to stand up to the New World
Order Tyranny of the IMF.
However, a complicating factor is mass immigration, which in Greece and many other countries, destroys the quality of life of the working and middle classes. Unfortunately, in Greece, the most outspoken opponents of mass immigration are the modern day ideological bedfellows of the Nazi collaborators of the late 1940s.
Even before the dissolution of the Greek parliament and the ensuing electoral campaign, International and European powers have launched a campaign of lies and threats aimed at cowering the Greek electorate away from voting for SYRIZA (United Social Front) in the upcoming general election to take place on 25 January. Seconded by the mainstream European media, the "leaders", Juncker, Merkel, Hollande, Renzi, or Schäuble, are preparing yet another brutal intervention into Greece's home affairs, a country they have already turned into a mess of social ruin through the inhuman and barbarous austerity policies they have dictated.
The result will be decisive in the social war against the vast majority of the European population!
The Committee for the Abolition of the Third World Debt (CADTM) does not have the least doubt about the real intentions of those who have used Greece as a European testing ground for the most extreme neoliberal policies and used the Greeks as guinea pigs for social, political and economic shock therapies. We must be ready for an escalation of their campaign. They cannot allow that SYRIZA gain victory and be emulated throughout Europe! They will stop at nothing because they are well aware that the result of the Greek elections will be decisive in the social war they are waging against the vast majority of the European population!
It is because the stakes are so high that we can expect the "leaders" of Europe and of Greece to refuse to accept the result of the poll which, for the first time in Greek history, should bring victory to the Greek left. They will certainly try to stifle the left wing government that will be the democratic result, because its eventual success will be interpreted as tremendous encouragement, to the workers and peoples of Europe, to resist.
The CADTM, which has always been alongside the Greek people in their struggle against austerity and the grave infringements of their social and democratic rights, again calls on European and worldwide social movements and radical parties to unflinchingly support the resistance and struggle of the Greek people. The illegitimate, illegal and odious debt that the Greek people have been burdened with is not their debt. The CADTM considers that the creation of an international popular commission to audit Greece's debt in order to identify the illegitimate, illegal and/or odious parts that should not be repaid, would set a precedent and nourish the debate on debt repudiation in all the peripheral European countries.
To support the Greek people and the Greek left in their struggle to liberate the country from the grip of creditors and from the dictatorship of the markets is now the duty, not only of grass roots activists, but also of every European citizen that refuses this Europe of austerity that produces misery, racism and barbarism.
The text printed below was originally printed as an appendix to the article About the Greek Civil War. That article was my response to the ABC Radio National program of 13 July 2011, "Greek Tragedy". - JS
Appendix: Transcript of "Greek Tragedy", 13 July 2100
ABC Europe correspondent [archival]: And with that the Speaker of the Greek Parliament, Filippos Petsalnikos, declared the vote passed 155 in favour, 138 against, the government winning the right to introduce tax rises for the lowest earners, to shed 150,000 jobs in the public service, and to cut salaries by 15%. Restaurant and café owners who were collecting 13% in GST will now have to add 23%, making the cost of a cup of coffee in Greece 10 percentage points more expensive overnight.
Keri Phillips: The Greek government is deeply in debt. Since the beginning of last year, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund have been negotiating with Greek political leaders -- agreeing to lend Greece enough money to keep repaying its debts, while forcing it to find ways to reduce its spending.
Hello, Keri Phillips here with Rear Vision -- on ABC Radio National, online and by podcast. Today we'll look at the origins of Greece's excessive national debt. How did this modern European nation of just over 11 million people come to owe over three hundred and thirty billion euro?
Although for much of the period before the recent global financial crisis Greece enjoyed respectable economic growth, you don't have to look far back to see a country ripped apart by international conflict and internal division. Greece fought the Italians and then the Germans during World War II and when the war ended in 1945, a bitter civil war between communists and anti-communists, ultimately won by the right, created social tensions that would last in Greece for the next 30 years. Dr David Close is a historian in the School of International Studies at Flinders University.
David Close: 1945 was Year Zero in Greece, like in much of Europe, because under the German occupation everything had been destroyed: the whole economic system, the physical infrastructure, the political system. The Germans had encouraged a growing civil war, as well, which got worse in the few years after the war. The driving force was a pro-soviet communist party, which grew very powerful under the German occupation, because it dominated the Resistance. And the opposing forces were backed first by the British and then by the Americans, and American backing enabled them to triumph in the end, so they won a decisive victory in 1949.
Keri Phillips: Yanis Varoufakis is a Greek economist from the University of Athens.
Yanis Varoufakis: By 1949 when the civil war ended, Greece was a divided nation, a nation in disrepair; an economy that had broken down completely after 15, 20 years of continuous warfare. A rural area that produced a massive exodus of migrants, many of whom ended up in Australia as our listeners already know. Yet in the early 1950s growth came to the country in the form of the ubiquitous Marshall Plan, which was a godsend. Not only did it stop starvation from spreading its tentacles throughout the country, but in addition to that, it created the circumstances that led to the development of nascent industry, industrial sector, which then proceeded in the 1960s to create circumstances that can lead the historian to describing Greece in the 1960s as a developing economy.
David Close: There was an economic miracle in Greece. It enjoyed the highest rates of economic growth in the western world for 25 years after the end of the civil war. And after about seven or eight years this growth became self-sustaining. It didn't depend on United States investment anymore.
Keri Phillips: What was going on in the society in an economic sense?
David Close: Industry grew enormously and much of the agricultural population migrated to cities, to higher productivity occupations in cities. The Greek-owned merchant fleet grew to be the largest in the world by 1970, so this was the era of Aristotle Onassis and Niarchos and others who in the end invested heavily in Greek industry. So those were just some of the components of growth. The pace of growth grew greatly under the military dictatorship of 1967 to 1974. The military dictatorship favoured big business, especially the ship-owners, and that was good for growth although bad for social equity.
Keri Phillips: A coup in 1967 had been followed by seven years of military rule. By 1974, when democracy was restored under the conservative New Democracy Party led by Constantine Karamanlis, the global oil shocks were already being felt by the Greek economy.
Yanis Varoufakis: When the oil crisis hit in '72, '73, the Greek economy realised, society realised to its consternation that the industrial miracle that had been built in the 1950s and 60s was so to speak built on sand, and with the first tremors of the international economy, the global crisis in the 1970s, it began to collapse. It was built on the basis of a clientalist relationship between an extremely authoritarian right wing regime that emerged from the civil war, with a very small number of well-to-do upper middle class families that were extremely well connected with the regime. On many occasions the same families had in their midst politicians and businessmen alternating between government posts and being captains of industry. The economy was protected from competition from the outside with large tariffs. It was the combination of the oil shock of the 1970s and the opening up of the Greek economy following the first stirrings of globalisation and, in particular, trade barriers were being lowered during a period that led to Greece's entry into the European Economic Community. So the industrial miracle of the '50s and '60s suddenly had to face up to the twin facts of increasing costs and increasing competition.
Keri Phillips: Almost immediately following the restoration of democracy in 1974, the New Democracy Government under Prime Minister Karamanlis had applied for membership of the European Economic Community -- the precursor to the European Union. Many in Greece saw membership as a means of protecting their fragile parliamentary democracy and encouraging economic development. But Yanis Varoufakis says that there was no way that Greek industry was going to be able to survive Greece's accession to the EEC in 1981.
Yanis Varoufakis: From 1976, 1977 onwards there was a frenzy of activity by panicking government to save the industrial sector that had been so painfully put together in the previous decades. There were a number of steps. One step involved in fact nationalisation of certain banks like the Commercial Bank of Greece, and also state subsidies, through those nationalised banks, of the industrial sector. The idea was that liquidity should be provided to the struggling industries to keep them alive, in order to come up with some ideas as to how they could be rendered competitive.
By the end of the 1970s, 1981 in particular, there was a change in government. The Socialist Party came to power with a program of large-scale nationalisations, but it never managed to put its program into action, simply because of the fact that they actually went bankrupt. So it had to take them over. It was not a question of putting in place their policy; they just inherited all these factories: textiles, even armaments factories that failed, and the government had to take them over and run them and finance them. So suddenly Greece, which had a very low public debt to GDP ratio, one of the lowest in Europe, suddenly started facing an increasing, escalating, accelerating debt problem.
Keri Phillips: Did the Greek government borrow the money to nationalise and keep those factories going?
Yanis Varoufakis: Indeed. And that lasted for about four or five years, during which the first socialist government, Pasok government, of Greece, between let's say 1981 and 1985-6 struggled to keep those factories alive. Unfortunately they did not introduce any serious management skills to these factories. They were being run on the basis of traditional featherbedding, favouritism, appointing their own party members and trade unionists on boards. It was a slow-motion accident unfolding in front of our eyes. First we had the private sector failure of the 1970s and then we had the public sector failure of the 1980s. And the result was the beginnings of the mess that Greece finds itself in today.
Keri Phillips: During the 1980s, the right wing governments of the New Democracy Party gave way to those of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement, better known as Pasok, under Andreas Papandreou. All those who had been on the losing side in the civil war, long excluded from both political power and economic participation, suddenly got a windfall.
David Close: Yes, that's right. All those associated with the losing side in the civil war had been excluded from power, and so when they mobilised politically and finally came to power themselves in the 1980s through the Pasok party led by Andreas Papandreou, that's the father of the present prime minister, they had a chance to make amends, to compensate themselves for their long years of exclusion. The result was that the public service grew to an extraordinary extent, regardless of financial consequences. Now this was a traditional feature of the Greek state, that it was too big and very inefficient and penetrated by political parties. This dates back to the origins of the Greek state in the early 19th century, but it had been greatly accentuated under the political right after the civil war, and then further accentuated by Papandreou's Pasok regime in the 1980s. Andreas Papandreou took it to unheard-of lengths. He increased the size of the public administration and the spoils system to a quite crazy degree. In about the six months before the general election of June 1989, for example, about 90,000 people were appointed to the public administration, with no reason and no qualifications. So while he was trying to introduce a welfare state, he was undermining the efficiency of the public service that was needed to make a welfare state effective. It was a contradictory policy which could only end in disaster.
Keri Phillips: What did these people do? What were they hired to do?
David Close: Good question. Read newspapers, chatted to each other, twiddled their thumbs. This was an everyday experience for visitors to government offices or any government institution in the 1980s, to see masses of idle people sitting around chatting to each other and treating the public as the enemy. The worst of it was that the public got lousy service, as well as having to pay through their taxes for all these useless people.
Keri Phillips: When the leftists did get in to power in the '80s did they find themselves already with a substantial deficit?
David Close: Only a small deficit. Strictly speaking the financial lunacy began in the late 1970s. The last time Greece ever had a government budget surplus was in 1976. And then after that two-party competition intensified. The conservative regime in its last years found itself under increasing threat from Pasok, and so spent up big to try to win an election. Then Pasok continued the trend after that in the 1980s. And so yes, Pasok by the mid-1980s had to accept very big loans from the European Union, or the European Economic Community as it then was, and then had to impose harsh austerity policies as a condition for receiving the loans. So the beginning of this cycle of crazy expenditure followed by harsh austerity policies can really be dated to the mid-1980s. In 1985 there were large-scale riots and strikes in protest against the government austerity policies, and these have continued periodically ever since.
Greek protesters [archival]: This country is ours. Not for foreign bankers. From today there is no democracy in Greece because the parliament vote a program against the people, against the constitution, against the interest of 95% of Greek society.
Keri Phillips: Yanis Varoufakis says that governments were not unaware of the need to try to rein in public spending:
Yanis Varoufakis: Greek governments up until 2004 have shown a degree of rationality and acumen, in the sense that when public finances seemed to be running out of kilter they would hit the brakes and introduce austerity and rein the debt back. It happened in the late 1970s, it also happened in the 1980s with the socialist government of Andreas Papandreou, the current prime minister's father. It then happened again in the 1990s when there was a very serious -- perhaps the only truly serious attempt -- to rein in the public debt problem and, at the same time, to modernise the economy. And it was this period in the 1990s that effectively transformed Greece and gave at least an impression of a Greece that was ready for the euro and a Greece that was ready for taking its rightful place next to its European partners.
By the -- if you remember -- the Olympics of 2004, there was even evidence of managerial competence within the public sector and within the private sector. The country managed to pull off a quite impressive Olympics. Unfortunately it was all financed by easy money being borrowed by the Greek state. When that private money burnt out during the great financial crisis of 2008, Greece found itself in a big black hole.
David Close: The problem was that during the years of prosperity, from the time when Greece joined the eurozone in 2002, credit became very cheap, which was a new experience in Greece. Greece had achieved the remarkable feat, hitherto, of growing more prosperous without the benefit of low interest rates. But the era of low interest rates began from about 2000, thanks to the accession to the eurozone. Whereas private households managed to resist the temptation to become too heavily debt -- levels of private household debt remained low by western European standards -- governments could not resist the temptation. Instead of trimming their expenditure they took full advantage of the cheap credit now available from French and German banks. And so they let levels of public debt remain extraordinarily high when they should have been using the economic good times to bring them down.
Keri Phillips: The spigot of cheap easy money was turned off in the credit squeeze of 2008 and the global financial crisis hit Greece's main industries -- shipping and tourism -- hard. By the beginning of 2010, Greek government debt was estimated at 216 billion euro. In Ireland, it was reckless lending by private banks to fuel a building boom that effectively destroyed their economy. It was a different story in Greece.
Yanis Varoufakis: In Greece the banks, however unlikeable they might be, did not cause the crisis. Indeed they were very conservative. They had not been exposed to the toxic waste like the German banks or the French banks had been. They were actually running a quite tight ship. The Greek banks' problem, and the reason why now they're bankrupt, is because the economy has collapsed around them. And all the loans that they had given to households and businesses turned into bad loans. And all the Greed government bonds that they had invested in are suddenly junk bonds. So you know what they say -- oh well actually what Tolstoy wrote in the first page of Anna Karenina, 'All happy families are alike, but unhappy families are unhappy in their different ways.'
So Ireland, Spain, Greece, there are different circumstances that led to our collective woes, but now we are in this situation and we are suffering from exactly the same ill-effects, even though our starting point was very different.
Keri Phillips: And looking at the debt that the government has, who is this money owed to?
Yanis Varoufakis: It's owed primarily to banks. The majority of that is owed to big banks. A very significant amount is owed to German and French banks. The problem that France has in particular is that French banks own two of those Greek banks which are themselves owed money by the Greek state. In addition to the banks there are pension funds, so the whole pension system in Greece is teetering on the verge of collapse as a result of its dependence on Greek government debt.
Keri Phillips: At the time of the global financial crisis, many countries found themselves having to take on extra debt, often, as in the UK, to save their banks. Why was Greece's debt such a problem? Professor Kevin Featherstone is director of the Hellenic Observatory, part of the European Institute at the London School of Economics.
Kevin Featherstone: The problem is whether Greece can sustain the repayments on this debt level. You're right though, Keri, that at an earlier stage, if we think of 2008, the very beginning of 2009, the level of public debt in Greece was not that different from that of several other member states. And also it was not that different to countries outside the eurozone such as the UK and the United States. What became problematic was the level of maturing debt that Greece had at a time when Greece was also running up a large deficit at the end of 2009. So it's rather like the consumer having a large mortgage with the bank - but then many other consumers have large mortgages with banks -- but this particular consumer also suddenly announcing that its credit card debts have suddenly exploded as well. And so the judgment of the financial markets, and in particular the credit rating agencies, was that Greece, with such high debts and also now suddenly such high deficits of the government, was in an unsustainable position.
Keri Phillips: Why does the rest of Europe care if Greece cannot continue to repay its debts?
Kevin Featherstone: Because it becomes a collective problem in the sense that the effects of Greece not being able to pay its loans would have very negative contagion effects right across the eurozone. And especially in the context of 2009 and 2010 the level of debt that Greece had that was owed to banks in Germany and France, was very high indeed. So you might say, Keri, that Greece was a problem, but also that, for the rest of the eurozone, and particularly the governments in Berlin and Paris, ultimately they were faced with the dilemma: you either bail out Greece or you bail out your own domestic banking systems.
Keri Phillips: So is it the case, then, that now banks such as the banks in France and Germany are lending Greece the money to repay those same banks?
Kevin Featherstone: It is governments and the IMF, the so-called troika, so that a loan is being provided to Greece to enable it to pay its creditors. And its creditors, yes, are banks in France and Germany etc. In parallel to this, what's being discussed at the moment, at German prompting, is some mechanism by which the banks of Germany and France could be encouraged, arms twisted, to accept less than the amount that they had loaned. In other words, the German government is keen that foreign banks who lent to Greece in a rather risky fashion on too easy terms, that they themselves should take some kind of hit. But at the moment these things are still being discussed and negotiated.
Keri Phillips: Can you give us some sense of how much money Greece actually owes? What's the debt of the Greek government?
Kevin Featherstone: In relative terms at the moment it's judged to be approximately 150 per cent of its gross domestic product. That means that the debt level is one and a half times all of the economic wealth and economic transactions taking place within Greece as a system. Now clearly 150 per cent is astronomical and the fear is that this debt level will actually increase and may rise as much as 200 per cent. In other words, it's Greece owing twice as much as Greece is actually worth in economic terms.
Keri Phillips: So is there any way that Greece could ever repay such a debt?
Kevin Featherstone: There is no way that a country could repay that amount of debt in the short and medium term. But then the task is less than that. The task is simply to keep up with the repayments on a long term basis. So it doesn't really matter to the rest of the euro system so long as Greece can continue to repay its maturing debts at particular points in time. The problem becomes if Greece at any particular point is spending too much, so that its current deficit is excessive. And that then raises the questions of Greece going bankrupt, not being able to afford to cover its maturing debt at any particular point in time. But just like you and I and countless listeners have large mortgages -- a large mortgage in itself is not problematic. What becomes problematic is if the individual payments at any particular point are not being covered. And it's in the interests of the eurozone that Greece gets to a point where it can afford that maturing debt.
Keri Phillips: As a member of the eurozone, Greece retains the right to control its own borrowing and spending but it cannot lower its own interest rates to stimulate its economy, nor can it devalue its currency to make its exports more attractive. Although in theory, governments can always increase taxes to raise money, in Greece the tax office is part of the bloated, inefficient and corrupt bureaucracy.
David Close: When tax departments are inefficient they find it easier to raise revenue from lower income groups than from the very wealthy. So any increase in taxation results in an increase in hardship for lower income groups -- which is one reason why we're having riots and strikes at this moment. The people that mostly pay the income tax are public employees whose income is known. Mind you, small businessmen get persecuted terribly. I have a brother who's a businessman in Greece, and he moans bitterly about persecution by the tax department. But I suppose that's because he can't hire expensive accountants and lawyers to deal with the tax department on his behalf. Large-scale business are much more successful in dealing with the tax department.
Yanis Varoufakis: The problem here is quite simple. The rich don't pay taxes. They find a way of avoiding it. And then the poor, feeling that it is quite a legitimate Olympic sport of sorts, try to avoid the taxman. So there is this highly dysfunctional relationship between the Greek state and the Greek citizenry. Of course the problem lies with the Greek state, because even in Australia, if you allowed people to get away without paying taxes, I suspect a very large number of them would do exactly that. So there is a chronic problem of underpayment of taxes, particularly by private sector entrepreneurs, who find ways of avoiding taxation. And then if you add to that the fact that Greece has a very high poverty ratio. The number of people who fall below the poverty line, even before the crisis began, was the highest in the eurozone. These people can't pay tax because they don't earn enough. And those who earn enough have ways, including off-shore companies, that allow them to avoid tax payments.
Keri Phillips: I guess it's impossible to know how much tax isn't being paid, but would it have been of a scale that could have made a difference to the situation Greece finds itself in now?
Yanis Varoufakis: I think so. I think it would have made a difference because there is a way of measuring it: you just compare the proportion of GDP that is collected by the taxman in Greece to the equivalent proportion in the rest of Europe, and it is about 40 per cent less. Having said that I have to add that if Greece had in the last 15 years shaped up, it would have got rid of the many malignancies that typify our social economy including tax evasion, but not just that: bureaucracy, corruption, lack of competitiveness and so on and so forth; these are real problems that the Greek economy has had for a very long time -- even if we'd managed to undo all those problems, Greece would still be in trouble now. It would not have been the first domino to fall in the eurozone. But it would have been the second or third or the fourth.
The reason why you are talking to me now is not because of the malignancies of the Greek state and the Greek social economy, it is because of the euro crisis. This crisis would have gone on and on even if Greece was a model citizen. Look at Ireland. Ireland did not have a problem with tax evasion. Ireland did not have a problem with a corrupt state. Ireland had one of the most dynamic corporate sectors in the world; it was the so-called Irish Tiger I believe it was called -- a nonexistent animal. And yet it finds itself in the dock, sitting next to Greece, being accused of bankruptcy. So the problem is systemic, it's got to do with the euro system, which was never designed to sustain the major shock of the great financial crisis of 2008.
Keri Phillips: And if you'd like to know more about the euro and the story of the eurozone, there's a program on the Special Features page on the Rear Vision website -- abc.net.au/rn/rear vision. You can also find programs about carbon tax and carbon emissions trading, if you'd like to see how these things have worked overseas. And if that's not enough, follow us on Twitter by searching for RNRearVision. The guests on Rear Vision today were Dr David Close from Flinders University, Professor Kevin Featherstone from the London School of Economics and Yanis Varoufakis from the University of Athens.
After March 2011, when the insurgency against the Syrian Government began, the mainstream media and much of the supposed alternate newsmedia have attempted to depict the government of President Bashar al-Assad as a corrupt and brutal regime hated by the people of Syria.
If the Syrian government was as hated by the Syrian people as Samantha Power and the newsmedia have been claiming for most of the last three years, how could it have held on to power for more than a few months? This alone shows the mainstream media foreign 'reporters' to have been lying about Syria as they lied about Libya and, before that, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Since March 2011, there have frequently been public demonstrations by large numbers of Syrians, showing their support for their Government and calling on the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia and their allies to stop supplying weapons to the foreign insurgents. On such demonstration occurred only 2 days ago. It is shown in the embedded Youtube video below.
At the moment the Syrian Army is winning the war, but they have won at the terrible cost of 130,000 lives lost so far in almost three years. There can be no guarantee that even a people as resilient as the Syrians have shown themselves to be, can continue to fight and sacrifice themselves indefinitely against the hordes of foreign mercenaries and jihadist terrorists being sent to Syria.
Furthermore, if the US-instigated regime change succeeds in Ukraine, Syria's ally Russia will be weakened and less able to support her.
Unlike Australia and Greece, #SyriaDefiesImf">Syria refused to bow to the dictates of the IMF
The only guarantee of victory for Syria in the longer term, is for the people of the Western nations, from which the terrorists are being supplied, to hold those governments to account through the Internet, the mass media and public protests and ultimately to throw them from office. A story on PressTV story Greek workers hold anti-austerity demo in Athens (25/2/2014) gives much cause for hope.
One reason for the hostility of the Western Military Alliance is that the Syrian Government, unlike the Greek Government, refused to be dictated to by the likes of Christine Lagarde, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The IMF which dictated these economically ruinous austerity policies to the Greek Government. (Iceland also defied the dictates of the IMF in September 2013 and found it was able to overcome its economic difficulties far better than other other countries which had accepted IMF loans and the attached conditions.)
One reason for the hostility of the Western Military Alliance is that the Syrian Government, unlike the Greek Government, refused to be dictated to by the likes of Christine Lagarde, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund which dictated these austerity policies to the Greek Government. Christine Lagarde appeared on ABC Television's Q & A program on Tuesday 18 February in order to defend her policies before a studio and domestic audience. The IMF is still dictated by the arcane Friedmanite dogma that by sacking public servants and slashing government services, the supposedly more efficient private sector will fill the gap left and provide the services far more cost-effectively, thereby increasing prosperity for all.
Christine Lagarde's case fared badly against some well-worded questions from members of the audience. Had the discussion been allowed to proceed to its conclusion in more time than the one hour allowed by Q & A, Lagarde would have been completely demolished.
In turn, Olympic Air apologized to the crew of the plane and the official and media delegation, saying that the delay was caused by reasons beyond its control, adding that the plane has been refueled and took off towards its original destination.
The private plane carrying the delegation left Syria on Tuesday morning and landed at Athens International Airport around 12 PM Damascus time. Upon its arrival there, the pilot was informed that it cannot be refueled due to the European sanctions imposed on Syria, despite having all the proper clearances for entering the airspace of the concerned countries and landing and refueling at the aforementioned airport. This caused the plane to wait for four hours.
The official delegation informed the UN office in Geneva of the situation, and that the office promised to make the necessary calls to ensure that the plane is refueled.
This delay resulted in the head of the delegation, Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign and Expatriates Minister Walid al-Moallem, being unable to reach Montreux, Switzerland, in time for his scheduled meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the eve of the begining of the international conference on Syria "Geneva 2."
Europe's current debt crisis has been blatantly caused by well known financially reckless governments. But the problem of the reckless is being allowed to drag down sound responsible economic states into bailing out the financially reckless ones. Why?
Why dig a bigger hole? The only benefit offered is to maintain unity for unity sake. But the 'rescue package' repeatedly talked about does not address the underlying causes of the financial problem, nor entail removing the culpable captains of the reckless spending and borrowing. It is past time to cut the tether to prevent the ship sinking.
Ireland, Portugal, Greece, Spain and Italy have all but become insolvent sovereign states. Since their respective governments allowed their debt to spiral out of sovereign control, they have breached the European governance standards of being sovereign members. They should be declared bankrupt and expelled from the European Economic Community.
But do reckless governments have a representative right of the people to make responsible decisions? No. So the vote needs to be democratic.
The vote is one of direct democracy.
Instead, European 'groupthink' has prevailed into a 'eurothink' allowing the euro zone debt crisis to escalate. Ultimately, the governments of sound financial managers Germany and France are retrospectively assuming guarantor financial responsibility for reckless gamblers - Ireland, Spain, Greece, Portugal and Italy.
But government aristocrats have no democratic right to commit their people to external debt, with a plebiscite. Going guarantor for the hundreds of billions of unpayable debt of these countries means raising taxes, and sovereign financial exposure (bonds) to another countries debt.
The euphemism 'rescue package' is misleading.
Germany needs to get out quick or be dragged into a spiral of uncontrollable debt.
No responsible leader in Europe has yet postulated the ultimate risk scenario for Europe, but it is very real. Is it worse for insolvent member countries to be expelled from the EEC, or for Europe to financially collapse outright?
Europe's government aristocracies are transfixed in 'Eurothink' and the people recognise this whole issue as patently anti-democratic.
When it comes to ultimate risk, the consequences for group-think decision-making, risk becoming catastrophic.