The composition of the new SYRIZA – ANEL government was announced around midnight by Mrs. Olga Gerovasili
Sept 23, 2015
The new Tsipras government
It has a total 46 members: Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Deputy Premier Yiannis Dragasakis, 16 Ministers, 16 Alternate Ministers and 12 Deputy Ministers.
The new government will be sworn in on Wednesday, at 10:30 am local (0730 GMT)
Deputy Prime Minister
Minister: Panagiotis Kouroublis
Alternate Minister (Civil Service Reform): Christophoros Vernardakis
Alternate Minister (Citizen Protection): Nikos Toskas
Alternate Minister (Migration Policy): Yiannis Mouzalas
Deputy Minister: Yiannis Balafas
Deputy Minister (Macedonia-Thrace): Maria Kollia-Tsaroucha
Economy, Development and Tourism
Minister: George Stathakis
Alternate Minister (Tourism): Elena Koundoura
Deputy Minister (National Strategic Reference Framework [EU aid]): Alexis Haritsis
Deputy Minister (Industry): Theodora Tzakri
Minister: Panos Kammenos
Alternate Minister: Dimitris Vitsas
Education, Research and Religious Affairs
Minister: Nikos Filis
Alternate Minister: Sia Anagnostopoulou
Alternate Minister (Research and Innovation): Costas Fotakis
Deputy Minister: Theodossis Pelegrinis
Minister: Nikos Kotzias
Alternate Minister (European Affairs): Nikos Xydakis
Deputy Minister: Dimitris Mardas
Deputy Minister: Yiannis Amanatidis
Justice, Transparency and Human Rights
Minister: Nikos Paraskevopoulos
Alternate Minister (Corruption): Dimitris Papangelopoulos
Labour, Social security and Social Solidarity
Minister: George Katrougalos
Alternate Minister (Social Solidarity): Theano Fotiou
Alternate Minister (Unemployment): Rania Antonopoulou
Deputy Minister (Social Security): Anastassios Petropoulos
Minister: Andreas Xanthos
Alternate Minister: Pavlos Polakis
Culture and Sports
Minister: Aristides Baltas
Deputy Minister (Sports): Stavros Kontonis
Minister: Euclid Tsakalotos
Alternate Minister: Tryfon Alexiadis
Alternate Minister: George Chouliarakis
Environment and Energy
Minister: Panos Skourletis
Alternate Minister (Environment): Yiannis Tsironis
Infrastructure, Transport and Networks
Minister: Christos Spirtzis
Deputy Minister: Dimitris Kammenos
Shipping and Island Policy
Minister: Theodoros Dritsas
Agricultural Development and Foods
Minister: Vangelis Apostolou
Alternate Minister: Markos Bolaris
Minister of State
Minister of State for Coordinating Government Operations
Deputy Minister to the Prime Minister
Deputy Minister to the Prime Minister and Government Spokeswoman
THE LEFT GOVERNMENT UNDER NEW CONDITIONS: A STRONGHOLD TO DEFEND
SYRIZA INTRODUCTION TO THE GOVERNMENTAL PROGRAM SEPTEMBER 2015
Sept. 8th 2015
The 25th of January marked a political shift without precedent for the political situation in Greece and Europe. For the first time after the 2nd World War a radical left party managed to ascend in government against a backdrop of generalized economic, political and social crisis.
The last 5-year period of memorandum policies dislocated traditional political and social representations and destroyed the social coalition which actively or passively supported the neoliberal process of Greek economy’s restructuring and relevant social and political relations of the last 25 years.
And all this went on as the mild and gradual restructuring process was replaced by a brutal program of rapid structural adjustments and internal devaluation that did not leave any margin for possible material equivalents (low-rate borrowing, tax exemptions, state-organized evasion, limited wage increase etc) for those social classes that supported the neoliberal power coalition during the previous period. At the same time, the collapse of the previous social and political alliances coexisted with the rise of popular volition for collective mobilization, both traditional (strikes, demonstrations) and novel ones (Constitution Square, social solidarity initiatives). In this context of rising popular struggles, SYRIZA understood that the time has come for the left to undertake the initiative of representing a new social alliance, which seemed to have the potential to seize governmental power. And this was exactly what happened. The political program which accelerated and completed the social rearrangement that was taking place was the Program of Thessaloniki with its four pillars: Addressing the humanitarian crisis, restarting the economy, restoring the labor law and reconstructing democratically the state. It was a program aimed at a redistribution of income and power in favor of classes that had suffered major blows by the Memorandum policy.
However, it was always a fact that in order to implement this program, a tough negotiation with the Creditors was required, so as to eliminate the principal leverage for enforcing fiscal adjustment programs: Debt and the Greek economy’s exclusion from capital markets.
However, the weapon of financial asphyxiation was used very effectively by the Creditors and the Institutions throughout the whole negotiating process of the new Government. Once SYRIZA assumed power, funding suffocation from the ECB and the constant threat of a collapse of the country’s financial system was put on use in order to exercise economic and social pressure on the new Government.
The aim was either its overthrowing or its unconditional surrender and the adoption of the previous fiscal adjustment and internal devaluation program. Despite our limited forces we tried to defend ourselves in any way possible against these pressures while showcasing a novel political ethos and a new social perspective both domestically and abroad. With regard to the negotiation, despite time wasting and possible tactical failures, we did everything that was in our hand to withstand financial asphyxiation (delaying payments to the IMF, refusing to extend the previous bailout agreement, imposing capital controls so as to protect the banking system from ECB’s financial blackmail), as well as all that was needed in order to send a political message to Europe that the internal devaluation program has failed and does not enjoy any popular support. This political struggle’s culmination was the referendum on the 5th of July, a moment of popular uplifting and fighting spirit that will stay indelible in the memory of European peoples and will produce its political results in the near future. A prerequisite for this, however, is that the referendum should not work in the opposite direction, meaning that it should not become a reason for the frustration of the popular classes, since the aftermath did not comply with the initial enthusiasm.
The struggle during and after the referendum for framing these events with an interpretation should not be taken lightly as there are political forces distorting the reasons for the referendum and its result with the main objective to usurp it and use it as a political vehicle for surviving as opposition. It is therefore necessary to remember that the referendum’s declared objective was to strengthen the government’s bargaining position in an unequal and asymmetrical negotiation. We never asserted anything different; we never said that we ask for a mandate in order to blow up the Eurozone, killing in the process first of all ourselves. We asked instead for the rejection of a program of horizontal cuts and tax hikes accompanied by a politically driven feasibility study of the Greek debt which imposed high primary surpluses and by insufficient funding under the old program (the bailout agreement of 2012) which would be extended for just five more months, thus maintaining the economic uncertainty and simply deferring the risk of a Grexit to the near future. And it was exactly this kind of mandate that we received from the Greek people: to reject this specific proposal of the Institutions, gaining a better but feasible deal, without endangering a broad social disaster, given the extremely negative European context.
3. The blackmailing dilemma
Following the referendum result, we found ourselves in an absolutely hostile European political landscape while faced with the punitive attitude of the Creditors and the Institutions. With banks under capital controls, ECB’s Emergency Liquidity Assistance suspended, hanging above us the threat of a haircut on Greek bonds that are put as collateral to the ECB to provide liquidity to the Central Bank of Greece and Greek banks, the IMF pressing for the repayment of the delayed June 30th debt tranche under threat of declaring Greece in default, access to markets of course impossible, and all EU governments blackmailing the Greek government, we were faced with the following dilemma:
Either sign an agreement that it was improved concerning the institutional framework and the funding provisions (86 bn for three years instead of 5 bn for 5 months) and troubling –to say the least– regarding measures, or lead the country to disorderly default with unpredictable consequences for the future i.e. possible collapse of (some of) the systemic banks, bail-in for the remaining depositors, exit from the Eurozone while lacking any backstop for the new currency, and therefore an acute social and political crisis that would most possibly lead to Government collapse and humanitarian crisis. The dilemma posed to us was not Memorandum or drachma, but Memorandum either with the euro or the drachma (Schaeuble’s proposal) or disorderly default.
So, we had to choose either a tactical retreat in order to preserve the hope of prevailing in an asymmetrical political battle or burden the Left with the historic failure of making a social desert out of the country. We bore our part of the responsibility and chose the first. That’s why we ask to be judged by the Greek people.
4. The Agreement with the Creditors
What is actually included in the new agreement we signed with the Creditors? Is it really, as claimed by some, the worst of all three Memoranda? Is the allegation true, that it accelerates and completes a program of structural adjustments that will not only maintain poverty and the humanitarian crisis but will also organize the conditions of its management in the future? Without harboring illusions about the content of the agreement, these allegations constitute nothing more than political exaggerations which are obviously understandable given the circumstances.
They do not, however, in any case, capture reality as a whole and since they are usually unsubstantiated, they do not contribute to the necessary concrete analysis of the particular situation that has been formed for both the Left and the social forces the latter wants to represent. This particular agreement, signed under coup conditions, following an unprecedented blackmail during the negotiations with the Creditors, crystallizes the specific balance of forces that was recently formed in the context of the Eurozone. And as it is known, it is impossible for anyone to escape that kind of balance, i.e. reality itself. So in every aspect, in every chapter and every provision, the agreement reflects the results of this asymmetric negotiation, the will of the creditors for a complete dislocation of the social and employment protection system as well as the will of the Greek Government to resist this prospect.
With regard to the first part of the Agreement, the Bailout Agreement, the Greek government managed to avert the plan of a permanent financial blackmail supported by extremely reactionary European circles – mainly the Schaeuble fraction ‒ and which remained active until the EuroGroup of August the 14th. According to this plan, Greece should either settle for a five-month extension program of the previous bailout agreement or proceed after the 12th of July with consecutive financing-bridges that would prolong the uncertainty and would constantly reinforce the Creditors’ blackmailing potential for imposing even more recessionary and antisocial measures.
On the contrary, after strong resistance but also because of particular political initiatives which mobilized any democratic reflexes that remain in the real existing Europe, we succeeded to secure on the one hand a change in the institutional-legal framework with a new bailout agreement and on the other hand a three-year funding covering both external financing needs and domestic liabilities concerning mainly the State’s debts to suppliers and contractors. Specifically, the new legal institutional framework of the bailout agreement ends the disgrace of the previous, of a colonial character, agreements with the EFSF (public limited liability company), since from now on Greece has a contract with the ESM, i.e. an international organization, with whom the contractual relationship of the country is governed by the international and European law, and moreover the protection ensured by the immunities and privileges of the Greek Republic and the Bank of Greece against its international creditors is retrieved.
We are dealing here with a completely new relationship which meets all the international protection standards laid down in similar cases. At the same time, while the second part of the Agreement, namely the Annex of the bailout agreement, is indeed a harsh program continuing the policy of austerity, there are some ‒limited of course– benefits for the social majority, where for a wide range of issues, the specifics of implementation will depend on future negotiations between Greece and the Creditors: thus emerges a large field open to policy configurations and social struggles in defense of the wage earners, the selfemployed and public property (equivalent measures for pension system, labor relations, tax system and utilization of the public property). A positive point of the agreement is also the adjustment of primary surpluses achieved after strong negotiating pressures from the Greek government. Under the agreement, the fiscal targets set are a primary deficit of 0.25% for the year 2015 and primary surpluses of 0.5% for 2016, 1.75% for 2017 and 3.5% for 2018.
This is an important reduction of the country’s obligations as the previous program anticipated primary surpluses of 3% for the year 2015 and approximately 4.5% by the year 2018. And because the size of the primary surplus is nothing else but a numerical index of the size of austerity, we have ensured in comparison a clearly milder adjustment that reduces the likelihood of new blackmails for the application of new horizontal measures for the years ahead. Finally, for the first time the agreement sets a clear timetable for initiating discussions addressing the reduction of the public debt and the conditions for its repayment. It is precisely in this area where we will have to fight hard in order to achieve a positive outcome that could reshape the framework of the country’s relations with its Creditors.
That is because a positive agreement reducing Greek debt would erode the technology of power on the basis of which the harsh austerity and internal devaluation programs were imposed during these last five years. In this struggle it is crucial to build on the new political situation taking shape in Europe after the negotiation, as new dividing lines within European political families have emerged this last semester.
5. Is there an alternative?
Many people naturally blame SYRIZA that the choice of signing the new Agreement vindicates the Thatcherite “There Is No Alternative” beyond and against the neoliberal imperatives. In the short history of SYRIZA there has never been a more deliberate and extreme misrepresentation than this. This saying of Thatcher means nothing more and nothing less that neoliberalism, extreme individualism and the hunt of personal gain represents the only way, the only road to social welfare. This quote implies that any other way leads to loss of freedom, totalitarianism and social misery. SYRIZA and its government have never embraced this political and ideological attitude. It is one thing to accept neoliberalism as a strategic horizon, as the sole road to social welfare and another to accept that in a certain moment in time, with a given balance of political forces, one has to make a tactical and temporary compromise so as to be in a position to keep fighting preserving the possibility and the opportunity of prevailing.
So yes, there is an alternative, there is another way to organize societies and economies. This way passes through the redistribution of wealth and power to the subordinate classes, the wage-earners of the public and private sector, the self- employed and the pensioners; through the reinforcement of forms of social economy that contest the model of unmasked or veiled hierarchy (and therefore power) inside the enterprise and offer a way out to the creativity of the overqualified and unemployed youth; through the protection of the common goods that one by one become the target of capital; through the support of the welfare state but also the extension and deepening of social rights and democratic liberties. This road presupposes an ongoing and integral relationship with the movements of the subordinate classes, close contact with the theoretical elaborations of Left intellectuals but also an organized mass party, open to the world of labor and the young.
This is the kind of party that we should help build, if we want to have chances of success in the long and difficult class struggle that lies before us. All things considered, the road to social emancipation particularly under crisis conditions is not easy and it will not be short. You may need to accelerate or slow down, it has turns, u-turns and dead-ends, it is not linear, but bifurcated and rough. We’ll have to pave the way based on the experiences of the labor and left movement of the 19th, 20th, 21st centuries, but also on our own experiences. On those accumulated during the last six months with our rights and wrongs, our successes and failures. For our struggle during these six months was hard, painful and avowedly emblematic for all the people of Europe and the world that look forward to and fight for the overthrow of the global neoliberal hegemony.
Small Greece gave (and keeps giving) a political struggle that goes well beyond its size and will go down to history. It has befallen to us to be the protagonists in the resistance against the globalized financial capital, at the dawn of a new historical period that may have started with the financial crisis of 2008. Whether eventually our struggle proves to be the beginning of a new period or the end of the last one, it will not be said but only afterwards and will depend on the outcome of social and political struggles. History produces itself only in hindsight, when the dust of battle has settled and a new balance establishes itself. And this balance is way ahead yet.
6. The situation in Europe:
Towards a rearrangement of the balance of power It was exactly the negotiation of the Greek government these last months that pointed to the current limits of the real existing Europe, the cruelty of the mechanisms enforcing neoliberalism and the utterly disadvantaged political power ratio at the level of the institutions and the various governments. Despite these, for the first time a government of a member-state of the EU and the Eurozone, has directly questioned this power ratio and the policies it imposes, i.e. aggressive austerity, tough fiscal discipline and internal devaluation. It was exactly this questioning that not by chance monopolized the world’s interest for the whole six months and at the same time triggered a great political debate inside Europe and the Institutions.
This debate brought out deep cracks inside European social-democratic parties, polarized parts of European Greens toward the Left, mobilized broader social forces that stood by the Greek government’s battle, while at the same time it rallied intellectuals from around the world that not only supported politically, but also deepened theoretically the critique against extreme neoliberalism and austerity. At the same moment the Greek issue revealed the hegemonic role that Germany plays at imposing fiscal adjustment programs and forced its political elite to spend much of its political capital to create the conditions to effectively blackmail the first left government in the European continent since the 2nd World War.
The negotiating attempt revealed also the deliberate structural constraints and the political nature of the European Central Bank, that since it does not work as lender of last resort for the members of the Eurozone, it serves in reality the role of an institutional liquidity blackmailer for members of the Eurosystem that question the neoliberal direction of European policies. It is these points exactly that trigger a broad debate as well as political conflicts that may lead in the future to a generalized crisis of the European project given the determination of parts of the European elite to advance the federalization process of Europe (Banking Union, Finance Minister, strengthening of the EU Commission) understood in terms of deepening the neoliberal project. In these conflicts, Greece should play a protagonist role aiming to sharpen EU’s and Eurozone’s contradictions, mobilizing political and social forces to resist, question and transform European institutions. A prerequisite though, for this kind of struggle is for the Left to stay in government.
For it is only the Left that can act as a catalyst for radical developments in the political battlefield of today’s Europe. On the contrary, a restoration of old political establishment forces in our country will exclude for years to come the chance of constructing a large and internationalist pan-european movement with a claim to success in the great struggles ahead of us.
7. The political situation in Greece
The true political dilemma the Left has to face now is whether to shy away from the unfavorable political and social power ratio in Europe, thus allowing for the restoration of the bourgeois political system in Greece or to fight as one in order to achieve a disengagement from neoliberalism and the memorandum policy of austerity from a government position. The answer to this question must take into account that a possible restoration of the bourgeois parties in the country will prove a defeat of historical proportions for the Left that will likely cancel the prospects opened by the electoral – political victory of January the 25th.
This does not in any way mean that the necessary victory in the elections of September the 20th does not entail risks of its own:
The risks of the party’s political mutation under pressure of an adverse context but also under the constraints imposed by the new Memorandum, the erosion of the party and its cutting off from the working and popular strata seeking to represent, its conversion to just a mild manager of the memorandum neoliberalism. This is a real danger that we should carefully consider in our effort to play a leading role, all the more from government positions, in the struggle of the Greek people to transform the power relations in our country and abroad.
The other option, however, may turn out to be historically devastating for the workers, as a return to power of the old political system would most certainly enact punitive and vindictive policies towards the left and the popular strata, shifting irreversibly the social and political power ratio against the social majority. It is precisely for this reason that despite the really existing problems of our party, we are forced by reality itself to fight with resolve in order to prevail in the upcoming elections; by rallying our base and showing perseverance, while acknowledging both our existent weaknesses and the strategic dilemmas we face after the imposition of the new Memorandum.
The aim of SYRIZA is to implement, though not in the same terms due to the sevenmonth negotiating and governmental experience, a four-year government program so as to disengage from neoliberalism and austerity, to initiate a radical democratic transformation of the state, while finding solutions to mitigate the effects of the Agreement; to implement policies supporting the social majority and constantly shifting the power ratio in favor of the forces of labor. It is precisely for the implementation of this program that the Government of the Left constitutes a stronghold to defend.
A crucial stronghold in the long struggle against the neoliberal model pursued by the dominant powers in Greece and Europe. The state is not a fortress but a network, a relationship and a strategic field for the political struggle. It does not change from one day to another, its necessary transformation requires sustained and continuing struggles, engagement of the people, constant democratization. Like neoliberalism that conquered the world through continuous restructurings and breakthroughs that lasted four decades, in the same way the strategic goal of the radical Left, the economy of needs that is interlinked with the broadening and deepening of direct and indirect democracy at all possible fields, takes time, persistence and perseverance in order to gain ground in the real-existing Europe of austerity and neoliberalism, in a world governed by the logic of production for exchange and profit.
Therefore, in these circumstances, SYRIZA’s government program tries to provide solutions, find answers and pave the way setting as its non negotiable horizon the social and political emancipation of labor and youth.
Friday 6 FEB 2015
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras: Austerity is not a rule in European Union
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras addressed to his European Union allies yesterday Thursday, pledging to «put an end once and for all» to the EU’s austerity policies.
Alexis Tsipras in his first speech to his new parliamentary group after returning from a European tour said Athens was no longer open to being told what to do.
«Greece won’t take orders any more, especially orders through emails,» he said. «Greece is no longer the miserable partner who listens to lectures to do its homework. Greece has its own voice».
In an apparent reference to the tough stance taken by the European Central Bank and others, Tspiras said: «Greece cannot blackmailed because democracy in Europe cannot be blackmailed.»
Tsipras and finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, have been crisscrossing Europe to win support from partners for their plan to win debt relief and end austerity policies.
«In only a week we won allies that we haven’t won in the last five years of the crisis,» the Prime Minister said.
Wednesday 28 Jan 2015
We are a Government of Social Salvation, said Greek PM Alexis Tsipras in
First Cabinet Meeting
We are a social salvation government, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Wednesday in his speech at the first cabinet meeting of his government.
The Prime Minister underlined there is a four-year reform plan; he noted he would work for balanced budgets without deficits and at the same time without exhausting surpluses. The first priority however, is to address the humanitarian crisis, he said and stressed that “the people demand we bleed in order to defend its dignity.”
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras turned to his ministers and stressed the difficulty of their work, characteristically stating “we need to bleed.” He then emphasized the four priorities of the Greek government:
– a return to dignity for all citizens
– the support of the economy
– renegotiating the Greek debt
– getting rid of corruption
Turning on domestic issues, Tsipras said he will restore minimum wage to €751 and will abolish the law suspending civil servants and will rehire those who were laid off “unlawfully.” He also said he will freeze some planned or ongoing privatizations, including the sale of power utility PPC.
Mr. Tsipras also noted that the result of the elections had a strong international impact and estimated that the international climate has been changing, the country has been regaining its international status and its self-confidence and has been building its alliances. He stated that he was ready to discuss with all parties and added, he welcomed Martin Schulz who is visiting Athens on Thursday and Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem who is coming on Friday.
He concluded his speech by stating that his government would be one of “national salvation.” He made it clear that the government had no right to quash the hopes of the Greek people and must make good on its pledges.
The core 15-member cabinet, plans to meet every week, without deputy and alternate ministers or undersecretaries.
Monday 26, Jan 2015
Greece’s new prime minister Alexis Tsipras wants Germany to pay for Nazi war crimes
After the seismic victory of Greece’s leftist Syriza party in national polling Sunday, the country’s new prime minister, 40-year-old Alexis Tsipras, is leading all of Europe down an uncertain path.
Syriza has vowed to renegotiate the crippling debts saddled on the Greek economy by European lenders — a move that some fear could threaten the unity of the eurozone. Tsipras and his allies, meanwhile, see their ascension as a historic opportunity, as WorldViews discussed here.
But it’s not just the future that’s on Syriza’s agenda. In what was virtually his first act as prime minister Monday, Tsipras journeyed to the memorial site at the Kaisariani rifle range, where in 1944 Nazi soldiers executed some 200 Greek activists in retaliation for the death of a German officer killed in a Greek ambush.
The visit was drenched in symbolism. The past half-decade of crippling austerity in Greece is the consequence of terms dictated by the «troika» — the European Commission, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Germany, Europe’s largest economy, played a key role in delivering Greece’s bailout and enforcing its strict conditions. Ill will toward Germany is high in Greece, where ordinary citizens blame their country’s dire economic state in part on the high-handed policies of a distant European elite.
Syriza, in particular, has been outspoken about the need for Germany to atone for its past in Greece, or at least show a bit more leniency now as compensation. Tsipras has campaigned on the issue for more than a year, including in the build-up to Sunday’s election. «We are going to demand debt reduction, and the money Germany owes us from World War II, including reparations,» he said earlier this month.
A 2013 study carried out by the previous Greek government of defeated Prime Minister Antonis Samaras estimated that Germany owed Greece some $200 billion for damages incurred during the Nazi occupation, the cost of rebuilding destroyed infrastructure as well as loans Nazi authorities forced Greece to pay between 1942 and 1944. The Samaras government, whose critics accused of being handmaidens to Brussels’ harsh mandates, did little with the report. Another advocacy group claims that the sum owed to Greece could be as much as $677 billion.
But Syriza may likely invoke this legacy in its bid to win greater debt forgiveness now. It has the sympathy, at least, of German leftists. «From a moral point of view, Germany ought to pay off these old compensations and the ‘war loan’ that they got during the Occupation,» said Gabriele Zimmer, a leading member of Die Linke, a socialist German party that is allied with Syriza in the European parliament.
As is often the case, though, the question of reparations is a fraught one. Not many countries have received reparations from Germany, which itself was ravaged by the war and then carved up by the victorious Allies.
According to the New York Times, some experts believe that as many as 300,000 Greeks starved to death during the Nazi occupation. Brutal reprisals like that carried out at the Kaisariani site were not uncommon, given the active nature of Greece’s resistance movement.
Syriza’s grandstanding on the issue can also be read as a savvy move to win over nationalist voters who would perhaps otherwise not favor the leftists. The far-right Golden Dawn party, which has neo-Nazi origins, polled far behind Syriza, but still came in third among the country’s many jostling parties.
«It is our duty to pay homage and not forget that the European peoples live free and have defeated the specter of intolerance, the dark ideology of fascism,» Tsipras said last April, ahead of European elections. «There were thousands of those who sacrificed their lives in our country.»
That battle against «fascism» may have been won once more Sunday, but Tsipras and Syriza have long a fight ahead of them to win the larger concessions they now demand.
source: washingtonpost newspaper
Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras sworn in as prime minister, forms coalition government with Independent Greeks
Greek left-wing leader Alexis Tsipras has been sworn in as prime minister after agreeing to create a coalition with a right-wing party to form a new hardline, anti-bailout government and end nearly five years of austerity measures
At the age of 40, he becomes the youngest Greek prime minister in 150 years.
Mr Tsipras, characteristically without a tie, also broke with tradition by taking a civil instead of a religious oath, pledging to «always serve the interests of the Greek people».
Alexis Tsipras visits war memorial in symbolic first act as PM
The 4o-year-old PM laid roses on the monument in a symbolic first act as prime minister, SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras visited a National WWII Resistance Memorial for the fallen at the Kaisariani shooting range, in east Athens.
The 4o-year-old PM laid roses at the monument in homage to those executed there in 1944, during the Nazi occupation (1941-1944).
The memorial in Kaisariani was erected at the former shooting range, where numerous wartime resistance fighters had been executed by Nazi forces.
On May 1, 1944, 200 political prisoners were executed by the German Nazi forces.
Syriza Forms Coalition Government With Anti-Bailout »Independent Greeks»
There was some excitement in the capital markets overnight, when what was initially seen as an outright victory for Syriza, giving it an absolute, 151-seat majority in parliament – a fear that briefly pushed the EURUSD under 1.11 when the Euro PPT stepped in – ended up being a placing just shy of a majority with 149 seats. However, that same excitement fizzled several hours ago when the «radical left» party agreed to form a government with the «rightwing» group of the Independent Greeks in the aftermath of Syriza’s historic win which harnessed the public backlash against years of belt-tightening, job losses and hardship.
As the FT reports, Panos Kammenos, leader of the fiercely anti-bailout Independent Greeks, said as he left Syriza’s headquarters after a meeting with Alexis Tsipras, the prime minister-elect: “The country has a government. Independent Greeks will give a vote of confidence to Alexis Tsipras.” The deal would give Syriza a comfortable working majority in parliament but Mr Tsipras has yet to confirm anything as he continued coalition negotiations with other parties.
So in a parliament in which the nationalist Golden Dawn placed third, the new leadership will be comprised of a far left and a far right group, both united by the hatred of European bailouts and the stifling Greek economy, both of which they are eager to blame on Germany and the Troika.
Despite their ideological differences, the two leaders established regular contacts while the previous centre-right New Democracy government was in office, based on their shared stance that Greece should abandon austerity and seek a debt write-off, while remaining a member of the eurozone.
Mr Kammenos, a former deputy merchant marine minister in a New Democracy government, left the party in 2012 to set up his own party, taking a handful of lawmakers with him.
This means that any potential agreement with the next party Tsipras is looking to work alongside, the new To Potami party, becomes of secondary importance:
Mr Tsipras was meeting Stavros Theodorakis, leader of the centre-left To Potami (The River) party later in the day to discuss possible co-operation. Mr Theodorakis has refused to participate in a Syriza-led government but could offer support even if his party is not part of a formal coalition. To Potami finished fourth in the election with 6.4 per cent of the vote and 17 seats.
And while bankers across Europe were fast to talk down the possibility of a hardline Syriza, having failed to get those two elusive seats, the fact that it has aligned itself with a just as rabid anti-Europe party will actually end up forcing Tsipras hand to deliver on at least some of his anti-bailout, anti-Troika, promises, all of which Germany has shot down apriori.
SYRIZA party leader Alexis Tsipras wrote in an article published on Tuesday in Germany’s business daily ( HANDELSBLATT)
»German taxpayers have nothing to fear from SYRIZA government»
«Dear readers of Handelsblatt,
I am aware that most of you will have
already formed an opinion about what you will read in this article. I urge you,
however, to read it without prejudice. Prejudice was never good counselor, let
alone at a time when the economic crisis strengthens, breeding intolerance,
nationalism, obscurantism, the same violence.
With this open letter I wish to give you a different
narrative than what you know, about what happened to Greece from 2010 onwards.
Above all I wish to testify truthfully what Syriza will propose and pursue, if
on January 26, is the elected in the Greek government.
In 2010 the Greek state ceased being able to serve its debt.
Unfortunately, the officials in Europe decided to pretend that this problem
could be overcome by the largest loan in human history and financial measures
that, with mathematical precision, would shrink the national income of which both
new and old loans had to be repaid. A bankruptcy problem was treated as if it
were a liquidity problem. In other words, the culture of evil banker was adopted in which, instead of
admitting that loan were provided to a bankrupt company had «popped»,
he continues the lending pretending that old loans remain serviced and deepening
the bankruptcy further.
Common sense shows that the application of the doctrine
«extend and pretend» in the case of my country would end in tragedy. It shows
also that instead of the stabilization of Greece, a self-reinforced crisis was
created that has undermined the foundations of a united Europe. Our party, and
myself, disagreed with the Loan Agreement of May 2010, not because Germany and
our other partners did not give us enough money but because you gave us a lot
more money than needed, and what was right for us to accept. Money which
wouldn’t help the Greek people, as they fell into the black hole of debt, nor
would it stop the continued expansion of debt that our partners are now forced
to sustain in perpetuity at great cost to their citizens.
And the German government knew this quite well but never
revealed to you.
Indeed, less than a year later, in 2011, our predictions
were verified. The combination of huge new loans and hard cuts not only failed
to reduce the debt but also punished the weakest citizens, turning average
people with jobs and homes to homeless unemployed who lost, above all, their
dignity. The collapse of incomes has led to the bankruptcy of thousands of
companies thereby concentrating wealth and power to the few that survived.
Thus, prices decreased less than income and debts, public and private,
increased. Against this backdrop, where the hope deficit surpassed all other
deficits, not much time passed before hatched the «egg of the snake»
– the neo-Nazis started patrolling neighborhoods sowing hatred.
Despite its obvious failure, the logic of «pretend and
extend» is systematically applied today. The second loan agreement of
2012, loaded yet another huge amount of debt to lean shoulders of Greek state,
«mowing» the pension funds, deepened recession further, and funded a
new cleptocracy with the funds borrowed from our partners.
Serious commentators spoke recently about stabilization, and
even growth for my country, «proving» that the policies were
successful. No serious analysis does support this virtual «reality.»
The recent increase in real national income by 0.7% marks not the end of the
recession but the continuation, since it was achieved in a period of inflation
equal to -1.8% – which means that, in euros, national income has continued to
decline (simply decreases by less than average prices) while debts grow. This «Greek Statistic» that was used to show that the politicies troika in Greece were
successful, is offensive to all European who need to learn the truth , at last.
And the truth is that the public debt of Greece can not be serviced
as the Greek social economy is in constant fiscal waterboarding. The
persistence of these dead end, misanthropic policies, the denial of simple
arithmetic, costs the German taxpayer a lot, while condemning a proud people to
indignity. And the worst: In this way the Greeks are turning against the
Germans, the Germans against the Greeks, and the idea of a democratic united
Europe suffers cruelly.
Germany, in particular the hard-working German taxpayer has
nothing to fear from a government SYRIZA. The opposite is true. Our goal is not to conflict with our partners. Our goal is not more loans, not the right to new deficits. Our goal is to stabilize the primary balanced budgets and, of course,
to stop the bleeding of taxpayers caused for four years now by an unenforceable
loan agreement both in Greece and in Germany. We will require the end of the
doctrine «expand and pretend» not against the German people but for
the benefit of us all.
I know dear readers that behind the demands for «strict application of the agreements” lies the anguish hiding that «if we let the Greeks do what they want, they will do the same again. » I understand this anxiety. But it was not SYRIZA that supported cleptocracy and cronyism in my country, which are now supposedly trying hard to observe the agreements and the reforms, as long as they do not touch them, of course, as has happened in the last four years with the reforms by troika and the Samara government. We are ready to collide with this system in order to promote sweeping reforms in the state, public administration transparency, meritocracy, tax justice, fight against black market. These reforms will put the crisis of our citizens in the upcoming elections.
Our goal is, within the Eurozone, a New Deal for the entire Eurozone within which our own people can breathe, create, and live with dignity. With a socially sustainable debt. With funding for growth, which is the only way out of the crisis unlike the failed recipe where austerity recycles recession. By strengthening social cohesion. With more Solidarity and Democracy. On January 25 in Greece, an opportunity for Europe will be born Let us not miss it »
Alexis Tsipras: “The people will write history on Sunday” updated May 23th
Opposition leader argues elections on Sunday “are the referendum for the bailout that never happened».
The leader of the opposition Alexis Tsipras (‘’SYRIZA’’) gave his main election campaign speech before a crowd of tens of thousands in Omonia Square on Thursday May 22nd evening and estimated that “the people will write history on Sunday”.
Mr. Tsipras accused the coalition government partners New Democracy and PASOK of adopting a divisive discourse and acting as agents of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The SYRIZA leader repeated his party’s “electoral dilemma’’: ‘’SYRIZA now or never-ending austerity, dignity now or never-ending subservience” and urged his audience “to stop them, it is a matter of survival”.
In his speech Alexis Tsipras promised to restore wages and pensions, invest in upgrading public healthcare and education, reducing taxation, protecting the public nature of water, ports and beaches among others.
According to the ‘’SYRIZA’’ leader the coalition government parties “never negotiated [with the troika], they only conspired with them to remain in power” and argued that “the bailout government humiliated Greece in Europe”.
The opposition leader remarked that the European elections on Sunday “are the referendum for the bailout that never happened” and that “it will be as historic as the one from 40 years ago that expelled the palace and kings from the country”.
AlexisTsipras also accused the government of scaremongering and adopting a far-right discourse to appeal to Golden Dawn voters, while making references to the Baltakos scandal. The ‘’SYRIZA’’ leader noted that » fascists are the long arm f the system, that is why they flock, converse and meet in secret at the Maximou Hall with Mr. Samaras’ system”.
Latest opinion polls put leftist party ‘’SYRIZA’’ ahead of conservative ‘’ND’’ party
New opinion polls on voting intentions for European Parliament elections show leftist opposition ‘’SYRIZA’’ ahead of ‘’New Democracy’’ by 2.5-3.2 percent.
A Public Issue survey for ‘’Efimerida ton Syntakton’’ newspaper put the leftists SYRIZA on 30 % against 27.5 % for the conservatives ‘’ND’’.
The center-left ‘’Olive Tree’’ alliance (Elia) came in third on 8.5 %, followed by the neofascist ‘’Golden Dawn’’ on 8 %. The Communist Party ‘’KKE’’ and centrist newcomers ‘’To Potami’’ (The River) were both on 6.5 %. The right-wing, anti-bailout ‘’Independent Greeks’’ party was on 3 % and ‘’Democratic Left’’ (DIMAR) on 2.5 %.
Meanwhile, a Metron Analysis poll for Antenna TV also put ‘’SYRIZA’’ in leading position with 24.2 % and ND second on 21 %. The poll showed ‘’To Potami’’ on 6.8 %, Golden Dawn on 6.7 %, Elia on 6.5 % and KKE on 3.2 %. The ‘’Independent Greeks’’ following on 2.8 % and ‘Democratic Left’’ on 2 %.
European Parliament elections are held on Sunday MAY 25th, on the same day as the second round of the country’s municipal and regional vote.
Alexis Tsipras ‘’SYRIZA’’ sets sights on victory of 4-6 % points
‘’SYRIZA’’ leader Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday gave the clearest indication yet regarding what kind of result in Sunday’s MAY 25th European Parliament vote would, in his view, give the opposition party the impetus to call for snap elections.
In an interview with Skai TV, Tsipras said that if ‘’SYRIZA’’ voters less support than ‘’New Democracy’’, it would be a “clear defeat” but that a victory for the leftists over the conservatives by 4 to 6 % points would trigger “further political developments.”
Before this the opposition leader had not put a figure on what margin of victory his party is aiming for.
‘’SYRIZA’’ MP Dimitris Papadimoulis suggested last week that if ‘’SYRIZA’’ receives a higher percentage than ‘’New Democracy’’ and its coalition partner »PASOK/ ELIA» combined, this would give the leftists a legitimate right to call for early elections.
Exclusive Interview: Meet Alexis Tsipras, the Most Dangerous Man in Europe By Lynn Stuart Parramore
Oligarchs are watching the rise of Greece’s opposition Syriza party leader with alarm. But he may be the best, brightest hope for the people.
Greece has become the hellish microcosm of Europe’s failed austerity policies. Politicans bargain with unscrupulous financiers as formerly middle-class people sort through garbage for food and shiver beside smoke-belching wood fires. Burdened by widespread corruption, sky-high unemployment, and plans to pay off the banks at any cost to the people, the country is headed to the breaking point.
The New Democracy party, currently in power, is struggling for dominance over left-wing Syriza, led by Alexis Tsipras, a bold young politician who many believe is Greece’s brightest hope. His revolutionary idea? Economic policies linked to the needs of ordinary people. For those who benefit from the current disaster, this makes him a very dangerous man.
Recently, Tsipras visited the U.S. on a campaign to counter his opponents’ image of him as a wild-eyed radical and to share his vision of a more equitable, human-centered economy. I caught up with Tsipras during his trip, and far from his opponents’ portrait, I found him a pragmatic, thoughtful leader well-versed in economics and eager to discuss the details of a transformation that will benefit not only Greece, but the rest of us, too. The following interview was conducted via email following our meeting.
Lynn Parramore: You have been called the most dangerous man in Europe. Who is afraid of you and why?
Alexis Tsipras: It is quite evident that those who fear us try their hardest to portray us as dangerous. The parasitic, unproductive, corrupt oligarchy has every right to fear us. This is so because a Syriza government will spell the end of their merriment. It will end the subterfuge and their sinful excuses. People of good faith outside of Greece must take note that, hiding behind the façade of the fiscal derailment, which this oligarchy has caused, its representatives in government chose to tie Greece up to a series of severe austerity packages. Under the guise of «fiscal consolidation,» they legislated the permanent unaccountability of big business interests and have erected a legalistic protective shield around Greece’s oligarchs.
Tragically, this template of Austerity-via-Memoranda has been used throughout the European periphery. The result is that if Greece steers a different course, this European austerity «paradigm» will collapse, in domino-like fashion, overturning the neoliberal project throughout Europe. This is the reason which we are feared not only by the Greek oligarchy, and our domestic Merkelites, but by all Merkelites around Europe, Mrs. Merkel included. Especially now that Germany is entering its pre-election period.
LP: On your trip to the U.S., what has been the most common misconception about the situation in Greece?
Alexis Tsipras: We discovered a deep gap in the understanding of Syriza’s position regarding Greece’s and Europe’s escape from the current crisis. The Orwellian propaganda machinery set up by our domestic oligarchs has successfully demonized Syriza and projected into the United States the view of themselves as paragons of common sense and of us as the purveyors of disaster. Our task, during our visit in the United States, was to make clear that our position regarding the appropriateness of an immediate renegotiation of the terms of Greece’s loan agreement, and a cessation of the accompanying Memorandum’s austerity-driven policies, together with a multi-dimensional and activist foreign policy toward promoting Greece’s national interest, does not constitute any threat to the United States or any attempt to destabilize the region’s geopolitics.
On the contrary, our policies are complementary to international initiatives, including those of the Obama administration in the context of a broader, global macroeconomic stabilization. But moving in the direction of such a common goal requires an urgent, universal and permanent management of Europe’s debt crisis. In this vein, we have proposed a European Debt Conference, reflecting the historical precedent of the 1953 conference that led to the write-down of Germany’s debts. I am convinced that these views are increasingly well received internationally.
LP: What do you and your party, Syriza, want for Greece? How does this differ from the New Democracy party’s vision?
Alexis Tsipras: The conservative New Democracy party that now leads the government spent two years criticizing Greece’s loan agreement and the austerity policies that came with it. But then, it made a spectacular U-turn. The purpose of the U-turn was twofold: On the one hand, to enter government; at first without elections, by entering into a coalition government with the socialists that had been running the austerity agenda – and later, after an election in which it scored the worst percentage of the vote in its history, to lead a similar coalition.
The purpose of this New Democracy-led government, beyond restoring its politicians to power, was to function as a breaker against which popular discontent would crash, thus preventing, or postponing, the formation of a Syriza government. Very quickly, its work was done, and now, it is beyond its use-by date. Today, this government is implementing the worst, most disastrous policies that our country has seen in peacetime.
For our part, we are opposed to everlasting austerity as means for fiscal rebalancing on both pragmatic and ideological grounds. We consider democracy to be of inaliable political and cultural value. And for this reason we refuse to place it on the markets’ Procrustean bed. The subjugation of democratic process to the markets was the reason we have the crisis today and the cause of its perpetual reproduction. Based on such commonsense approaches to reality, and with no need for complex econometric models, we predicted from the outset, well before the IMF admitted to its predictive failures, that austerity-based policies would backfire and would fail by their own criteria and targets, let alone in terms of the interests of the vast majority of the Greek people.
For us, economic policy ought to be inextricably linked to social policy with a view to look after the social needs of people, of social justice, of intergenerational solidarity and of environmental balance.
Our first aim is to stop in its tracks the current policies that generate poverty, unemployment and insecurity. Our political plan is to effect alternative policies that will efficiently address the crisis and kickstart the economy by supporting the weak, creating new employment and supporting basic incomes. Greece’s reconstruction will come from a fresh developmental plan, one that is aimed at income redistribution, decent jobs and the enhancement of public goods.
LP: Why has austerity been so destructive, and what is the alternative?
Alexis Tsipras: It is impossible to resolve a crisis by removing liquidity from a receding economy. On the contrary, contractionary policies worsen the crisis, and this has been proved beyond reasonable doubt in the case of Greece. Unemployment becomes self-reinforcing, small firms close down, the economy dies out. At the same time, the steady deterioration becomes a pretext for further cuts in pay and salaries, for the removal of workers’ rights and other social safety nets, and for the transfer of public assets to private hands. The remedy thus turns out to be far worse than the disease.
The crisis will be resolved only if there is a plan for reconstructing the economy’s productive engine from below. From the labor market and the welfare state, where wages and pensions must be supported, to small businesses that demand credit lines and access to investment funding. Instead of imposing increasing tax rates on the poor and those who simply can no longer pay, what we need is an increase in public investment. Instead of tax relief for the rich, we need a just tax system. Instead of pressing the economy in the service of bankers, we need a banking system that serves society at large, that supports development. Only in this way can the vicious cycle of austerity and recession be broken, so that the social economy begins functioning again.
LP: You’ve suggested that debt repayment must be tied to economic growth. Why is this important?
Alexis Tsipras: There is nothing more self-evident than this. Look at the experience of Central and Latin America. A massive debt overhang is bound to choke growth prospects when the first priority is to repay an unsustainable debt by means of increasing (growth-destroying) austerity. As debt-induced austerity gets deeper and more vicious, the recession deepens and the debt rises in real terms. Default becomes certain and, while it is postponed through new loans and new debt, no one invests in the country, therefore reinforcing this vicious cycle.
If our creditors want their money back, they have to give us a chance to reverse our recession and to return to the levels of growth that are necessary to avoid a hard default. The United States thought that this was sine qua non in 1953 regarding Germany’s efforts to begin reconstructing its economy. The United States, for this reason, leaned heavily on its European allies to agree to a massive haircut of Germany’s debts. The conference that agreed to that haircut was the springboard that allowed Germany to bounce back and to become a dominant economy. We mention this because it is the only solution to the problem of debt which does not spell a wholesale social disaster.
LP: Should Greece stay in the Eurozone?
Alexis Tsipras: Yes, because an exit from the Eurozone will not benefit Greece. Moreover, a Greek exit will be disastrous for the Eurozone itself, something that everyone knows deep down. It is not our intention to enter into a competitive devaluation contest with other European nations. It makes sense to change Europe’s institutions, to steer them away from their neoliberal agenda, from their fixations and the «logic» which brought the crisis about in the first place, and which now are perpetuating it.
Today we Europeans have a greater need than ever for a new narrative about Europe. We desperately need a new European vision that inspires and energizes. We want to rediscover the origins of the Enlightenment and of political democracy. We need to create — and this is Syriza’s project — an alternative, realistic political agenda for tomorrow’s democratic, social, environmentally sensible Europe. We know that such an agenda will bring us into conflict with powerful vested interests that will reliably spill over into the realm of political conflict and social struggles. Nevertheless, at a time when Europe is sinking into the crisis’ mire, this is the only escape route available to its peoples.
LP: What lessons should Americans take from the Greek crisis?
Alexis Tsipras: The European Union is utilizing the crisis in order to rewrite the political history of Europe. The post-war design of Europe’s economies is under revision. The celebrated «European social model» which, until recently supposedly differentiated Europe from the United States, is unravelling. At the same time, Europe is not moving in the direction of America; it is, rather, moving in the wrong direction altogether. The United States, with its federal unemployment benefit system, its Medicaid and Medicare provisions, possesses checks and balances that the Eurozone does not have. And as the nation-states of Europe are being hollowed out by austerity-driven policies, while European institutions are not stepping in to make up for the lost social, welfare and rebalancing services, today’s United States is closer to the famed European social model than Europe is!
So, the most important lesson for the United States from the Greek crisis is that it is suicidal to try to deal with the federal debt by means of an austerity which attacks federal programs, such as Social Security, whose purpose is to shield America’s social economy from both recession and internal imbalances. Basic incomes, public health provisions, public education, social cohesion, environmental protection – these are the public goods that, if depleted in the context of fiscal consolidation, will bite your people back, and in the end, jeopardize not only America’s shared prosperity but also its capacity to repay its debts. It is for this utterly pragmatic reason that we must defend our public goods, both in Europe and in America.
Americans do not have the luxury of thinking: “These things are happening in Greece. Why should we care?” If we do not emancipate our societies on both sides of the Atlantic from speculative finance and from the notion that the crisis must be paid by the weaker members of our society, America and Europe alike will continue to live under the crisis’ cloud. But if we recognize the regenerative power of democracy, of politics, of our peoples, we will be in a position to change the world for the better.
LP: What fundamental shift in thinking do you believe is necessary to create a more prosperous future for Greece and the entire global economy?
Alexis Tsipras: We must defeat the dominant paradigm according to which development comes when wages fall, when labor becomes as elastic as rubber, when profits are left untaxed. We must also defeat, once and for all, the myth of the trickle-down effect. The evidence is irrefutable: the trickle-down idea was at best an illusion and at worst a fraud. We must rethink development from the perspective of real social needs. Development must be reacquainted with the notion of a life lived in dignity, with respect for the environment, with social protection for the weak. If 100 powerful conglomerates disagree, it is their right to do so. But it is not their right to impose their opinion on the rest of humanity.
Lynn Parramore is an AlterNet senior editor. She is cofounder of Recessionwire, founding editor of New Deal 2.0, and author of ‘Reading the Sphinx: Ancient Egypt in Nineteenth-Century Literary Culture.’ She received her Ph.d in English and Cultural Theory from NYU, where she has taught essay writing and semiotics. She is the Director of AlterNet’s New Economic Dialogue Project. Follow her on Twitter @LynnParramore.
Organising to survive in Greece February 16, 2013
The first problem is that in Greece now we have 25 per cent unemployment, with youth unemployment reaching 58 per cent and unemployment in areas that used to be highly industrialised sometimes reaching 70-80 per cent. Many industries either close because we have very low consumption or, as in the case of the big multinationals like Coca-Cola, they are leaving.
Around 170,000 small companies have closed in the past three years. It is almost impossible to set up a new company today in Greece because you can’t get the finance. The banks are taking 80 per cent of the money that Greece is getting from the EU and IMF. But they are not lending a euro to the people.
Unemployment benefit only lasts for one year, and then you get nothing to survive on – only help from friends and family, from social networks and working for very little in the black economy. The problem up to now hasn’t been as severe as it could have been because of very strong family and friendship networks – if someone had difficulty in paying bills, for example, others would support them. But it isn’t possible to sustain this kind of support indefinitely.
A related problem is homelessness. In the past, homeless people were mainly those who had problems with drug use or illness. Now many are homeless because they lost their jobs. There are least 20,000 homeless in Greece now – some estimates are much higher. And state-provided shelter only covers around 250 people.
At the same time, there are 300,000 houses for sale in Athens because people need the money to live on. About 40 per cent of mortgages are in arrears. There are few repossessions at the moment because the mortgage companies would not know what to do with the houses. But they are talking about it.
Salaries have fallen substantially – by up to 70 per cent in some cases. When the state cannot pay its debt, it reduces public sector salaries, as well as pensions. My sister has been working in education for 25 years. Her monthly salary has dropped from €1,400 to €1,000 (£800). People with bigger salaries have seen an even bigger drop. So talented people, especially the young, are going abroad to find better paid work.
At the same time, contrary to the normal assumptions about prices falling during a recession, they are actually going up. The reason is that many products are imported and with trade in the hands of big companies, these companies can keep prices high. This is why, with Solidarity for All, we’re trying to create a network to provide food direct from producers without using the normal market. In this way we have been able to lower prices by up to 50 per cent compared to what they are in the supermarket. This is a big movement in Greece now. We have not managed yet to organise for all products, but there are now networks for the direct exchange of some vegetables, potatoes, oil, flour and lemons, for example.
There are many families who are undernourished. Children are fainting in schools because they haven’t eaten anything for a day or two. We have therefore tried to push the government to provide some food in schools – something that hasn’t happened since the 1950s.
There is a big problem with the health system. Most people have to pay health insurance. But they have not been able to keep up payments, so they can’t go to the hospital, to a doctor, or buy medicine. Insurance is very expensive, €350 per month – so it is very difficult to afford when salaries have been cut from, say, €2,000 to €1,000. More than one third of the population can’t use health services because of this. So we have tried to set up small health centres with volunteer doctors, and gather from pharmacies some medicine for people who have no insurance. We’ve also tried to collaborate with some hospitals where there are sympathetic managers and send them the more serious cases.
There is a particular problem with the most expensive medicines, such as those for cancer. Even the hospitals don’t have these medicines because of lack of funds, so the patient ends up just being given cortisone. Every day in our network we try to inform people who have these diseases where they can find the right medicine – one day it’s this hospital, three days later another one.
Another problem is the taxes. The government has reformed the tax system but it has benefited the rich. Before the change those with up to €10,000 income wouldn’t pay taxes. And beyond €10,000 the taxes were between 10 per cent and 40 per cent (and for companies from 25 per cent to 40 per cent). Now individuals have to start to pay taxes from the first euro, with tax rates for individuals between 20 and 35 per cent, while corporate taxes are now 25 per cent maximum. The idea is that this gives the companies an incentive to invest. But at the moment most companies show no intention to do so.
There has been a big increase in suicides. Before the crisis, the suicide level was very low but in the past year suicide ranked equal first with car accidents as a cause of death. This particularly affects middle class men who have lost everything. One newspaper reported that every day we have 500 attempted suicides, around 50 of which are successful.
The solidarity networks are working in six spheres: food supply and health services (see posters, right), education, cultural activity, legal advice and social economy.
We are people of the left and radical left, and connected with Syriza – though it’s not only people from Syriza who are involved. Syriza also decided that 20 per cent of its MPs’ salaries would be given to solidarity actions. We have decided that this will be used to help people to start small collective businesses, or to buy essentials for social kitchens, but we don’t use it for direct payments to people or for paying rent.
Solidarity for All is a growing movement – last year there were maybe only 100 initiatives and now it has grown to 2,000. There is a lot of activity, spreading fast. So far it has been people taking action by themselves but we are trying to coordinate it. We are trying to make a database of all the small groups doing solidarity actions so they can meet each other and exchange experiences. The aim is to make a movement out of this, and try to find solutions to the problems encountered by solidarity networks.
Many of these problems arise from state intervention. For example, there is a very important solidarity centre in the town of Volos in Thessalia, in the middle of Greece, where products and services are exchanged without money. They have a social currency called a ‘tem’. They have created an exchange system, so that, for example, one kilo of potatoes is one tem and one hour of babysitting is one tem. So if you want someone to babysit you could give them a kilo of potatoes in exchange. As this grew, the state asked them to pay taxes on the services and products they were exchanging. Up to now the state has not succeeded in enforcing this but we don’t know what will happen in the future.
Another example of state hostility is towards the social kitchens. The state told us we didn’t have the necessary sanitary conditions or permission to run these kitchens. In response, all social kitchens got together and answered with a huge communal meal where many people cooked all together and challenged them to arrest us all!
Our work on education is important because in Greece you have to pay for subjects such as languages, music and so on. People increasingly can’t afford this, so we have volunteer teams giving lessons in foreign languages and music in many neighbourhoods in Athens and other cities.
Then there are teams of people who provide legal information when people have problems with the banks and so on. Also we have groups who put on music or theatrical performances, where people can watch by donating food, which then goes to feed others in need of it. And finally we have networks working on different aspects of the social economy – for example to support people taking land that is not being used and cultivating it, or people occupying a free space and running a social marketplace in it, with very low prices.
People are expecting an even bigger crisis and we have to be prepared. The most important thing is to provide medicine and food. Greece is very competent in agriculture, so we could easily become self sufficient in food.
It is also important to ensure people aren’t isolated and fearful. The only weapon of the government is fear. My mother is an old woman and is afraid of losing her pension. She knows that the money Greece receives from the EU is not, as the media pretend, for salaries and pensions but is for supporting the banks. No one really believes the government’s policies are right, but many people are afraid to protest.
We are trying to reduce people’s fear, so that they can exert their right to protest. But our aim is also to counteract the increasing support for the Nazi Golden Dawn party in Greece, which is now approaching 12 per cent support in the polls. These people offer their own kind of ‘social solidarity’, but only for white, Greek Orthodox people and mainly as a media trick. They go to a square, call the media and distribute food, and if, for example, a woman who is not originally Greek tries to take some food they chase her away in front of the media. They campaign for nursery schools to give priority to ‘Greek’ children and not to take the children even of legal migrants. And the most severe problem is that they attack migrants every day without any punishment from the state. Worryingly, they are starting to have an influence in high schools, where they have formed gangs.
Their vote comes largely from the middle class or poorer – though not the poorest – people, including many from rural areas. Their voters believe that Golden Dawn is an anti-system party because its MPs vote against the austerity measures in parliament. We are trying to inform people that in fact they are the violent hand of the system.
More positively, Syriza is coming first in many polls now, with about 32–33 per cent support, with the governing New Democracy party on 27–28 per cent and the old social democratic party PASOK collapsing. In a recent poll asking ‘Who do you think will form the next government in Greece?’, 58 per cent answered Syriza and only 28 per cent New Democracy.
We have received support from the left all over Europe, but it’s not yet organised in an effective way. The strikes across the EU on 14 November gave strength to people in Greece. But we also need to create a network of help and solidarity. Maybe people could come and volunteer in Greece – doctors, for instance, or a solidarity brigade that could come and work on the land. Or maybe organisations could donate food and medicine. The solidarity brigades could be organised in an open and symbolic way, so that the solidarity with Greece is very visible.
People willing to offer solidarity should contact +30 210 380 1291 or email email@example.com
Tonia Katerini was talking to Red Pepper at Firenze 10+10, a convergence of networks and campaigns working against austerity and debt, for natural and social commons, for social and labour rights, for democracy, global justice and peace, for gender liberation and for migrant rights. Meeting in Florence exactly ten years after the first European Social Forum met there, it agreed a common day of action around the EU spring summit on 23 March 2013, with a combination of Brussels-based and decentralised actions.
Greece’s Rotten Oligarchy
By KOSTAS VAXEVANIS
published at NEW YORK TIMES , January 6th, 2013
DEMOCRACY is like a bicycle: if you don’t keep pedaling, you fall. Unfortunately, the bicycle of Greek democracy has long been broken. After the military junta collapsed in 1974, Greece created only a hybrid, diluted form of democracy. You can vote, belong to a party and protest. In essence, however, a small clique exercises all meaningful political power.
For all that has been said about the Greek crisis, much has been left unsaid. The crisis has become a battleground of interests and ideologies. At stake is the role of the public sector and the welfare state. Yes, in Greece we have a dysfunctional public sector; for the past 40 years the ruling parties handed out government jobs to their supporters, regardless of their qualifications.
But the real problem with the public sector is the tiny elite of business people who live off the Greek state while passing themselves off as “entrepreneurs.” They bribe politicians to get fat government contracts, usually at inflated prices. They also own many of the country’s media outlets, and thus manage to ensure that their actions are clothed in silence. Sometimes they’ll even buy a soccer team in order to drum up popular support and shield their crimes behind popular protection, as the drug lord Pablo Escobar did in Colombia, and as the paramilitary leader Arkan did in Serbia.
In 2011, Evangelos Venizelos, who was then the finance minister and is now the leader of the socialist party, Pasok, instituted a new property-tax law. But for properties larger than 2,000 square meters — about 21,000 square feet — the tax was reduced by 60 percent. Mr. Venizelos thus carved out a big exemption for the only people who could afford to pay the tax: the rich. (Mr. Venizelos is also the man responsible for a law granting broad immunity to government ministers.)
Such shenanigans have gone on for decades. The public is deprived of real information, as television stations, newspapers and online news sites are controlled by the economic and political elite.
Another scandal involves the so-called Lagarde List. In 2010, Christine Lagarde, then the French finance minister (and now the head of the International Monetary Fund), gave the Greek government a list of roughly 2,000 Greek citizens with Swiss bank accounts, to help uncover tax fraud. Greek officials did virtually nothing with the list; two former finance ministers, George Papaconstantinou and his successor, Mr. Venizelos, reportedly even told Parliament they did not know where it was. Meanwhile, several media outlets falsely accused some politicians and business figures of being on the list in order to conceal the ugly reality: rich people were evading taxes while their desperate fellow citizens were searching the trash for food.
When Hot Doc, the monthly magazine I edit and publish, made the list public in October, I was arrested and charged with violating personal privacy, but was acquitted. The result didn’t please those in power. So I am being brought back for a second trial (a date has yet to be set) on similarly vague allegations. Throughout the entire process — the publication of the list, my arrest, my acquittal — the Greek media were absent. The case was a top story in the international press, but not in the country where it took place.
The reason is simple. The Lagarde list implicates a corrupt group that answers to the name of democracy even as it casually nullifies it: officials with offshore companies, friends and relatives of government ministers, bankers, publishers and those involved in the black market.
After my magazine released the list, the Greek government made not a single statement about the case.
When Mr. Venizelos left the Finance Ministry last March, he failed to turn the CD with the list over to his successor. He took it with him. Only when his successor, Yannis Stournaras, told The Financial Times in October that he had never received the list did Mr. Venizelos turn it over to the prime minister’s office. He was never asked about the delay, and leaders of the three parties in the coalition government have not referred his conduct to Parliament’s investigatory committee.
Meanwhile, a newly released version of the list made clear that someone had removed the names of three relatives of Mr. Papaconstantinou, who was the finance minister from 2009 to 2011, before Mr. Venizelos. Last month, Mr. Papaconstantinou was expelled from Pasok. He now faces a Parliamentary investigation, the potential lifting of his immunity from prosecution as a former minister, and charges of tampering with the data. It appears that he may become a new Iphigenia, a scapegoat sacrificed so that the corrupt political system can survive.
This is all unfolding at a time when Greece is walking a tightrope above the abyss of bankruptcy, while the coalition government is instituting new taxes on the lower classes. Half of young Greeks are unemployed. The economy is shrinking at an annual rate of 6.9 percent. People are scrounging for food. And a neo-Nazi party, Golden Dawn, is on the rise, exploiting the resentment and rage toward the ruling class.
The Greek people must remount their bicycle of democracy by demanding an end to deception and corruption. Journalists need to resist manipulation and rediscover their journalistic duties. And the government should revive Greece’s ancient democratic heritage — instead of killing the messenger.
Kostas Vaxevanis is a magazine publisher and television journalist. This essay was translated by Karen Emmerich from the Greek
Euros discarded as impoverished Greeks resort to bartering
Communities set up local currencies and exchange networks in attempt to beat the economic crisis
Stall-holders at a bartering market in the central Greek city of Volos, where shoppers use Tem coupons to exchange services or products. Photograph: Despoina Vafeidou /AFP/Getty Images
It’s been a busy day at the market in downtown Volos. Angeliki Ioanitou has sold a decent quantity of olive oil and soap, while her friend Maria has done good business with her fresh pies.
But not a single euro has changed hands – none of the customers on this drizzly Saturday morning has bothered carrying money at all. For many, browsing through the racks of second-hand clothes, electrical appliances and homemade jams, the need to survive means money has been usurped.
«It’s all about exchange and solidarity, helping one another out in these very hard times,» enthused Ioanitou, her hair tucked under a floppy felt cap. «You could say a lot of us have dreams of a utopia without the euro.»
In this bustling port city at the foot of Mount Pelion, in the heart of Greece‘s most fertile plain, locals have come up with a novel way of dealing with austerity – adopting their own alternative currency, known as the Tem. As the country struggles with its worst crisis in modern times, with Greeks losing up to 40% of their disposable income as a result of policies imposed in exchange for international aid, the system has been a huge success. Organisers say some 1,300 people have signed up to the informal bartering network.
For users such as Ioanitou, the currency – a form of community banking monitored exclusively online – is not only an effective antidote to wage cuts and soaring taxes but the «best kind of shopping therapy». «One Tem is the equivalent of one euro. My oil and soap came to 70 Tem and with that I bought oranges, pies, napkins, cleaning products and Christmas decorations,» said the mother-of-five. «I’ve got 30 Tem left over. For women, who are worst affected by unemployment, and don’t have kafeneia [coffeehouses] to go to like men, it’s like belonging to a hugely supportive association.»
Greece’s deepening economic crisis has brought new users. With ever more families plunging into poverty and despair, shops, cafes, factories and businesses have also resorted to the system under which goods and services – everything from yoga sessions to healthcare, babysitting to computer support – are traded in lieu of credits.
«For many it plays a double role of supplementing lost income and creating a protective web at this particularly difficult moment in their lives,» says Yiannis Grigoriou, a UK-educated sociologist among the network’s founders. «The older generation in this country can still remember when bartering was commonplace. In villages you’d exchange milk and goat’s cheese for meat and flour.»
Other grassroots initiatives have appeared across Greece. Increasingly bereft of social support, or a welfare state able to meet the needs of a growing number of destitute and hungry, locals have set up similar trading networks in the suburbs of Athens, the island of Corfu, the town of Patras and northern Katerini.
But Volos, the first to be established, is by far the biggest. Until recently the city, 200 miles north of Athens, was a thriving industrial hub with a port whose ferries not only connected the mainland to nearby islands but before Syria’s descent into civil war was a trading route between Greece and the Middle East. Once famous for its tobacco, Volos was home to flour mills and cement factories, steel and metal works.
But, today, it is joblessness that it has come to be known for in a country whose unemployment rate recently hit a European record of 26%, surpassing even that of Spain.
«Frankly the Tem has been a life-saver,» said Christina Koutsieri, clutching DVDs and a bag of food as she emerged from the marketplace. «In March I had to close the grocery store I had kept going for 27 years because I just couldn’t afford all the new taxes and bills. Everyone I know has lost their jobs. It’s tragic.»
Last year, the Greek government stepped in with a law that supported finding creative ways to cope with the crisis. For the first time, alternative forms of entrepreneurship and local development were actively encouraged.
Although locals insist the Tem, which is also available in voucher form, will never replace banknotes – and has not been dreamed up to dodge taxes – they say it is a viable alternative.
For local officials such as Panos Skotiniotis, the mayor of Volos, the alternative currency has proved to be an excellent way of supplementing the euro. «We are all for supporting alternatives that help alleviate the crisis’s economic and social consequences,» he said. «It won’t ever replace the euro but it is really helping weaker members of our society. In all the social and cultural activities of the municipality, we are encouraging the Tem to be used.»
source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/ Helena Smith in Volos Wednesday 2 January 2013 14.43 GMT
Greek opposition leader calls for European debt conference
Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras says only viable solution to debt crisis is ‘a haircut for Greece and entire southern periphery’
Sarah Luzia Hassel-Reusing Th……… Str. 7,
42283 Wuppertal (Germany)
Only weeks after the EU and IMF announced a third plan in as many years to rescue Greece from insolvency, the country’s most popular party – its radical left opposition – has called for a European debt conference to «finally» settle a crisis it claims is no nearer to being solved.
In an exclusive interview, Alexis Tsipras, who heads the stridently anti-austerity Syriza, insisted that with the debt drama spreading it was vital that foreign lenders take a leaf out of the history books by dealing with the eurozone’s crisis-hit southern periphery in much the same way that Germany had been treated after the second world war.
«It is quite clear that the latest agreement was a compromise that will only perpetuate the uncertainty … Merkel has to say to her people before [the 2013 German] elections that the programme is not working,» he told the Guardian.
«The only viable solution is a haircut not only for Greece but the entire southern periphery,» said the leader, emphasising that the longer creditors postponed writing off a significant portion of Athens’ staggering debt the greater the cost both socially and economically.
«That is why we are proposing a conference along the lines of the one that took place in London in 1953, which relieved Germany of around 60% of its debt. We want to agree with our lenders on a credible solution. It doesn’t matter where it takes place but it should happen as soon as possible.»
As an allied power, Greece, ironically, had been present at the conference whose debt agreement would go on to lay the foundations for Germany’s post-war economic miracle. The pact had allowed Hitler’s destroyed country to not only repay its debt over a 30-year period but had also stipulated that its financial obligations would also be dependent on Germany’s economic performance.
If Greece’s shattered economy was ever to recover, Tsipras said it was crucial that it, too, was also given «a growth clause» that would likewise tie the repayment of Athens’ debt load to its ability to pay. «We are also asking for time, a moratorium, of servicing the debt so that we can redirect that money to growth,» he said, adding that the suspended interest payments, projected to amount to about €13 every year, would be used to kick-start the moribund Greek economy. «It would be a win-win solution.»
The charismatic politician, catapulted into the spotlight when his party received a fivefold rise in support in elections in June, insisted that the piecemeal approach of international creditors to resolving the crisis would not only destroy Greece but the entire continent.
«There are two pillars to Europe’s economic problem, the first being the debt which has to be made viable and the second being austerity which has to finish. If we continue with such measures it is like putting oil on the fire,» he said.
Tsipras’s economic policies have often been ridiculed by the prime minister, Antonis Samaras, as «dangerous and half-baked». But the 38-year-old left-winger has also been vindicated. Greece’s pursuit of austerity in the name of brutal fiscal adjustment has created record levels of poverty and unemployment, trapped it in recession and repeatedly resulted in missed budget targets that have plunged the country into an ever-deeper death spiral. It had opened up bottomless pits in Europe’s south that taxpayers in the north were then called to fund.
Although the latest rescue includes a complex bond buyback scheme, which will shave about €30bn from the country’s €340.6bn debt pile, it was, he argued, still a case of creditors «buying time» and, as such, was far from adequate.
«When the crisis began in 2009 our debt stood at 120% of our GDP. This year it is projected officially to be 175.6 %. And now they [EU-IMF] say that to make the debt viable we must hit 124% of GDP by 2020,» he said, shaking his head in disbelief.
«Let’s suppose they are right – but how do they want to get there? After 12 years of catastrophic austerity and measures totalling €19bn Greece will have become a no-man’s land.»
source: The guardian an article by Helena Smith
human rights acitivist
to the International Crime Court
to be delivered to the Chief Prosecutor Mrs. Fatou Bensouda
2516 AB, The Hague (Netherlands)
subject: -Greek charge regarding art. 7 Roman Statute
reference: -further crucial evidence especially regarding the objective part
Dear Madam, Mrs. Chief Prosecutor,
I address myself as a German citizen to you in the awareness, that the German people confesses itself to inalienable und invulnerable (universal) human rights as the basis of every human community, of peace, and of justice in the world (according to art. 1 par. 2 Basic Law, which is protected by the eternity guarantee of art. 79 par. 3 Basic Law). In his famous speech at the 06.09.1946 the then US foreign minister Mr. Byrnes has demanded, that Germany had to bind itself to human rights and to peace as a precondition, which would allow the USA, to accept that Germany might get to wealth again. In the Parlamentarian Council, the body, which has worked out and concluded the German Basic Law, Dr. Seebohm (German Party) demanded in his plenary speech at the 08.05.1949 a legally binding obligation of Germany to human rights and to peace, in order to enable other states to trust Germany again („Der Parlamentarische Rat“, Band 9, Harald-Boldt publishing house, p.562). This means the legal obligation to the universal human rights, for the wording of art. 1 par. 2 Basic Law has been developed starting from a draft of the first paragraph of the preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Right (UDHR), and the other international human rights systems, which are valid today in Germany, have been come into existence after the the Basic Law (1949) (European Human Rights Convention of the Council of Europe concluded in 1950, and the EU Basic Rights Charter concluded in 2000 and made legally binding in 2009).
Dr. Süsterhenn (Christian-Democratical Union) demanded in his plenary speech in the Parlamentarian Council at the 08.09.1948 („Der Parlamentarische Rat“, Band 9, Harald-Boldt publishing house, p.56), that the universal human rights, if they are valid for UN trustee areas, then even more must be valid for the occupied Germany. Also the German Constitutional Court has confirmed art. 1 par. 2 Basic Law as a connection to the universal human rights (no. 96 of the Bodenreform III judgement, BVerfGE 112,1). In addition to that, the Constitutional Court has in no. 225 of the Lisbon judgement at the 30.06.2009 recognized the peace principle (obligation to peace by art. 1 par. 2 Basic Law, not to be misunderchanged with the prohibition of aggressive war by art. 26 Basic Law).
This means for me as a German citizen (official confirmation, that I am a German citizen, is attached), as a part of the sovereign (the people), to stand protecting the universal human rights.
The Greek journalists Georgios Tragkas, Panagiotis Tzenos, and Antonios Prekas, and the Greek politician Dimitrios Konstantaras (Nea Democratica), have filed a charge regarding the suspicion of crimes against humanity (art. 7 Roman Statute). The charge regarding art. 7 Roman Statute is directed against Christine Lagarde (CEO of the IMF), Herman van Rompuy (President of the European Council), Jose Manuel Barroso (President of the EU Commission), the German Federal Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel, and the German Federal Minister of Finance, Dr. Wolfgang Schäuble.
You find the English text of the charge at the following link:
According to art. 15 par. 1 Roman Statute, the Chief Prosecutor can, propriu motu, initiate investigations on the basis of information, which is filed at the International Crime Court for the prosecution of crimes, which are within the jurisdiction of the court.
This letter supports the above-mentioned Greek charge with crucial pieces of information regarding the objective part, especially regarding the systematic attack and the large scope according to art. 7 par. 1 Roman Statute. For this purpose, I especially look at those actions, which lead to severe damages at health (according to art. 7 par. 1 lit. k Roman Statute).
In addition to that, part IV.1 of this letter shows the real suspected motive, namely to give more for the stability of the financial sector (especially of big banks according to the „too big to fail“ – hypothesis), than this is allowed with respect to the financial means, which must remain to fulfill those obligations, which are secured by human rights, and than the peoples themselves, if they were orderly informed and asked, would ever allow.
The investigation at the ICC of the systematical accepting of the humanitarian catastrophe at Greece is, at the same time, necessary, in order to prevent its systematical spread onto all states of the eurozone, and to prevent the pushing back of the universal human rights and the Roman Statute by means of art. 136 par. 3 TFEU.
I request for the start of investigations on Greece, even though the completion of the investigations might take a long time with respect to older already pending proceedings. Because here, the start of investigations can still prevent the, because of art. 136 par. 3 TFEU, threatening creation of cases of art. 7 par. 1 lit. k Roman Statute in all states of the eurozone. What the IMF has done to the health system in countries like Albania, Bangla Desh, Brazil, Ghana, India, Peru, Ruanda, Romania, Somalia, Ukraine, and Vietnam, is threatening to all states of the eurozone because of art. 136 par. 3 TFEU. The Greek people already today is being used as a test case within the eurozone for this. Even if the pain, which the IMF has caused to the peoples outside Europe, has been enabled possibly also because of a neglect of the control of representatives of European states over the IMF, may this not go on account of the peoples of Europe, which have been left systematically in ignorance regarding the IMF for decades. The losses of human lifes in the eurozone to be expected are rather comparable to Ruanda (hundredthousands) than to the recent cases at Nigeria (Boko Haram suspected for over 1.000 deaths) or Guinea (army suspected for over 150 deaths). So I request to at least give the official start of the investigations on Greece the timely priority, which is adequate to systematic attack and to the large scope.
(for numbers on Nigeria and Guinea see taz-article „Spart sich die Welt ihr Weltgericht“ of the 15.11.2012, Link http://www.taz.de/1/archiv/digitaz/artikel/ressort=au&dig=2012%2F11%2F15%2Fa0115&cHash=75451582 500fbd21ed22ec150aac90f7 )
I. the connection between the Roman Statute and the universal human rights
I have, as well as the Greeks, who have filed the charge, the legal point of view, that the Roman Statute is to be interpreted according to the universal human rights. Historically and regarding legal philosophy, the universal human rights are the basis for putting crimes like genocide or crimes against humanity under hard penalties. Among the universal human rights, besides the human dignity (art. 1 UDHR), which is the legal basis of the indivisibility of the universal human rights, the universal human right to health (art. 12 UN Social Pact) is of eminent importance. According to no. 1 general comment no. 14 to the UN Social Pact, the sense of the human right to health is the ability to lead a life in dignity. Also for this reason, the human right to health is the only universal human right, which explicitely garantuees the, for the respective human being, highest attainable standard of health. According to no. 32, the principal prohibition of retrogression (which results from the social progression clause of art. 2 par. 1 UN Social Pact) has the effect regarding the human right to health, that the state has regarding retrogessions at the human right to health, not only the burden of proof, that all available financial means have already been exhausted before, but also the the burden of proof, that these retrogressions are justified with a view to the total of the rights of the Social Pact. This means, if cuts need to be made regarding the realization of the universal social human rights, then these cuts need to be done, relatively less regarding health than regarding any other social human rights.
Also regarding the universal human right to food (art. 11 Social Pact), the central importance of the human dignity (art. 1 UDHR) and of the human right to health (art. 12 Social Pact) is shown. For, according to no. 8 general comment no. 12 to the UN Social Pact, the core of the human right to food includes the availability of food in sufficient amount and quality needed for the nutritional needs of every single human being, which is free of detrimental substances and acceptable in the respective culture; and the access to food should take place sustainably and should not violate the enjoyment of other human rights.
This shows the special importance of the universal human rights to health and to food also for the interpreta- tion of art. 7 par. 1 lit. k Roman Statute.
II. On the definition of a crime against humanity
A crime against humanity (art. 7 Roman Statute) includes attacks, which are large or systematical, and which are done against the civil population with knowledge of the attack. We regard in this case especially as relevant lit. k (encompasses also affectedness of social groups), and lit. h. The largeness and sytematical attack becomes most visible at the example of the Greek health system., and at the example of art. 136 par. 3 TFEU.
It is sufficient, if either the large scope or the systematical attack is there.
III. The systematical attack on the health at Greece
III.1 how the conditions against Greece systematically destroy the Greek health system
The memorandum of understanding of the trroika (EU Commission, International Monetary Fund IMF, and European Central Bank ECB) in the scope of financial support of the EFSF of February 2012 obliged Greece, to direct all revenues of the state onto a blocked account, in order to preeminently pay the external creditors (see German and English translation for the German Bundestag of the memorandum of unterstanding via Greece from February 2012, file number „Drucksache 17/8731“). http://dipbt.bundestag.de/dip21/btd/17/087/1708731.pdf
The blocked account refers, as the Hellas Frappe article „How Venizelos Robbed State Institutions To Complete Bond Swap“ of the 26.03.2012 shows, not only to future revenues, because, at the 09.03.2012 credits of ca. 1.4 billion € of various public institutions, among them universities and hospitals, have been complety taken away without warning from one day to another, and have been transferred to the blocked acocunt at the Bank of Greece, which has had already been implemented according to the memorandum of understanding. Even public hospitals have suddenly been without any credit on their banking account with respective effects on their work. http://hellasfrappe.blogspot.gr/2012/03/how-venizelos-regime-robbed-state.html
In addition to that, the Troika obliges Greece, to reduce the total amount of the employers’ contribution to the social insurance by 5%, alone by cuts in services and moderating fees, and without any compensation through tax-financed subsidies. Moreover, the Troika wants Greece to reach a budget surplus of 4.5 % of the GDP. The Troika wants to reach this surplus, especially by deep structural reforms at the side of the expenditures, among them drastical cuts in the social insurances and closing down parts of the public administration, which are regarded to be not cost-efficient enough. The Troika demands from the social insurance concrete measures for the protection of its central parts (which in most states could mean pension and health insurance) and of the weakest of the Greek society, but the Troika does not demand, that these measures must be sufficient for the preservation of the central parts and for the survival of the poorest groups of the population. The Troika put the main burden of the austerity measures at the social system. Besides that, the Troika also demands austerity measures in the defense area. The permanent marginalization of the social system is so important to the Troika, that for the case of a budgetary relief, it explicitely does not want to allow the relief of the social system, but to enforce a further reduction of the social insurance contributions.
Apart from that, the revenue of the Greek social insurance has also decreased because of the recession, the unemployment (to which the loosening of the protection against wrongful dismissal, which the Troika has had enforced in 2010, has contributed), and because of reductions of the wages.
With the conditions of the Troika, the humanitarian catastrophe, has obviously willingly be risked. The assessment, who has the responsibility for that under penalty law, is the task of the International Criminal Court. I do regard it as possible, that persons outside the political positions have a big part of the responsibility.
III.2 the humanitarian catastrophe in the Greek health system
The money in the Greek public health insurance has become so scarce, that the ambulant patients as well as the patients in hospital have to advance the money for their medicaments.
taz article „keine Heilung auf Rezept“ of the 05.06.2012
taz article „Krise in Griechenland: Rentner stürmen Ministerium“ of the 05.09.2012
Also the article „Greek Pensioners ‘Storm’ Health Ministry“ from September 2012 confirms, that the health insured people have to advance the payment for their medicaments. In addition to that, they even already have to pay in advance for ambulant visits to the doctor, which reminds of the situation at Romania. http://hellasfrappe.blogspot.gr/2012/09/greek-pensioners-storm-health-ministry.html
The article „Minister of Health Puts End to Agony of Cancer Patients Who Could Not Find Medi-cines“ of the 05.06.2012 exposes, why the supply with cancer medicaments at Greece has been relieved in the middle of 2012. It has been not more than a momentary benefit in face of the elections. http://hellasfrappe.blogspot.gr/2012/06/minister-of-health-puts-end-to-agony-of-html
The article „Crisis in Health Care Hurts Access to Vital Medicines“ of June 2012 reports on a press confe- rence of Greek patients’ associations on „the barbarity of the economic crisis and the devaluation of human life“ in view of the effects of the liquidity shortage in the Greek public health insurance. Multiple sklerosis patients need about 1.000,- € for medicine per month; without these medicaments, their disease proceeds. The association of dialysis patients of Northern Greece reports on casualties because fo the lack of dialysis filters, which are are supplied by the pharmacists only after payment. The association of young diabetes patients reported on problems with blood donations because of a lack of medical materials. Cancer patients, whose medicaments cost between 200,- € and 4.000,- € per patient and month, often remain medically unsupplied because of the costs. http://hellasfrappe.blogspot.gr/2012/06/crisis-in-health-care-decreases-access.html
89,7 % of the Greeks have, according to a poll, difficulties, to afford the medicine they need. At Attika, the cardiology and the vascular clinic have been closed. At Rhodos, Chios, and Lerissa, patients have to pay by themselves for disposable materials.
At the 8th international heart congress, an increase of depressions and of strokes, and a quadruplication of heart attacks with at the same time difficulties in paying the heart medicaments has been reported. According to the Greek health ministry, the number of suicides has increased by 45 % from the first semester 2010 to the first semester 2011.
In an open letter to all Greeak political parties and to the ministries of health and of finance, 23 associations of cancer patients have described the suffering of this group of patients, who not only have to pay for their medicine, but even for their disposable materials, und of whom many have been waiting (according to the charge) already for 6 months, if and when their insurance will reimburse their costs to them. The lack of medicaments in hospitals at Greece has already reached the extent of a humanitarian catastrophe, as the medical association of Greece has warned in a letter to the United Nations.
(source for the in the following paragraph quoted numbers is the Greek charge already filed to the ICC)
III.3 human rights expert criticizes Greek austerity measures
In view of the special importance of the universal human rights for the interpretation of the Roman Statute, also the opinion of the independent expert of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations on the effect of the financial crisis on the realization of the universal human rights, is of eminent importance, because it shows, that the conditions of the Troika do not show any serious orientation on the universal human rights.
The independent expert of the UN Human Rights Council on foreign debt and human rights, Cephas Lumina, has, already in 2011, stated the violation of universal human rights by the then second austerity package for Greece (article „Greek austerity measures violate human rights, UN expert says“ of the 01.07.2011). http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=38901&Cr=austerity&Cr1
He has explicitely emphasized the preeminence of the universal human rights, and has urged the Greek government to remain proportionate regarding the austerity measures. He recommended, especially to respect the universal human rights to food, water, and housing (all art. 11 UN Social Pact) and to fair and equitable conditions (art. 7 UN Social Pact). He regarded as especially affected by the then privatizations and expenditure cuts poor, elderly, jobless, and handicapped people.
Mr. Lumina explicitely called ECB, IMF, and EU Commission, to remain conscious of the effects of their conditions on human rights for Greece and other states, and he predicted towards them, that there will be no permanent solution to the debt problem without taking into account the human rights.
He did not speak of an only insufficient consideration of the human rights, but his formulation „if the human rights of the people are not taken into account“ exposes, that the conditions of the Troika even do not show, in how far the Troika has considered the human rights at all in their process of drafting their conditions.
And these critical words even directly in view of the UN special organization IMF have been published at a time, when Mr. Lumina could not have known, how deeply the Greek health system would be attacked by the conditions of February 2012.
III.5 the attack on the nutrition at Greece
The study „Issues in measuring absolute poverty: The case of Greece“ by Thanasis Maniatis, Yannis Bassakios, George Labrindinis, and Costas Passas from May 2011 deals with the definition of an absolute poverty line for Greece. For the the assessment regarding human rights as well as for the assessment regarding universal penalty law, the absolute poverty line is crucial. There is also a relative poverty line, which says only, how many per cent of the population have an income of less than 50% respectively 60% of the average income. Table 1 on page. 6 of the study shows the little meaningfulness of the relative poverty line, where countries like Hungary or Slovakia have a significant better ranking than the significantly richer Canada, where even for the poorest one of the best health systems of the world is available, which is shown by the good ranking of Canada within the human development index of the UNDP.
link to Greek study: http://www.iippe.org/wiki/images/8/80/CONF_2011_Thanasis_Maniatis.pdf
link to human development index: http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/HDR_2011_EN_Table1.pdf
The study defines the poverty line for the year 2009 according to the needed financial means for the areas accomodation, food, clothing, and transport, differenciated each for households with one to five persons, and differentiated to tenants and to persons, who only have to pay the additional costs for their accomodation. This way, the study come to the following costs of living for the year 2009 (page 27):
Poverty line with rent (in €)
Poverty line without rent (in €)
Who has less than these amounts to his disposal at Greece, has too little for either accomodation, food, clothing, or transport. The deeper the income is below these numbers, the higher is the probability, that the respective persons are starving.
The study has been completed in 2011 for 2009. The creation of the humanitarian catastrophe in the Greek health sector has been caused and is being caused, as shown in parts III.1 and III.2 of this letter, especially by the conditions of the Troika since February 2012. For the definition of the minimal living income at Greece today, it would also be necessary to add to the numbers above the average moderating fees or costs completely carried by the patients, either relating to all Greek patients, or related to the health status of the poorer groups of the population, or to differentiate the numbers to be added more to specific expensive, but not rare, diseaes (such as e. g. cancer, heart diseases, diabetes, or kidney diseases).
As far as expensive diseases appear, starvation probably also exists for people with an income above the absolute poverty line.
The study shows in table 3 on page 28, that the standard wage NGCLA in 2009 for a single person is at
590,- € and for two working parents at together 1.300,- €. That has been the situation before the interventions of the Troika into the law of the collective labour agreements. And it has already been at that time below the absolute poverty line. In how far there have or are higher collective labour agreements for specific segments of the economy, is not known to me.
According to the Ekathimerini article „Over 2 mln Greeks living below poverty line in 2010“ of the 02.11.2012, referring to the Greek statistics authority ELSTAT 2,34 million Greek people have lived in 2010 below the poverty line.
In this regard, Ekathimerini refers to the absolute poverty line 2010 according to ELSTAT of 6.591,- € per person (so 549,25 € per month). The number of private households below the poverty line in 2010 has been 901.190.
These ELSTAT numbers are confirmed by the article „Over 2.3 mln Greeks living below poverty line“ of the Azeri medium APA of the 03.11.2012.
And the poverty line according to ELSTAT is already set very low. Because a more exact look into table 2 of the above mentioned Greek study of May 2011 shows, that a one person – household has needed already in ts 2009 for accomodation (rent and additional costs) and food together (431, 69 € + 101,13 € =) 542,82 €, so that with the poverty line according to ELSTAT nearly nothing would remain for clothing and transport.
According to the Phantis article „More than 400,000 children hungry at Greece“ of the 06.04.2012, 20,1 % of the households and 439.000 children at Greece are living below the poverty line. http://www.phantis.com/news/more-400000-children-hungry-greece
Phantis concludes from this the undernourishment of these children. These numbers are from the report „The State of the Children in Greece Report“ of UNICEF Greece, published in March 2012. link:http://www.unicef.gr/pdfs/State_of_the_Children_in_Greece_Report_2012_Summary.pdf
The UNICEF Greece report, in turn refers regarding the 439.000 children under the poverty line to numbers of the EU statistics authority EUROSTAT for 2010.
Unfortunately, it is not known to me, at which monthly amount UNICEF Greece defines the poverty line.
Of these 20,1 %, according to Phantis, the nutrition of 21,6 % (so related the total population 4,34 %) lacks of animal protein.
According to Phantis, the poverty line at Greece is at 470,- € per month. Der Phantis-Artikel sees the official poverty line related to a household of 4 persons. I presume, that a poverty line of 470,- € per person of such a household respectively for the total household (4 * 470,- € =) 1.880,- € per month is meant.
Phantis says, that, according to official estimations, 21% of the Greeks are living below the poverty line. The medium itself estimates 25% (2,8 million of a total of 11,2 million Greeks). The Greek network on the fight against poverty (EAPN) is quoted, that soon 30% will be reached; this number has recently be confirmed by a study of the foundation for economical and industrial research (IOBE).
In addition to that, according to Phantis, 400.000 Greek families are without any income from work.
Even though I do not know the exact number of starving people at Greece, the numbers explained above, however, show clearly, that in a large scale and systematically, it is being accepted, that millions of people at Greece are threatened of starvation.
III.5 drastical cuts at Portugal and Spain and hunger at Spain
At Spain, a humanitarian catastrophe in the area of nutrition already exists because of the austerity measures. Spain and Portugal are moving in big steps towards a humanitarian catastrophe in the health sector.This shows, that the disregard of the social universal human rights regarding the austerity measures for the obtai- ning of the means for the banks, can lead to humanitarian catastrophes within few years or even only months, regarding to which questions regarding art. 7 par. 1 lit. k Roman Statute arise.
In the parts III.1+III.2 of this letter, the connection between concrete conditions of a memorandum of understanding and its effects for the health have, at least for Greece, been shown.
For Spain and Portugal, for this purpose, also the humanitarian effects would have to be compared to the conditions, in order to relate, what has been effected by the conditions of the Troika within EFSM respectively EFSF, what by the conditions within the deficit procedure, what is possibly caused by the policy in these countries. But that is not the topic of this letter. Here shall, at the moment insofar only be shown, that the interference of the ICC regarding Greece is necessary also in the sense of the preventing art. 7 Roman Statute for Portugal and Spain. Already the official start of investigations on Greece by the ICC will set a decisive sign, in order to save the lives of countless patients and of starving long-term jobless people also at Portugal and Spain.
Latest after the enactment of art. 136 Abs. 3 AEUV, austerity measures are threatening in all states of the eurozone, which systematically intervene so deeply especially into the human right to the, for the respective human being, attainable highest degree of health (art. 12 UN Social Pact), but also into the universal human right to food (art. 11 UN Social Pact), that in all these states including Germany the crimes against humanity according to art. 7 par 1 lit. k Roman Statute are threatening (see part IV. of this letter).
This is shown by the attack on the health system of Portugal, where, according to the taz article „ein Monatslohn für den Staat“ of the 17.10.2012 with 19,5% the biggest procentual cuts are planned in the health sector. Within a few months, if such drastical cuts were implemented, also at Portugal questions regarding the Roman Statute could arise.
Moreover, friends of me from the province Alentejo have told us, that the hospital responsible for the region can only do an emergence supply any more, and that you already today have to drive from there with a broken bone or after a heart attack more than 250 kilometers, if you need more than an emergency treatment. The situation at Portugal is already today much worse, than it had been visible by the original memorandum of understanding at 2011.
According to the taz article „Spanien spart sich seinen Sozialstaat“ of the 25.10.2012, now also at Spain, at least 22,6 % from the tax revenues for the health system shall be streaked out. http://www.taz.de/1/archiv/digitaz/artikel? ressort=au&dig=2012%2F10%2F25%2Fa0045&cHash=446287ecd7fa9eba54bf3bea93e63877
And the inhumanity is exposed in very clearness at Spain, where the Red Cross, for the first time in the history of the country, has asked for food donations in view of 300.000,- starving people (taz article „Spanien abgewertet“ of the 12.10.2012).
III.6 further destruction of the health sector at Romania
Romania is one of the states, which have got, under EU regulaton (EG) 332/2002 an emergency loan with strict conditions. This regulation is similar to the EFSM of the european financial mechanism, but for EU member states outside the eurozone.
At Romania, not only the reduction of the pensions by 15% has been demanded and been rushed through by government and parliament, but also moderating fees for the ambulant medical supply, even though at Romania already before the IMF (respectively the Troika) for stays at the hospital everything from medicaments to material has had to be paid by the patients themselves, and the health insurance has paid nearly only the work of the doctor, and even though the hygiene at the hospital is so bad, that many patients are infected there with tuberculosis. Now even the amubulant health care shall be taken away from the poor. 150 to 200 of the 435 Romanian hospitals are going to be closed and the rest to be transferred to the Romanian municipalities, most of them also are close to bankruptcy. Between 9.300 and 10.000 beds are going to be reduced in those hospitals, which are not directly going to be closed.
The mentioned numbers are from the year 2010, as the follwing links prove:
http://www.wsws.org/de/2010/jun2010/ruma-j09-shtml http://www.wsws.org/de/2010/apr2010/ruma-a5.shtml http://www.wsws.ord/de/2010/jun2010/ruma-j18.shtml
Also the taz confirms, that there have been since 2010, and still are, drastical cuts in the Romanian health system because of the conditions of the Troika. According to the article „Gott sei Dank nicht mehr in die Klinik“ of the 17.01.2012, the „health supply in the poorest EU country“ is collapsing „piece for piece“. The health expenditures are with 3,5% to 4% of the GDP only at the half of the EU average. 40.000 doctors are missing in the country, tenthousands of doctors and male nurses have emigrated. In some rural regions there is „scarcely health supply, in some small towns only very limited.“
According to the article, an orderly medical treatment is only available with bribery. The sufferers are poor and old people.
Because of the austerity measures, among them, besides drastical cuts in the health system, also cuts of the wages in the public sector by 25% and of the pensions and of many social benefits by between 15% and 25%, meanwhile already 3 million Romanians have emigrated, most of them to Italy, Spain, and Germany. http://www.taz.de/!85782/
Romania’s health sector has already been severely damaged by the IMF in the 1990ies (part V.2 of this letter).
IV. proof of the systematical nature of the attack by means of the „little treaty change“ (art. 136 par. 3 TFEU)
IV.1 safeguarding the financial sector as the real cause of the excessive strictness
The pain caused by the excessive conditions at the cost of the Greeks, has not primarily to do with the Greeks. The liquidity problems of the country have only been used as an opportunity, in order to be able to establish more and more mechanisms for the securing of the financial sector. This is the real suspected motive of the crime.
The Greeks have been chosen as only the first victims. The Germans like all inhabitants of the eurozone are going to be treated later, namely of the enactment of art. 136 par. 3 TFEU.
A new art. 136 par. 3 TFEU is going to be inserted into the EU primary law, whose wording is as follows:
„The Member States whose currency is the euro, may establish a stability mechanism to be activated if indispensable to safeguard the stability of the euro area as a whole. The granting of any required financial assistance under the mechanism will be made subject under strict conditionality.“
This does, however, not really aim at the stability of the common currency, neither at the inner stability, nor at the stability of the exchange rate, and also not at putting the public finances onto their feet again, but only at the „financial stability“.
This is proven by:
-par. 2+4 of the considerations of the 16./17.12.2010 to the initiation of art. 136 par. 3 TFEU
-no. 11 of the conclusions of the European Council of the 23./24.06.2011, according to which the Prime Ministers want to do everything for the „financial stability“ http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/ec/123075.pdf
The conclusions of the summit of the 24./25.03.2011 prove the definition of „financial stability“ as the stability of the financial sector, i. e. especially of banks. http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/ec/120296.pdf
By means of art. 136 par. 3 TFEU, one wants to create always new mechanisms for the safeguarding of banks, of whom hitherto especially two groups of mechanisms are known, namely those of the European financial mechanism („Greece support“, EFSM, EFSF, and ESM) and those for the enabling of the EU Commission as the „EU economic government“ (tightening of the Stability and Growth Pact, Imbalance Procedure, and Budgetary Survaillance).
In the European financial mechanism, the conditions are always drafted by the „Troika“, consisting EU Commission, IMF, and ECB, under the lead of the EU Commission, and are decided by the financial ministers respectively by their permanent secretaries (in the EFSF) or (as a possibility in the ESM) by directors, who are chosen by the financial ministers. Within the Stability and Growth Pact and the Imbalance Mechanism as well as in a part of the Budgetary Surveillance, the conditions are drafted by the EU Commission and decided by the EU Council of Ministers. Within a part of the Budgetary Surveillance, the EU Commission itself decides on the conditions. And the ESM prohibits via collective action clauses every sovereignly managed state bankruptcy, in order to force the countries of the eurozone, when they are bankrupt, into a state insolvency procedure, in which they get additional political conditions by their private creditors (part IV.4 of this letter).
All these mechanisms of the „European financial mechanism“ aim at giving loans to states of the eurozone with liquidity problems, in order to enable them to pay their hitherto creditors, or (only with EFSF and ESM) to recapitalizie banks, and the countries get „strict“ conditions at the cost of their inhabitants. The tightening of the Growth and Stability Pact aims at strict conditions for states with too high deficit or too high debt, the Imbalance Procedure at strict interventions of the EU Commission into into any matters of wage, finance, or economic policy of the member states, and the Economic Surveillance at any interventions of the EU Commission into the draft budgets of the governments of the member states.
All these mechanisms are primarily directed to bringing together enough financial means for the securing of the „financial stability“ of the financial sector at the cost of the other inhabitants of the member states.
To the populations of the EU member states, however, it has been pretended, that the aim was the protection of the currency and of the public finances. It seems very improbable, that the Prime Ministers of all 17 states of the eurozone or even alle 27 Prime Ministers of all countries of the European Union would ever consciously put the „financial stability“ of the financial sector above the rights of their inhabitants.
I rather believe, that for the question of guilt before the ICC for the suffering caused against the Greeks, it could be of significant importance, who has invented this deception.
IV.2 the obligation to the „strictness“ as the system of inhumanity
All financial assistances in the scope of mechanisms connected to art. 136 par. 3 s. 1 TFEU for the protection of the „financial stability“ of the financial sector would be connected, according to art. 136 par. 3 s. 2 TFEU, to „strict“ conditions.
The „strictness“ of the conditions is for all these mechanisms planned as in the „practice“ of the IMF (Ecofin Council (economic and financial ministers in the EU Council of Ministers) of the 10.05.2010) respectively „very strict“ according to no. 49 of the report of the „task force“ of the 21.10.2010. The „task force“ included the federal finance ministers of alle EU member states as well as EU Commissioner Olli Rehn, the then ECB chef Jean-Claude Trichet, the chairman of the Eurogroup Jean Claude Juncker, and the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy, who at the same time leaded the task force.
conclusions of the economic and finance ministers (Ecofin) in the Council of Ministers of the 10.05.2010 (file number SN 2564/1/10) http://www.bundesregierung.de/Content/DE/__Anlagen/2010/20100510beschluesseeurolaenderfinanzministe r,property=publicationFile.pdf
recommendations of the „task force“ of the 21.10.2010
The ESM, in addition to that, is obliged by art. 3 ESM Treaty, to make „strict“ conditions.
The economic government is obliged by consideration no. 3 in connection with art. 6 of EU regulation 2011/385 (COD), to impose „strict „ conditoins (see also part IV.3 of this letter) http://ec.europa.eu/europa2020/pdf/proposal_strength_eco_en.pdf
In addition to that, all conditions within the EFSF are, according to the preamble of the EFSF Framework Treaty, planned as strict as they are towards Greece:
see EFSF Framework Treaty of the 07.06.2010
in 2011 concluded modified EFSF Framework Treaty (draft of the 26.08.2011)
The „practice“ of the IMF is something completely different than the content of the statute of the IMF. In the statute of the IMF, there is no obligation to inhumanity at all. By means of an excessive immunity against penalty law and against liability as well as by means of excessive payment, however, the standards of moral and of viewing the world are, within the IMF, in a way shifted, resulting in IMF conditions without any respect to basic rights and to human rights of the inhabitants of the debtor countries.
The Roman Statute is the basis solely for the prosecution of crimes, which have been committed at the 01.07.2002 or later, like the suspected crime against humanity against the Greek people. For crimes before that date, a prosecution is not possible by the ICC, but possibly by international ad hoc – courts like those for Ruanda and Jugoslavia or by national courts of the respective victim state.
In view of the systematical obligation of the conditions to a strictness as in the „practice“ of the IMF, which would be valid with the enactment of art. 136 par. 3 TFEU, it is however crucial for the interpretation, what a strictness according to the „practice“ of the IMF means, to look also at older conditions – for the proof, that an obligation to the strictness as in the „practice“ of the IMF implies, to intervene, for the securing of the financial sector, so deep into the human rights to health (art. 12 UN Social Pact) and to food (art. 11 UN Social Pact), that this reaches systematically up to art. 7 par. 1 lit. k Roman Statute.
The initiation of an investigation by the ICC is necessary also in order to set a crucial sign just in time, in order to prevent the systematic inhumanity from being entrenched with the rank of EU primary law by means of art. 136 par. 3 s. 2 TFEU, because this would put this strictness, from the perspective of the EU, over any law of the United Nations !
IV.3 the Budgetary Surveillance and the instrumentalization of EU funds
EU regulation 2011/385 (COD) is together with EU regulation 2011/0386 (COD) planned as the EU secondary law legal basis for the Budgetary Surveillance of the states of the eurozone by the EU Commission. You find it at the link: http://ec.europa.eu/europa2020/pdf/proposal_strength_eco_en.pdf
Via consideration 3 and art. 6 of EU regulation 2011/385 (COD), the EU Commission could impose on every country of the eurozone, which receives financial support by one or several other states, by the IMF, the EFSF, or the ESM, additional „strict“ conditions, whereas these mainly found consist in stricter versions of already exististing conditions from the deficit procedure (of the Stability and Growth Pact) and of the Imbalance Procedure.
If these tightened conditions are not fulfilled, as additional sanctions towards the respective country would be used the cut of the EU funds (named in consideration no. 7) ELER agricultural funds (especially for extensive and for ecological agriculture), EU social funds, EU fishery funds, EU structural funds (for rural regions), and EU cohesion funds (for poor regions).
EU regulation 2011/0386 (COD) enables, via its articles 5, 6, and 9, the EU Commission, to intervene in any draft budgets of the countries of the eurozone. http://ec.europa.eu/europa2020/pdf/proposal_monito_assess_en.pdf
The national and regional parliaments of the states of the eurozone could still decide on their budgets, but the non-compliance of the „opinions“ (art. 6) of the Commission by the member states would take them auto- matically (art. 9) into the deficit procedure of the Stability and Growth Pact, even if their deficit and their debts are not excessive, or if they even reduce their debts.
By means of art. 21 of EU regulation 2011/0276 (COD), cutting the same EU funds as by means of EU regulation 2011/385 (COD) is planned for the case of non-compliance with conditions. The difference is, that according to art. 21 par. 1 EU regulation 2011/0276 (COD) would prescribe the instrumentalization for putting through the conditions of (lit. b) the deficit procedure of the Stability and Growth Pact, of (lit. c) the Imbalance Procedure, of (lit. d i.) the EFSM, of (lit. d ii.) the financial mechanism for the EU member states without the euro (as e. g. Romania) (regulation (EG) Nr. 332/2002), and of (lit. d iii.) of the ESM. http://ec.europa.eu/edf/BlobServlet?docId=233&langId=en
The combination of any interventions into the draft budgets and of the instrumentalization of the named EU funds would make especially the poorer regions, the family agriculture, and the ecological agriculture, and even food aid via the eu social fund, dependend on the mercy of the Commission. The possibility of healthy respectively of corporate-free nutrition in the states of the eurozone would become a political pound of the Commssion – and that combined with a strictness according to the „practice“ of the IMF (art. 136 par. 3 TFEU, part IV.2 of this letter).
In the case of non-compliance with the conditions, agricultural enterprises would be ruined, and food aid would be reduced or ended, as a result of the cuts into the mentioned EU funds. Both would increase the number of starving people in the eurozone and would contribute to further cases of art. 7 par. 1 lit. k Roman Statuten. Also this shows the systematical attack and the large scope.
IV.4 political power partly in the hands of the private creditors via the state insolvency procedure of the ESM
The ESM is the hardest of the mechanisms tied to art. 136 par. 3 TFEU. The even in comparison to the IMF stronger immunity of the ESM will probably only be broken by art. 27 Roman Statute or by constitutional judgements to come. The ESM is planned as an independent international organization with, at first, a rank of simple international law, thus below the „ius cogens“, below the EU law, and below every national constituion. A later elevation of the ESM Treaty to the rank of EU primary law, however, is planned according to the prolog and the epilog of the statement to the euro summit of the 09.12.2011.
link: http://ralpherns.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/documento_cumbre_bruselas_9d_2011.pdf Additionally to the obligation to the strictness according to the „practice“ of the IMF, art. 12 par. 3 ESM
Treaty obliges all countries of the eurozone, to attach collective action clauses to all of their bonds, which they emit starting from the 01.01.2013.
As the law „Gesetz zur Änderung des Bundesschuldenwesengesetzes“ (file number 17/9049) in Germany as one of the accompanying laws to the ESM proves, these collective action clauses are made to prohibit to the countries of the eurozone any souvereignly managed state bankruptcy, and to force them instead into the state insolvency procedure of the ESM, where on them are imposed political conditions not only by the Troika, but also by the private creditors, where the biggest private creditors of the states (the big banks) would have high shares of the votes because of the level of their financial claims. Link:http://dipbt.bundestag.de/dip21/btd/17/090/1709049.pdf
By means of art. 136 par. 3 TFEU and the ESM, an anti – human rights, partial, and radical representation of bank interests is going to be legalized over the whole eurozone, without any respect to the human rights of the population, which exists with the IMF at least since the 1980ies, and which is called „Vienna Initiative“ (see also part V.4 of this letter).
IV.5 how art. 136 par. 3 TFEU threatens to oust the universal law
The IMF law has the rank of normal international law, it stands like the vast majority of international law just one stage above the simple national law (art. 27 Vienna Treaty Law Convention), and so clearly below the universal human rights, which belong to the „ius cogens“.
The IMF itself is not bound to the universal human rights, but because of the preeminence of the universal human rights in comparison to the IMF law, no debtor state has ever been entitled or obliged, to fulfill the conditions of the IMF any further, than they are compatible with the universal human rights.
The UN Charter is, according to its own art. 103, the highest-ranking international treaty. Because the UN Charter, at the same obliges to the respect for the sovereignty of the states (art. 2 par. 1 UN Charter), the UN Charter itself, as a result, is positioned directly below the national constitutions of the UN member states, but above any other international treaties.
The rank of the universal human rights, i. e. the UDHR and the human rights treaties of the United Nations, is, regarded from the perspective of the universal human rights law itself, below the UN Charter (art. 29 no. 3 UDHR), but above the rest of the international law (art. 28 UDH, art. 1 no. 3 UN Charter), except for the Geneva and Haag Conventions of humanitarian law, which are equal-ranking to the universal human rights (ICJ advisory opinion of the 08.07.1996 “Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice of 8 July 1996, The Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons, Reports 1996”).
The UN Charter and the universal human rights belong to the „ius cogens“, the highest category of nearly world-wide valid international law (no. 279-282 of the judgement of the EU Court of First Instance on file number T-306/01, and the ICJ advisory opinion of the 08.07.1996 mentioned above).
Also the prohibition of the criminal acts, which are included in the Roman Statute, must be „ius cogens“, because before the Roman Statute there has been a resolution of the UN General Assembly of 1946, but a ratified international treaty has existed not before the Roman Statute. The ad hoc courts at Nuremburg, on Japan, on Ruanda, and on Yugoslavia can, in view of the prohibition derived from human rights (art. 11 par. 2 UDHR) of retroactive penalty, only have had a valid legal basis within the „ius cogens“.
In my legal point of view, also the Roman Statute itself is „ius cogens“, because prescriptions like that for the one for breaking through even the immunity of other international organizations (art. 27 Roman Statute) is a clear argument for „ius cogens“.
The TEU and the TFEU and the protocols and annexes to these two treaties are the EU primary law. The EU primary law has, from its own perspective, a rank above the national constitutions of the member states (art. 1 TEU, art. 51 TEU, declaration no.17 in the annexes to TFEU and TEU). This stands in contradiction to the rank of the UN Charter and of the universal human rights, because also the EU law is international law.
The constitutional courts react, depending on their constitutional situation, differently on the rank claim of the EU law. According to continuous jurisdiction of the Polish constitutional court, the Polish constitution is the highest law at Poland and so stands also above the EU law (see e. g. Judgement of the 16.11.2011). The German constitutional court regards since the Lisbon judgement of the 30.06.2009 the constitutional identity (especially basic rights and structure principles, but also the state objectives peace principle (art. 1 par. 2
Basic Law, see foreword of this letter) and European integration (art. 23 Basic Law)) as standing above the EU law (basic principle 4 and no. 216+217 Lisbon judgement), but allows the EU primary law a rank above the rest of the German Basic Law (no. 240) – except for the common foreign and safety policy of the EU (no. 255 + 342), which has the rank of only normal international law. According to basic principle 3 of the Lisbon judgement, the implementation of the EU law has to leave enough space for the universal human rights, but the German constitutional court has not clarified, if it regards the EU secondary law (EU guidelines, EU regulations, etc.) or the universal human rights as higher-ranking.
Also the Latvian constitutional court has in its judgement of the 22.12.2009 (file number 2009-43-01) confirmed the preemince of the basic rights and structure principles of the Latvian constitution before the EU law.
In art. 29 par. 4 no. 10 of the Irish constitution, however, an explicit preeminence of the EU law before the Irish constitution is prescribed.
The EU law, even though the high rank it claims for itself, does NOT belong to the „ius cogens“, because this category comes only into consideration for law, which is at least nearly world-wide valid.
These examples show, that the rank claims of the EU law and of the universal human rights stand in compe- tition to each other, and that many EU member states regard the EU primary law (except for the common foreign and safety policy CFSP), but not necessarily the EU secondary law, as standing above the universal human rights.
If now art. 136 par. 3 TFEU entered into force, then, at least from the view of the EU law and of most EU member states, the systematical obligation to always new mechanisms for the „financial stability“ with a strictness, which ignores the universal human rights and reaches on to art. 7 par. 1 lit. k Roman Statute, would stand above the universal human rights and also above the Roman Statute.
This woud imply, that because of art. 136 par. 3 AEUV, the human rights and also the Roman Statute would systematically only be applied in the countries of the eurozone any more, as they are compatible with conditions of the Troika, whose strictness would reach, because of the obligation to the „practice“ of the IMF, on to art. 7 par. 1 lit. k Roman Statute.
In addition to that, art. 351 TFEU (the former art. 226 TEC) obliges the EU member states, as far as these are bound to international treaties, which collide with EU primary law, to eliminate these incompabilies with the EU primary law.
How far this obligation can go from the perspective of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), shows its judgement of the 01.02.2005 in the case Commission v. Austria (file number C-203/03) (no. 61 of the judgement), that Austria had to terminate the ILO Convention no. 45 for the protection of women in mining with effect to the next possible date provided for in that treaty, because this convention collidies with an EU guideline (with EU secondary law). The collision has been, that the EU guideline has given more importance to the equal rights between men and women, and the ILO convention has given more importance to the protection of women against kinds of work in mining, which are hard or are risky to health.
So in the judgement on C-203/03, the ECJ has forced Austria to terminate its membership in an ILO convention with the rank of normal international law, because this convention has collided with EU secondary law, even though the then art. 226 TEC (today art. 351 TFEU) is a legal basis for an obligation to terminate international treaties only in cases of collisions with EU primary law. Link:http://curia.europa.eu/juris/showPdf.jsf;jsessionid=9ea7d2dc30db92332c9a56434bba8c9fbf45957d246 3.e34KaxiLc3qMb40Rch0SaxuKbNn0? text=&docid=49900&pageIndex=0&doclang=EN&mode=lst&dir=&occ=first&part=1&cid=553937
After the enactment of art. 136 par. 3 TFEU, art. 351 TFEU would have the effect, that the countries of the eurozone would, from the point of view of the EU law, be obliged to loosen their obligations to the universal human rights and to the Roman Statute of the ICC in a way, that would make sure, that they could not impede always new mechanisms connected to art. 136 par. 3 TFEU, which have strictness according to the „practice“ of the IMF and ignoring all human rights. This would most probably mean, that the countries would be obliged, to add a reservation to the universal human rights treaties ratified by the respecitve countries, to the UDHR, an to the Roman Statute, in the way, that the universal human rights and the universal penalty law would not be applicable any more to the respective state, insofar as the conditions of mechanisms connected to art. 136 par. 3 TFEU are concerned.
At Greece, already today the universal human rights to health (art. 12 UN Social Pact) and to food (art. 11 UN Social Pact) are violated by the conditions of the Troika to such an extent and so systematically, that there obviously is a case of art. 7 par. 1 lit. k Roman Statute, but by means of art. 136 par. 3 TFEU the universal human rights themselves would be pushed aside.
IV.6 how art. 136 par. 3 TFEU would lay the axe on the EU itself
According to art. 53 Vienna Treaty Law Convention and to art. 64 Vienna Treaty Law Convention, international treaties, which are incompatible with the „ius cogens“, are void.
Art. 136 par. 3 TFEU with its obligation to cruelty and at the same time with its claimed rank above all law of the United Nations, is, as especially shown in the parts IV.2 +IV.3 of this letter, obviously incompatible with the „ius cogens“ of the universal human rights and of the Roman Statute.
Art. 71 Vienna Treaty Law Convention includes the possibility, to change international treaties, which collide with „ius cogens“, in order to avoid the voidness of these treaties.
This shows, that art. 136 par. 3 TFEU, which would entrench the inhumanity, which is happening at Greece, into EU primary law, and which proves the systematical nature of this cruelty, threatens the legal existence of the TFEU and thus threatens the legal existence of the EU.
This isn’t any originary conflict between the EU and the UN at all, but a „hostile takeover“, as one would name it at the stock exchange, of the EU for the securing and the enrichment of banks, for which is even being risked, that the very legal basis of the existence of the EU becomes invalid.
V. exemples for the strictness of the „practice“ of the IMF, reaching on to art. 7 par. 1 lit. k Roman Statute
This part serves to further prove, what a strictness according to the „practice“ of the IMF is, and that for the case of non-action of the ICC in view of the suspected crimes against humanity at Greece according to art. 7 par. 1 lit. k Roman Statute, one can prognosticate comparable systematical excessively deep interventions in all countries of the eurozone because of art. 136 par. 3 TFEU.
V.1 prognosticable conditions against the food supply
The credit conditions of the IMF destroy intentiously the ability of the states, to independently provide their own population with food, and they serve for the effect, that less areas are available for food cultivation and more areas for the export.
A central motive for the intentious decline of the food supply of the whole population of a debtor state seems to be, that this way whole peoples, and not only governments and parliaments, can easier be forced to obey to other conditions and to the debt servicing. Because food is, in contrast to capital, no societal fiction, but necessary for survival. The conditions always aim at making impossible a food supply independent of the world market. Most often, the currency devaluation imposed by the IMF, leads to market-distortingly high prices for the import of fertiliziers, pesticides, tractors, etc.; in addition to that, price limits for these imports are prohibited. The purchasing power of the domestic customers of the farmers is destroyed by the enforced reduction of wages and of social benefits. Social institutons for the farmers, e. g. for the distribution of water and for additional subventions in times of market price declines, are abolished. Support shipments of highly subventioned agrarian surpluses are, where trade liberalization does not suffice, used intentiously to ruin whole economical segments of family farmers. Where all this is not enough, sometimes smaller agricultural enterprizes are simply prohibited (e. g. at Peru) or projects are financed (e. g. at Mozambique), which imply the expulsion of formers. With the destruction of the family farmers structures and with the aim of the bigger enterprizes to the export, the states do not only become dependend on the import of fertilizer, pesticides, etc., but also on the import of food, which they have to pay in hard currency – and that together with an own currency, that has been artificially devaluated at the command of the IMF.
According to the chapter “50 Jahre Bretton Woods” („50 years Bretton Woods“) in Uwe Hoering’s book
“Zum Beispiel IWF & Weltbank” („for example IMF and World Bank“) (Süd-Nord Lamuv publishing house), riots have taken place because of cuts into subventions imposed by the IMF:
-1985 at Bolivia (because of cuts into food and fuel subventions)
-1986 at Zambia (because of cuts into food subventions)
-1989 at Venezuela (because of cuts into fuel and transport subventions)
The IMF has demanded, even during the Asia crisis, also from Indonesia cuts into the food and fuel subventions („Die Chancen der Globalisierung“, Joseph Stiglitz, Pantheon publishing house, p. 304).
The cuts into food subventions as IMF imposed conditions are no singular cases, but rather usual:
„…for Western banks, which wanted to safeguard their credits, money was there, but not for the minimal food subventions, which should save human beings from dying of starvation.“
(„Die Chancen der Globalisierung“, Joseph Stiglitz, Pantheon publishing house, p. 39)
At Somalia, a country, 50% of whose population have worked as livestock breeders (p. 97, „The Globaliziation of Poverty and the New World Order“, Prof. Dr. Michel Chossudovsky), since the beginning of the 1980ies, because of IMF conditions, the currency has been devaluated (resulting in rising costs of fuel and fertilizer, p. 96) , the grain market been deregulated (p. 96), the veterinary services been privatized (p. 96), the emergency supplys of animal fodder been abolished (p. 96), the water been privatized (p. 97), and the fight against erosion been neglected (p. 97). In sum, the public agricultural expenditures have been reduced by 85% (p. 97) in comparison to the middle of the 1970ies. The collapse of the Somalian agriculture also is shown by the fact, that at the beginning of the 1980ies, the sale of food aid had already become the main source of revenue for the Somalian government (p. 97).
At Ruanda, the 1990 structural adjustment program of the IMF served for starvation. In the country, which had already been focused on coffee cultivation, the national fund for the securing against falling coffee prices has been abolished together with all other public agricultural funds. Added to this were the known effects of currency devaluation and trade liberalization on the domestic agriculture (p. 106 + 107, „The Globaliziation of Poverty and the New World Order“, Prof. Dr. Michel Chossudovsky). Finally at 1992, even the coffee price for the farmers of Ruanda has been legally limited because of a condition of the World Bank (p. 108). Amidst the Ruandan civil war, the IMF enforced a further currency devaluation even though the country already had to export a part of its food because of the one-sided focus on coffee cultivation (p. 108). The trade liberalization of the grain markets enforced by IMF and World Bank have had the effect, that the food aid has been implemented in a way, which has further ruined the domestic agricultural production (p. 109). According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, over 1 million people have been starving at Ruanda at 1993 (p. 122, foot note 14). Ruanda has, even though the dominant coffee cultivation, been self- sufficient regarding food, until it has allowed in 1990, because of an IMF credit condition, the dumping of highly subventioned US and EU food surpluses (p. 140).
At Mozambique, IMF and World Bank have supported with their credit conditions big agricultural projects, for which the state has obliged itself, to replace to expel family farmers for the benefit of big firms, which are focused on export (p. 126-131, „The Globaliziation of Poverty and the New World Order“, Prof. Dr. Michel Chossudovsky), and which do contribute nothing to the nutrition of the Mozambiquans.
Ethiopia produces enough for the covering of 90% of the existential needs of its inhabitants. According to the world food organization FAO, from 1999 to 2000, the province Amhara reached 20% respectively 500.000 t grain surplus, and the province Oromiya 600.000 t grain surplus. At the same time, at Amhara were 2,8 million people starving, and at Oromiya 1,6 million people, a clear example, how the one-sided orientation on export, which has been imposed by IMF and World Bank, in combination with the destruction of the food cultivation for the domestic market creates starvation (p. 137+138, „The Globaliziation of Poverty and the New World Order“, Prof. Dr. Michel Chossudovsky), particularly sind half of the export revenue went into the debt servicing (p. 139). The hunger appears at Ethiopia with a regionally stongly varying distribution, as a result from the prohibition of the financial redistribution between the provinces and the federal level, which had been imposed by the IMF (p. 139), with the result, that the starvation areas did not get any financial aid against the hunger from the federal level or from the other regions any more. Before the starvation at Ethiopia, the World Bank imposed removal of the price limits for fuel and fertilizer (p. 139) and the also World Bank credit condition imposed removal of all Ethiopian agricultural subventions had taken place. The
agricultural trade has been liberalized at the command of the IMF (p. 139). Ethiopia has been forced, for the ruin of its family farmers food production by means of food aid with genetically manipulated grain, to allow the access of seeds corporations on the public seeds reserves, and been forced to cancel the family farmers’ seeds network (p. 142+143).
The deregulation of the grain market at Kenya, imposed by IMF and World Bank, as well as the also commanded prohibition of any distribution of food by the state and prohibition of even any public regulation of the food distribution have led in 1991 and 1992 to the starvation of nearly 2 million people at Kenya’s dryer provinces (p. 140).
At Zimbabwe and Malawi, the IMF enforced the change from food cultivation to tobacco cultivation.
At 1992, the maize harvest declined at Zimbabwe by 90 % and at Malawi by 40%. 1992 was a drought year in the Southern Africa. The tobacco export revenues went into the debt servicing instead of the fight against starvation (p. 100, „The Globaliziation of Poverty and the New World Order“, Prof. Dr. Michel Chossudovsky).
For Niger, officially one of the poorest countries of the world, the IMF has, in 2004, prohibited the creation of food reserves. Amidst the famine at Niger, in which 3,6 million people have stood at the abyss, the IMF has even prohibited any free distribution of millet, in the name of preventing market distortions. And not only such distributions, which could have cost the state Niger money and could have reduced its debt servicing, but even the distribution of millet by the United Nations and by NGOs (Germanwatch interview with Prof. Dr. Jean Ziegler of the year 2005)
Niger is no individual case. Also Malawi and Ethiopia have been forced by the IMF to sell the public food reserves for a higher debt servicing, Ethiopia just before the famine of 1984/1985.
On Ethiopia, see p. 141 of the book „The Globaliziation of Poverty and the New World Order“ by Prof. Dr. Michel Chossudovsky and the Global Research article at the link: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=366
On Malawi, see the taz article „Der Hunger geht, die Armut bleibt“
At India in 1991, the removal of food and fertilizer subventions commanded by the IMF served together with the also commanded currency devaluation for the increase of the rice price by 50% (p. 150+153, „The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order“, Prof. Dr. Michel Chossudovsky, published 2003). At India, family farmers and farm workers are together 400 million people (p. 151). The removal of the fertilizer subvention, which had been explicitely demanded by the IMF (p. 151), led in 1991 to the increase of the fertilizer price by 40% and ruined many small agricultural enterprizes. The formal removal of the legal limit to landownership, imposed by IMF and World Bank (p. 154), has been a decisive incentive for the expulsion of familiy farmers by big landowners, who prefer producing for export than in comparison to producing food for the own population. As a result of the removal of the wages indexation, also enforced by IMF and World Bank, hundreds of millions of Indian people (among them particularly agricultural workers and smallholders) had to live on (convertedly) 50,- US cent per day while at the same time costs of living rising towards the world market, including a 50% increase of the rice price. Prof. Dr. Chossudovsky speaks , therefore, of „economic genocide“ (p. 154) by IMF and World Bank at India. The harsh accusation by Prof. Dr. Chossudovsky regarding India may cause wondering, because many other countries have got even more brutal and even more intentious conditions against their food supply, it is, however, justified, because at no other country of the world are so many starving people, and because IMF and World Bank and not wars, caste system, religious intolerance, gene technology or anything else have the main guilt for that.
At Bangla Desh, the IMF enforced, at the beginning of the 1980ies, the removal of the agricultural subven- tions, enforced the trade liberalization, and the deregulation of the grain market (p. 161, „The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order“, Prof. Dr. Michel Chossudovsky). For the destruction of the food supply by family farmers, finally the program „food for work“ has been used, where village inhabitants had to work solely for food. This been made possible by the trade liberalization enforced by the IMF. The economical ruin forced many farmers to a new start at areas, which were particularly endangered by floods. This is the explanation for 140.000 people killed by the flood at 1991 (p. 165) and 10 millionen homeless people because of the flood. Just in 1991, the IMF enforced a currency devaluation, which resulted in the increase of the rice price by 50%, and which tightened the flood-induced famine decisively. Far distributed undernourishment and a lack of vitamin A have already existed at Bangla Desh before the flood, and typical IMF conditions have a crucial share in the causes of this.
At Vietnam, farmers have been encouraged by the World Bank, to cultivate for export instead of food for the own population (p. 177 Chossudovsky). Because of the decline of the world market prices for the respective export commodities, Vietnam got into the situation, to subvention food exports, while the farmers of the country were starving as a result of the IMF typical curency devaluation including the increase of the prices for fuel and fertilizer connected to it. In 1994, a famine has taken place with 50.000 affected people, while in the same year, because of the collapse of public rice trade companies, two million tons of Vietnamese rice remained unsold (p. 178). In the years 1987 to 1990, 25% of the adults and 50% of the children at Vietnam were undernourished (p. 179). The enforced orientation to export has also led to the expulsion of family farmers by big landowners (p. 182).
The film „Raubzug des IWF in Argentinien“ of Kanal B of the year 2002 shows clearly the behaviour of the IMF at Argentina. The country has, until the beginning of the military dictatorship in the 1970ies, been one of the countries with the highest standard of living at Latin America and with a broad middle class. Argentina has received its first IMF loan already one week after the assumption of the military dictatorship in 1976. At the end of the dictatorship, the country had 30,- billon $ debts, half of which have been publid bailouts of private debts. From 1983 to 1989 always more public expenditures, because of the pressure by the IMF, have been reduced, from 1989 to 1992 all public enterprizes have been privatized. Since the Menem government, the cuts also in the social area became so strong, that the starvation begun, years after the end of the dictator- ship. According to the journalist Sebastian Hacher (Indymedia), in the year 2002 at Argentina, 100 children per day died of starvation; this means 36.500,- children died of starvation per year at that time at Argentina, a high number especially in comparison to a total number of 30.000,- people during murdered by the Argentinian military dictatorship. And the adult Argentinians, who have died of starvation because of the IMF, are not counted yet in this number. At demonstrator at the demonstration of the jobless people at the 11.03.2002 estimated the number of starving people at that time alone for the area Buenos Aires to circa 4,- million people.
In order to keep the control at Brazil even though the mass layoffs in the public sector and the removal of the public pension insurance in 1994 after the constitutional change, which had been enforced by the IMF for these purposes (p. 195 ff. „The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order“, Prof. Dr. Michel Chossudovsky), a part of the reduction of the expenditures has been used for food aid to the inhabitants of slums. In rural areas, there are, in addition to that, model projects, where landless people are gives exhausted agricultural areas (or can buy them with the help of World Bank loans), which seem not profitable enough for the big landowners. And the areas are given to the landless people, which are not in the land register, but are the property of Indigenous people, whereas in 1994 the constitutionally guaranteed property rights of the Indigenous people had been streaked according to the command of the IMF. Instead of paying for food for all, the IMF let it happen, that instead the state paid to big landowners for the employment of land workers, and that food aid supplies were also used for the targeted destructed of the food cultivation of family farmers (p. 195 and 201-202, „The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order“, Prof. Dr. Michel Chossudovsky).
The Brazilian “Fome Zero” (null hunger) program of President Lula da Silva, which wanted to free a seven digit number of Brazilians from starvation, but which has been realized in an only significantly reduced form, because the IMF has not granted a debt moratorium, which had been requested for the benefit of Brazil (Germanwatch interview with Prof. Dr. Jean Ziegler of the year 2005). http://www.germanwatch.org/zeitung/2005-4-ziegler.htm
At Peru, 83% of the inhabitants are undernourished because of the conditions (p. 31, „The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order“, Prof. Dr. Michel Chossudovsky). The country has been exposed several times to shocking IMF conditions. From 1980 – 1983, the undernourishment of children has risen dramati- cally, and from 1975 to 1985, the food consumption of the total population has shrinked by 25% (p. 209). The decline of the real wages from 1980 to 1985 has been at 45% (p. 209). Even significantly more drastically directed against the food supply have been the IMF conditions at August 1990, when the rapid combination of artifical currency devalution, limitation of the wages, and letting loose of the prices, resulted in the increase of the prices, in comparison to the wages, within one month, for fuel to the 31-fold, for bread to the 12-fold, and for food in the average by 446 %. The IMF enforced, in the name of the fight against the hyperinflation of August 1990, layoffs in the public sector, cuts social in the social system, and the reduction of wages (p.216). Since the hyperinflation with all its effects like the increase in price of fertilizer etc., has not been enough for the destruction of the family farming at Peru, the IMF simply enforced its prohibiton by means of a legal minimum size for a farm of at least 10 ha; and only with at least this minimum size, agri- cultural loans have been available (p. 221).
At Bolivia, the trade liberalization, enforced by IMF, together with aid shipments, served for a decline of the production costs between 1985 and 1988 by 25,9 % (p. 232, „The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order“, Prof. Dr. Michel Chossudovsky).
At Russia, the combination of artifical currency devaluation and of releasing the prices, both imposed by the IMF, served at 1992 for to a hundredfold increase of the prices, while, in the name of the fight against inflation, only a tenfold increase of the wages has been tolerated. The price of bread has risen operproportio- nally from between 17 and 18 kopeks to 20 rubles (p. 240, „The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order“, Prof. Dr. Michel Chossudovsky). The food supply sank below the level it had during World War II (p. 241). In 1993, the IMF, in addition to that, effected by the deregulation of a big Russian bread fabric, a further between tripling and quadrupling of the bread price (p. 249).
The family farmer food cultivation at Albania has been pushed back by a combination of trade liberalization, of food aid from subventioned grain surpluses, from currency devaluation (resulting in price increase of fertilizer and fuel, shrinking of the real wages etc.), and the destruction of the domestic seeds production (in order to make dependened on more expensive seeds).
(„The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order“, Prof. Dr. Michel Chossudovsky)
That these IMF conditions at the cost of the starving cannot be rare single cases, is shown by the official report of the 07.02.2001 (file number E/CN.4/2001/53) by Prof. Dr. Jean Ziegler, the then UN Special Rapporteur for the human right to food, according to which (see no.. 69c of the report) the credit conditions of IMF and World Bank are world-wide the second-biggest cause for the starvation in the world, even more than biotechnology in agriculture and than wars.
In 1990, world-wide 822 million people, in 2007 ca. 923 million people, and in 2008 ca. 963 million people have starved. At the 19.06.2009, already about a billion people were starving. http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welthunger
At 2004, enough food has been produced for 12 billion people (interview with Prof. Jean Ziegler in the edition 4/2005 of the Germanwatch newspaper). According to the then actual world food report, neverthe- less, in 2004, more than 100.000 people per day were starving of starvation or of the immediate effects of starvation; in the average of the year 2004, each 5 seconds a child below the age of 10 died of starvation. http://www.germanwatch.org/zeitung/2005-4-ziegler.htm
V.2 IMF conditions one of the main reasons for the rise of tuberculosis und further diseases
According to an article of Dr. F. William Engdahl, who is a member of the globalization research network „Global Research“, of the 27.11.2009, are among the most recent IMF conditions towards the Ukraine drastical cuts in the health sector, among them the closure of hospitals and layoffs in the health sector. The behaviour of the IMF towards the Ukraine is a proof, that the IMF even after the start of the economic crisis still acts in the same way, hostile against human rights. The Ukraine has been affected particularly hard by the economic crisis, by a speculative bubble and by a deep recession.
In this context, Dr. Engdahl reports on a study of the Cambridge University of the year 2008, which has statistically proven by 21 middle and eastern European countries, that states, which have been under IMF conditions, have had a significantly higher tuberculosis rate than states without IMF conditions.
The publication date 22.07.2008 of the study shows, that it has depicted a time before the current economic crisis.
According to Dr. Engdahl, the IMF is, in view of the drastical cuts in the health sector, als called „infant mortality fund“.
Dr. Engdahl explains, that particularly a significant increase of the tuberculosis deaths indicates a fast worsening medical supply, because tuberculosis is a disease with a fast course.
The Canadian economist Prof. Dr. Michel Chossudovsky, a colleague of Dr. Engdahl in the globalization research network Global Resarch, names on p. 62 and 63 of his work „The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order“ the dramatical decline of health-related control and prevention activities because of austerity conditions by IMF and World Bank as the reason of the comeback of cholera, yellow feaver, and malaria to the south of the Sahara, and the spread of malaria and dengue fever at Latin America, as well as the decline of the hygiene and of the public health institutions because of austerity conditions by IMF and World Bank as reasons for the comeback in 1994 of bubonic plague at India.
Prof. Dr. Chossudovsky’s work „The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order“ contains further number on the destruction of the health system by IMF conditions:
-The health expenditures at Somalia have been reduced by 78% between the 1970ies and 1989 because of IMF conditions (p. 97).
-The malaria rate at Ruanda has risen in 1991 under IMF conditions by 21% (p. 108). At Ruanda, the World Bank enforced moderating fees of the patients and mass layoffs in the health sector (p. 111).
-At Bangla Desh, in 1992 have been 1,50 $ per inhabitant and year have been spent for health, 25,- cent of it for medicaments. The creditors enforced further cuts in 1992 and 1993.
-On Vietnam have been imposed the payment for particular health services by the patients and the release of the prices of the medicaments (p. 185). As a result, the exependitures for medicaments have been reduced by 89% between 1980 and 1989, and 98,5% of the Vietnamese pharma industry has been destroyed. Ten thouands of health workers incl. doctors have got unemployed. Hospitals have been closed, because too few of the patients were able to pay on their own for the health services. In order to prevent the reconstruction of the health sector, the finances of the medical faculties have been massively cut (p. 186). According to the WHO, the number of malaria deaths threefolded, and already defeated diseases, such as tuberculosis, reappeared at Vietnam (p. 186).
-At Brazil, the health expenditures have been reduced by 50% in 1993 (p. 197).
-At Peru, the the austerity measures in the health sector including the closure of hospitals, the hyperinflation, the undernourishment, and the lack of funds for the cooking of water, favoured since August 1990 the spread of cholera (in 1991 with more than 200.000 ill people and over 2.000 deaths within 6 months) and the comeback of, i. a., malaria and dengue fever (p. 216).
-At Albania (p. 291), the enforced payments of the patients themselves and the mass layoffs in the health sector supported the outbreak of cholera (1995) and the polio epidemic (1996).
The behaviour of the IMF before the economic crisis and with the elevation of such inhumane condition to a rank of EU secondary law, gives a light taste on, how much the IMF or the Troika respectively the EU Commission would rage after the carde blanche enabling, which is wanted by art. 136 par. 3 TFEU – or how private creditors would rage in the framework of the Vienna initiative and of the state insolvency procedure of the ESM (part V.4 of this letter), which would also obligate the private creditors to impose on the debtor states conditions with a strictness according to the „practice“ of the IMF.
V.3 proof of the inhumanity of the „practice“ of the IMF at the example of the UNICEF study „Adjustment with a Human Face“
The UNICEF study „Adjustment with a Human Face“ (1987) depicts the effects of credit conditions of the IMF on poverty and need and develops proposals for more humane austerity measures.
The page numbers quoted refer to the German edition. As far as in this part of this text English quotations are in quotation signs, this is the non-authorized (as wordly as possible) translation from German into English by my husband (Volker Reusing, same address as Sarah Luzia Hassel-Reusing), which possibly is not exactly identical to the English original, because we have only the German version of the study.
UNICEF mentions in „Adjustment with a Human Face“ „reckless cuts of the state expenditures for health, which are often part of an adjustment program“, and which „lead to a worsening of the state of health of the population“ (p. 87). UNICEF mentions as example the „outbreak of deadly infectious diseases among children“ at the Brazilian province Sao Paulo because of the delayed introduction of a vaccination program against measels (p. 87+95); it seems to be the same measels epidemic, which also Prof. Dr. Jean Ziegler mentions in his work „Imperium der Schande“ (Bertelsmann publishing house). At Ghana, according to UNICEF, cutting the expenditures for medical basical supply has led to the increase of frequency, distribution, and deaths by infectious diseases (p. 87).
In 1984, IMF adjustment programs in the Brazilian province Sao Paulo led to a steep rise of the infant mortality (p. 95). This seems to be related to food, for according to UNICEF, the inflation from 1981 to 1983 at Brazil has been 400 %, but higher for food, because the IMF conditions have forced the country, to push back the cultivation for the favour of grain and sugar cane for export (p. 94).
„A radical reduction of the food subventions in favour of investment activities as a part of a new adjustment package have led in Sri Lanka“, according to UNICEF, „to an increase of undernourishment of third degree among the children of the poorest“ (p. 87).
UNICEF, in addition to that, quotes a study, according tho whom the child mortality at Chile has temporarily risen in 1983 by 10% because of the temporary cancellation of a public child food program, and which has decreased again after the reenactment of the program in 1984 (p. 87+88+97). According to another study, the undernourishment of the children of Chile at school age has risen from 1980 to 1983 from 4,6 % to 15,8 % , and from 1981 to 1984 also the frequency of typhus and hepatitis (p. 97). UNICEF, however, also applaudes to Chile for its free school meals, for its food programs for children until the age of 6 years, and for support programs for pregnant women and children up to the age of 8 years, who live in extreme poverty (p. 97). This means, that in other countries with IMF conditions, respective programs to limit the starvation of children have not been or been in a lesser amount (than in the Chile of Pinochet) available.
At Gambia, according to UNICEF, the undernourishment of children has risen in 1985 as a result of increased food prices (resulting from IMF conditions) without social mitigating measures (p. 88).
Ghana received IMF loans and structural adjustment conditions in 1983. UNICEF looks at the time form 1980 to 1985, so that only a part of the social effects are to be attributed to the IMF. Because of the collapse of the cacao prices, the per-capita income has already fallen by a third from 1974 to 1982. At 1982 (before the IMF), the whole available food at Ghana reached only 68% of the need of calories (p. 98). The child mortality has risen from 10% (1980) to 11% (1983) and 12% (1984). Between 1979 and 1984, the health expenditures per capita at Ghana have sunk by 80% (p. 98). There has been a mass exodus of qualified personnel of the social sectors. UNICEF applauds to the IMF only for the reduction of the inflation, which had been three-digit before, but its programs were primarily orientatied on the economical situation. The measures, which UNICEF recommended for Ghana (p. 99 +100), show, that the health system and the own food production have had virtually to be rebuild again. UNICEF demanded „food for work“ programs and speaks about a „big gap in the food supply“ (p. 100).
Jamaica received loans by the IMF at 1980 and at 1984, the one in 1984 with significantly tougher conditions. UNICEF has observed the years 1978 to 1985 (p. 101). While before 1984, a five person household could cover its nutrition with 75% of its income, at 1984 only 50% of the needed food could be bought from that income. And from October 1984 to March 1986, the price of the needed food basket has risen by 45 %. The prices of grain, flour, maize flour, and rice have risen even stronger. Public aid programs have reached only a part of the undernourished (p. 102). From 1981 to 1986, the health expenditures at Jamaica have been reduced by 33 %; fees have been introduced for the health services (p. 102). The percen- tage of children with visible signs of undernourishment has risen from 38% (1978) to 41% (1985). From 1978 to 1985, the number of gravely undernourished children admitted to hospital doubled, the number with diseases of stomach and bore tripled, whereas the strongest increase has taken place from 1983 to 1985.
Peru has been regarded by UNICEF for the years 1977 to 1985. The country received from 1977 to 1978 and
from 1982 to 1984 IMF loans.
Among the conditions have been the removal of any food subventions (p. 103 + 104). The average food supply per capita has fallen by 26% (p. 104). The tuberculosis rate has risen (an interesting parallel to the IMF induced rise of tuberculosis in the former eastern block countries during the 1990ies, part V.2 of this letter).
The Philippines received an IMF loan at 1984. A result was, that the tax financed subsidies for the elementary health supply has been reduced to a fifth of the amount to the respective subsidies to hospitals of the upper class. At 1985, the real wages have been at a fourth of the poverty line (estimated by the World Bank) of a six person household, in rural areas at only 22% (p. 106). The health expenditures have fallen from 1979 to 1984 by a third (p. 103). The number of underweight children under 5 years has grown from 17 % (1982) to 22 % (1985).
The UNICEF study emphasizes the „urgency of new solutions“, because the „current approach“ tends to cause poverty, and if one regards „the direct negative effects of some of the macroeconomic measures for the health and the nutrition of the poorest and particularly of the children“. According to UNICEF, the ignorance of the „needs of the poor“ is „not only ethically reprehensible, but also contraproduktive“ (p. 89).
V.4 „Vienna initiative“ older than anticipated and systematical abuse of power of the IMF at the favour of specific big banks
The Grenadian economist Davison Budhoo, who had served, i. a., as „resident representative“ of the IMF for Guayana, cancelled his job at the IMF at the 18.05.1988 with an open letter, which has been published in the form of a book by New Horizons Press. As a complete version is available to me only the German translation, published by the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung in 1991 „Genug ist genug“. You find a part of the English text in the internet at
As far as in this part of this text English quotations are in quotation signs, this is the non-authorized (as wordly as possible) translation from German into English by my husband (Volker Reusing, same address as Sarah Luzia Hassel-Reusing), which possibly is not exactly identical to the English original, because we have only the complete German version.
In 1986 and 1987, the IMF has already given the possibility to particular private banks, as a reward for their willingness to give loans of 16 billion $, to impose on states „their own macroeconomic conditionality“ (p. 130), „whose logical consequence has been the annihilation of even more third world children, after already because of our judgement and that of the World Bank, which we ourselves had written, millions had been killed or chosen for death.“
For significantly smaller loans than those of the IMF itself, the IMF enabled private banks without any legal basis, to add to the conditions created by the IMF their own particular-interest-like and in no way less human-rights-ignoring conditions, which then have also been put through by the IMF.
Already in the time from 1983 to 1986 there have been, according to Budhoo, 27 cases, in which the IMF has included particular private banks, and in only one case these banks have been willing, to accept the credit conditions, which had already been negotiated between the IMF and the respective state, in the other 26 cases they insisted on adding their own political conditions (p. 131+132). So the IMF granted to banks already from 1983 to 1986 in at least 27 cases the power to reject „commitments concluded between the IMF and its member states in the third world, if these commitments, from the point of view of these banks, did not protect their own interests in a way, like they should be protected“ (p. 132). Unfortunately, Budhoo does not say, if for this surprisingly high number of 27 states, which the IMF has subjugated also under completely unlegitimated banks, these bank had at all (as the 16 billion $ in 1986 and 1987) to give from themselves new loans to the respective countries . This way, banks could straightly put through conditions, they could „care after their own number one“ (p. 132). For the accumulation of interests of private banks in view of the IMF, as a result, i. a. the International Institute of Finance and the Japan Centre for International Finance have been founded (p. 132). The IMF even sends, by order of banks, within the scope of the „enhanced surveillance“ commitment, delegations to the debtor countries in the South (p. 132).
So it is depicted, that already the obligation to a strictness according to the „practice“ of the IMF means the informal contribution by the private creditors of conditions for the Troika or the EU Commission within the mechanisms connected to art. 136 par. 3 TFEU.
The term „Vienna initiative“ for the enforcement of political conditions, which have been formulated by big private banks, has come into existence not before the beginning of this century, when the IMF has done this for Austrian banks against Eastern European states.
V.5 strictness of the „practice“ of the IMF at the service of big banks
The book „Die Chancen der Globalisierung“ (Pantheon publishing house) by Joseph Stiglitz, a former chief economist and former vice-chairman of the World Bank, exposes that also the IMF has served more for banks in their quality as creditors of the states, than for its official task, for which the IMF had been created, namely to help states, which are experiencing a lack of liquidity, with loans.
As far as in this part of this text English quotations are in quotation signs, this is the non-authorized (as wordly as possible) translation from German into English by my husband (Volker Reusing, same address as Sarah Luzia Hassel-Reusing), which possibly is not exactly identical to the English original, because we have only the complete German version.
At page 272, he says:
„At crises, the IMF granted to debtor countries, which were unable to pay, loans within the frame of a so- called bail-out – but the money did, in the end, not benefit the country, but the Western creditor banks, whose claims have been covered with it. At Eastern Asia as well as at Latin America, these supportive loans have served the purpose to pay foreign creditors, who were released of the necessity to carry the costs of the loss of their claims from the loans the had given carelessly. In some cases, governments have eben bailed out private debts and have this way, in fact, socialized private risks. They have helped the creditors out of their unconfortable situation, but the money of the IMF has not been a gigt, but only a further credit- and the developing country had to pay for it. In fact, the tax payers of the poor country paid for the unreliable policy of the rich countries regarding giving credits.“
The parallel to Greece and to the recapitalization of banks from tax payer money within the scope of EFSF and ESM is obvious.
On page 58, Stiglitz says in a chapter on the Asia crisis:
„Critiques of the IMF claim, that its conditions serve, in principle, not the aim to protect countries against recession, but to protect the interests of its creditors. Behind this stands the purpose, to refill the foreign exchange reserves as soon as possible, in order to be able to fulfill the claims of the creditors.“
Stiglitz shows the extent of the one-sided-ness of the IMF for the benefit of the creditors at the example of Ethiopia, where the IMF has, for the question, whether the budget was balanced, not counted the foreign aid as revenue (p. 66). As a result, the Ethiopian government did not dare to use the foreign aid for the purposes it had been given for, but added it to the country’s foreign exchange reserves, thus alienating these aids from their purpose, so that the possibility was left open, to use these funds later for the payment to the creditors of the country.
At page 279, Stiglitz shows at the example of Argentina, that this country had to choose in its acute debt crisis, if it took new IMF loans, just in order to pay back old IMF loans. The money would just have been transferred from one IMF banking account to another IMF banking account.Argentina, however, would have got additional condition for this by the IMF, which would have further aggravated the recession. Argentina at that time really managed to get a partly debt cut by the IMF, and to reject any new IMF conditions, in turn for paying back the rest of the debts, the country had to the IMF. The IMF had already forced Argentina before to privatize its public pension insurance and to increase the prices for water and electricity (p. 278). Argentina has made the experience, that the IMF intentiously delayed the state bankruptcy of the country, in order to be able to put through before as much conditions as possible (p. 281):
„When Argentina admitted to a particular condition, the IMF posed new conditions, in order to prolong the agony of Argentina, and to make the default of the debt servicing as expensive as possible.“
Stiglitz shows the one-sided-ness of the IMF also on p. 279-280:
„A former IMF employee explained, that his institution just represents the interests of the creditors (of whom the IMF has been the biggest), and these were oriented to create fear of a state bankruptcy. The IMF wanted, that every sovereign country, which considers declaring its default, thinks for a long time and intensively, before it takes this step. No court can force a sovereign country to fulfill its debt service; normally, there are no or only few assets, which can be confiscated (in contrast to private insolvencies, where the creditors can liquidate an enterprize or objects given to them as securities). Only fear has driven them to the debt service; without fear, loans would not be payed off, the bond market for the debts of states would simply dry out.“
The fear of getting separated from the capital market is, according to Stiglitz, shown particularly drastically at Moldova, where 3⁄4 of the state budget go into the debt servicing (p. 281).
At Botswana, the IMF put through the increase of the interest rate in the private economy to 60%. See German translation of an interview of Emperor’s Clothes with Prof. Dr. Michel Chossudovsky: http://notgroschen.blogspot.com/2012/01/internationaler-wahrungsfonds-iwf-und.html
The most extreme example of one-sided-ness of the IMF on the side of the creditors, happened in 1992 at Brazil, where the IMF insisted, that the government first had to reach an agreement with the big private creditors, before an IMF loan came into consideration – that’s what via art. 12 ESM Treaty (part V.4 of this letter) is going to be entrenched for the first time in the primary law of an international organization. That had the result at Brazil, that the government consented to an increase of the interest rate towards its biggest private creditors from 30% to 50% (p. 192 and foot note 2, „The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order“, Prof. Dr. Michel Chossudovsky).
In 1999, the IMF enforced, in connection to a „preventive“ credit, the increase of the Brazilian base rate to 39%, what led to interest rates for the Brazilian private economy between 50% and 90% and for private credits between 150% and 250%. And Brazil has been ordered by the IMF, to use the currency reserves of its central bank to defend the Brazilian currency against speculators, who tried next after the Asia crisis, to speculate down the Brazilian currency. This way, the reserves of the central bank shrinked from July 1998 to January 1999 from 75,- billion $ to 27,- billion $ (p. 349+350, „The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order“, Prof. Dr. Michel Chossudovsky).
Prof. Stiglitz mentions Russia as a positive example, which has got again access to loans on the financial market only 2 years after its default, which the country has managed in 1998 in a sovereignty respecting way (p. 282), because financial markets evaluate future risks and less the behaviour to the creditors in the past. For this purpose, it is important, that the debt reduction is high enough, to give new creditors confidence in the ability of the country to pay off future debts.
In the Asia crisis, the IMF has received direct counselling by some banke regarding the credit conditions on the states, which the IMF gave loans at that time (p. 325, „The Globaliziation of Poverty and the New World Order“, Prof. Dr. Michel Chossudovsky“). Among them were, according to Prof. Dr. Chossudovsky, i. a., Chase, Bank America, City Group, J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, Morgan Stanley, and Salomon Smith Barney, independently from the question, which of these banks might have contributed to the Asia crisis by means of currency speculations.
In 1998, the IMF forced several Asian countries, among them Indonesia, to loosen their restrictions on caprial movements including making easier the speculation with currencies. And at the same time, the IMF forced them to use large amounts of their national currency reserves for the purchase of their own currency with the aim to prevent the devaluating speculation of the domestic currency, while at least the waste of the currency reserves for the support of the currency exchange rate had been recommended to the IMF before by the international private bank association IIF (p. 325+326, „The Globaliziation of Poverty and the New World Order“, Prof. Dr. Michel Chossudovsky“).
In 1998, there has even been an initiative of some world’s biggest private banks, in order to give their influencing and their insider businesses with the IMF a legal appearance. In a „Private Sector Advisory Council“, which was going to be filled with private banks, they want to surveil the correctness of the work of the IMF, and they would have harvested at that opportunity insider knowledge to an unprecedented extent (p. 326, „The Globaliziation of Poverty and the New World Order“, Prof. Dr. Michel Chossudovsky“).
At South Korea, the issuing bank has been restructured under direct control by IMF and Wall Street banks (p. 328, „The Globaliziation of Poverty and the New World Order“, Prof. Dr. Michel Chossudovsky“).
VI. further considerations regarding the subjective part
VI.1 mögliche Spuren anhand der Entstehungsgeschichte des Art. 136 Abs. 3 AEUV
The history of the creating of art. 136 par. 3 TFEU is of crucial relevance not only objectively for the proof of the systematical nature and of the large scope, but also for the subjective part for the investigation of the question, which persons are responsible for the attempt to orientate the EU law and the states of the eurozone to such an extent to the safeguarding of banks, while pretendingly referring to an alleged „safeguarding of the euro“, and to even obligate that to a strictness according to the „practice“ of the IMF.
The „Eurogroup“ is a body, in which the economic and financial ministers of those EU member states, whose currency is the euro, can discuss confidentially with exclusion of the public questions, on which they decide later in the EU Council of Ministers. Sometimes, the results of the „Eurogroup“ are published, as it has been after the session of the 28.11.2010. According to the explanation of the „Eurogroup“ of the 28.11.2010, Herman van Rompuy (President of the European Council) should present the draft of art. 136 par. 3 TFEU at the following summit of the European Council (EU body of the Prime Ministers of the EU member states). As a result, the Prime Ministers concluded at the summit of the European Council at the 16./17.12.2010, to initiate art. 136 par. 3 TFEU. It seems, that Herman van Rompuy has earlier and better informed than most or even than all of the Prime Ministers and financial ministers of the countries of the eurozone, who has drafted art. 136 par. 3 TFEU for which objectives.
link to the declaration of the Eurogroup of the 28.11.2010
link to the conclusions of the summit 16./17.12.2010 of the European Council and draft + considerations of art. 136 par. 3 TFEU
EU regional commissioner Johannes Hahn had commissioned the Austrian economic research institute WIFO with a study, which has been published by the WIFO institute in May 2010 under the name „Funktionsfähigkeit und Stabilität des Euro-Raumes“. http://karl.aiginger.wifo.ac.at/fileadmin/files_aiginger/publications/2010/eurostabilitaet.pdf
The study says on art. 136 par. 3 TFEU (these sentences authorized translated from German into English by the husband of Sarah Luzia Hassel-Reusing):
„So the Commission is working on proposals for the gradual realization of a kind of ‘economic government’, by which the economic policy of the community can be better coordinated. The basis for this will deliver the new prescriptions of art. 136 TFEU. There, measures are planned for the members of the eurozone, in order to ‘strengthen the coordination and the surveillance of their budgetary discipline’. This shall allow crisis interventions, but they should be as unattractive as possible.“
The WIFO expert opinion proves, that art. 136 par. 3 TFEU has already been discussed before May 2010 as the legal basis in EU primary law for the European financing mechanism (Greece support, EFSM, EFSF, and ESM) and for the enabling of the EU Commission as the EU economic government (via tightened Stability and Growth Pact, Imbalance Procedure, and Budgetary Surveillance), and that there even had already been at that time concrete deliberations regarding the wording for art. 136 par. 3 TFEU. The same WIFO expert opinion also includes the proposals, most of which have been used by the EU Commission for the drafts in September 2010 of the EU regulations for the tightening of the Stability and Growth Pact and for the intro- duction of the Imbalance Procedure.
The EU regional commissioner as well as the WIFO expert seem to be important witnesses of the history of the creating of art. 136 par. 3 TFEU. Also of significant importance seems to be, when the expert opinion has been commissioned. In addition to that, significant further findings on this might be delivered by inter- viewing the the President of the EU Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso.
VI.2 responsibility for the systematical extent of the strictness
The suspected objective part regarding art. 7 par. 1 lit. k Roman Statute refers to the fact, that the interven- tions of the conditions into nutrition and into health are too deep, have lost any human bounds.
So it is crucial to investigate, who is responsible for the fact, that the economic and financial ministers (Ecofin) in the EU Council of Ministers have, at the 10.05.2010, demanded a strictness as in the „practice“ of the IMF, whereas most of them probably have not been aware of the scope of this statement (part III.2 of this letter).
Apart from that, the investigation of the question is crucial, who is responsible for that in no. 49 of the report of the „Task Force“ (part III.2 of this letter) of the 21.10.2010 even „very“ strict conditions are demanded, and the clarification, how „very strict“ has been meant at that time regarding areas like food and health, which are relevant for art. 7 par. 1 lit. k Roman Statute.
VI.3 concrete procedure of the creation of the conditions to Greece
Greece has received financial assistance for paying its existing creditors since 2010 via the „Greek support“ and after that via the EFSF. The conditions, which have led to the humanitarian catastrophe in the Greek health sector, come, as explained in part III.1 of this letter, from February 2012, and they have been made within the frame of the EFSF. Like also in the other mechanisms of the European financing mechanism, the draft of the conditions has been introduced in the frame of the „Troika“ by the EU Commission, supported by the IMF and the ECB. So it makes sense, to interview not only IMF and EU Commission, which are involved anyway in this procedure because of the charges against Mrs. Lagarde and Mr. Barroso, but also the responsible representatives of the ECB.
Since, as shown in part III.5, already at 2009 many Greeks have lived below the poverty line, one can presume, that the starvation at Greece has not only been aggravated by the EFSF, but also by the „Greek support“ Regarding the conditions, which led to hunger, the interviews should also contain interviewing the ECB, the EU Commission, and the IMF, also regarding the „Greece“ support.
The decision on the conditions takes place in the frame of the „Greece support“ by the financial ministers of the member states, and in the EFSF by the financial undersecretaries (the highest financial officers at the national level) in the European body of the financial undersecretaries with the name „Eurogroup Working Group“. For Germany, Dr. Jörg Asmussen has been financial undersecratary until the end of 2011; he has also, in the past, worked for Goldman Sachs und could therefore interesting for an interview.
VI.4 CDS bets as a further possible motive
With credit default swaps (CDS), banks bet, that a particular claim will not be lost. Creditors often use these CDS in the way, that they bet, that their own claims get lost. If they lose their claim, the at least win their bet instead and then get the money for the won bet. That’s why CDS often are also regarded as credit insurances. But they are rather speculative financial products, because one can with them also bet on the loss of claims of other creditors. According to the Financial Times Deutschland article „Die Angst der Amerikaner“ of the 03.11.2011, the volume of CDS for state bonds has been for Italy 218,8 billon €, for Spain 121,1 billion €, for Greece 100,- billion €, for Germany 84,1 billion €, for Portugal 48,7 billion €, and for the USA 21,8 billion €.
These numbers, however, become relative for the banks insofar, as they themselves also emit CDS, they are themselves big creditors of the states, and they secure their own claims on states also with CDS of other banks.The balance of these claims (according to Financial Times Deutschland) on Italy and of the CDS emitted by banks for the securing of these claims is 15,- billion €. That, however, still says nothing about the distribution of the numbers among the banks.
The five biggest US banks (Bank of America, Citibank, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, and Morgan Stanley, here neutrally in alphabetical order) alone sell, according to Financial Times Deutschland, allein 97 % of all CDS traded in the USA.
Since banks have, as a result, their significant own interests as creditors of the states and as emittors of CDS, the real role of such bankers, who have a strong counselling influence on policy and on the EU institutions in connection to the financial crisis, be most closely regarded, especially if and which incluence their counselling may have had on the conditions, which have led to the humanitarian crisis at Greece.
VI.5 direct influence by bank lobbyists on Prime Ministers and financial ministers
According to the taz article „Die Rettung ist nah“ of the 22.07.2011, Josef Ackermann (former chairman of the board of directors of Deutsche Bank) and Baudouin Prot (BNP Paribas) have, in their quality as official cousellor of the German respectively the France government, for the first time participated in the summit of the 21.07.2011.
Josef Ackermann has not only been chairman of the board of directors of Deutsche Bank, he is also active for the international private bank association IIF (International Institute of Finance) and for the preparation committee of the Bilderberg network.
This suggests, that particularly for her political actions, external counselling plays a big role, and Mr. Ackermann is possibly not the only one with influence on her actions in the financial crisis.
Dr. Jörg Asmussen has, in former times, been working for Goldman Sachs. Already before the assumption of office of the current German federal finance minister Dr. Wolfgang Schäuble, Dr. Asmussen has been under- secretary of finance, also already at the time, when under the then German federal financial minister Peer Steinbrück the German bank safeguarding institution Soffin with funds of up to 480,- billion € has been created. Until the end of 2011, he represented Germany in the „Eurogroup Working Group“, the EU body, which decides on the conditions of the EFSF. Since the 01.01.2012, he is member of the board of the ECB instead.
In my quality as a German, it is important to me that, as a matter of fairness, also the question is investigated, how much of the responsibility, which the Greeks, who have filed the charge, attribute to the German Chancellor and to the German federal minister of finance, possibly is to be attributed directly to particular banks.
VI.6 the particular influence of Goldman Sachs
The political power of Goldman Sachs in Europe relies to a significant degree in the positioning of its own former or even current employees at leading political positions. In addition to that, Goldman Sachs, as e. g. also the Deutsche Bank, belongs to the bank represented in the Bilderberg network.
The powerful role of Goldman Sachs within Bilderberg is also documentated by the long-standing member- ship of Goldman Sachs counsellor Mario Monti in the steering committee of Bilderberg. He is member of this committee today and has already been member of it at the Bilderberg coonference 1989, on which the question has been discussed in the network, if at that time only the euro or even already a „souvereign Europe“ should be created.
According to the article of the Deutsche Mittelstandsnachrichten „Italien: Monti ist im Nebenjob Berater bei Goldman Sachs“ of the 14.11.2011 the (not elected by the people) Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti is, according to the annual report of this big bank, member of the „international advisory committee“ of this bank. According to the same article, it has also been Goldman Sachs, who have counselled Greece, when Greece has achieved the accession to the euro by incorrect pieces of information towards Eurostat. In addition to that, ECB President Mario Draghi has been, in the years 2002 to 2005 vice president of Goldman Sachs. Also the former US finance minister Hank Paulson seems to have connections to Goldman Sachs, because he has able to sell his shares of this bank early enough before the crisis for 500 million $, before the share price has made inroads. The same Mr. Paulson has been the US finance minister, when the 700,- billion $ bailout has been concluded; of the 700,- billion $, however, Goldman Sachs itself seems to have gained, according to the Deutsche Mittelstandsnachrichten, only with 13,- billion $.
And even though all this Goldman Sachs is counselling „the European governments and the EU regarding the management of the debt crisis“, thus seems to play an even more central role in orchestrating the bank safeguarding in the name of the safeguarding of the euro than the Deutsche Bank. http://www.deutsche-mittelstands-nachrichten.de/2011/11/11670
The importance of the control over the ECB and over the Italian government is also shown in the article „Goldman: ‘Neuwahlen in Italien sind das Schlimmste!’ “ of the Deutsche Mittelstandsnachrichten of the 09.11.2011. According to the article, Goldman Sachs has lobbyied for a technocrat government and for new elections not before January, better spring 2012 – successful, meanwhile His Excellency, Mr. Mario Monti, governs Italiy. And Goldman Sachs really ask the ECB to to carry on buying in big style Italian bonds; a crucial piece of evidence, that Goldman Sachs also seems to be involved in bets regarding an Italian state bankruptcy.
As the article „Goldman Sachs empfiehlt Wetten gegen Europa“ of the Deutsche Mittelstandsnachrichten of the 15.11.2011 shows, this bank meanwhile offers credit default swaps, with which one can speculate against banks and insurance companies, at whom risks of the loss of credit claims are assumed. In addition to that, Goldman Sachs strategist Alan Brazil recommends to speculate against the euro, because the euro is signifi- cantly weakened, if further rescue packages are made. The article also says, that Goldman Sachs counsels „many European governments“ regarding the debt crisis. Just in the weak before the 15.11.2011, Goldman Sachs has, at a meeting with the Spanish economic minister Jose Manuel Campa and with creditor banks, presented concrete „proposals“ „for further austerity measures at Spain“. This shows at the same time the elevated power position in comparison to other creditor banks. http://www.deutsche-mittelstands-nachrichten.de/2011/09/24129/
That the Italian Prime Minister, His Excellency, Mario Monti, means, that particularly Goldman Sachs governs Italy, is also shown by the article „Italien – die Monti-Euphorie ist bereits vorbei“ of Alles Schall und Rauch of the 17.11.2011. According to the article, already thousands of Italians are protesting against the „government of the banker“ and shout sentences like „We do not want a government of the banks“ or „Monti makes beggars of us all.“ Alles Schall und Rauch prognosticates that, His Ecellency, Mr. Monti does not only want to „fulfill the promises to the EU and drastical austerity measures, but also to rigorously push forward the privatization, and to drastically restrict the use of cash in the every day payments transactions. What the Greeks already experience, now will approach the Italians, wages down, taxes up, with the impoverishment of the society, resulting from that.“ http://alles-schallundrauch.blogspot.com/2011/11/italien-die-monti-euphorie-ist-bereits.html#ixzz1e0APyoln
Goldman Sachs also earns as „Betreuerbank“ of the EFSF, while the EFSF does not say, how much these „Betreuerbanken“ finally earn at the cost of the tax payers for their service to the EFSF (article „Wie Goldman Sachs am EFSF mitverdient“ of the Deutsche Mittelstandsnachrichten vom 06.10.2011) http://www.deutsche-mittelstands-nachrichten.de/2011/710/27148/
Meanwhile, Dr. Jörg Asmussen is a counsellor of the SPD chancellor candidate Peer Steinbrück
The actual decisive influence of Goldman Sachs on the ECB and on the Italian government, and for a long time, on the German government, as well as the significant influence of Goldman Sachs in the steering committee of the Bilderberg network, combined with significant own interests as a creditor of states and especially as a tenderer of CDS, make urgently necessary an investigation, if and, if yes, in how far this bank has influenced the behaviour of Germany, of Italy, and particularly of the ECB regarding the conditions on Greece and regarding the creation of the European financing mechanism.
At least the gentlemen Mario Draghi, (His Excellency) Mario Monti, and Dr. Jörg Asmussen should be interviewed on this.
VI.7 the role of the Bilderberg network
The Bilderberg network is named after a hotel in the Netherlands, where in the 1950ies, it has had its first meeting. At the annual Bilderberg meeting under exclusion of the public, representatives of big banks, insurance companies, industrial and media corporations have the opportunity to impress their interests on politicians. Only the items of the agenda and the guest lists are published. Regarding closer contents and results of the meetings, silence is yet remaining.
The political power, which Bilderberg makes feasible for banks, relies in first line on the possibility, that the media embedded with Bilderberg can give their attention to politicians and put bank-friendly issues on the media agenda, and they can do censorship against issues and politicians, which / who are unconfortable for banks.
The politicians, who are newly invited as guests are most often, such politicians, whose career goes up after their visit to Bilderberg. Giorgos Papandreou has been at the Bilderberg conference 2009 at Greece and has been elected as Greek Prime Minister only months after. Peer Steinbrück, who had already been minister of finance until 2009, when the German bank safeguarding umbrella Soffin has been concluded, has been at the Bilderberg conference 2011 at Switzerland and now is chancellor candidate of the second-biggest German party Socialdemocratical Party of Germany.
The official guest lists of the three most recent Bilderberg meetings are at the following link:
One of the links with all guest lists of the hitherto Bilderberg meetings is:
According to the article „Where the influential people meet and talk“ of the economic magazine „The Economist“ of the 20.01.2011, Etienne Davignon, a former Vice President of the EU Commission, has been that chairman of the Bilderberg group at the time of that article. And Josef Ackermann (former chairman of the board of directors of the Deutsche Bank and officially most important external counsellor of the German Chancellor regarding the financial crisis) is in the preparatory committee of the Bilderbergers. By the membership in the preparatory committee exists, in additio to that, a crucial influence on who is allowed to participate at the respective following Bilderberg meating. And as Mr. Davignon himself admits to The Economist, the Bilderberg meeting 2010 at Spain has dealt with the financial problems of Europe and with the question, if the currency euro would survive.
The Economist article is at the link
The Bilderberg conference 09.-12. 06.2011 at Switzerland has taken place short time before the election of the current IMF CEO Christine Lagarde. The first two items of the Bilderberg meeting agenda 2011 „Innovation and Budgetary Discipline“ and „the Euro and Challenges for the European Union“ suggest the assumption, that art. 136 par. 3 TFEU and the mechanisms, that one wanted respectively wants to base on that article, have been discussed there in the sense of a briefing for the session of the Ecofin Council at the 20.06.2011 and for the summit the European Council at the 23./24.06.2011.
The Bilderberg meeting agenda 2011 is here:
Also the participants of the Bilderberg conference 2011 show, that there must have taken place a preliminary discussion, undemocratical and intransparent because of the exclusion of the public, for the behaviour at the summit of the European Council at the 23.+24.06.2011, that the decision of the European Council, also the decision on the ESM Treaty, must have been partly preshaped at the Bilderberg conference 2011. http://www.bilderbergmeetings.org/participants_2011.html
Herman van Rompuy, as the President of the European Council, the man with the biggest power over the agenda and the publications of the European Council, has been there, supported by Frans van Daele, the head of the personnel department of the European Council. Also the then ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet has been at the meeting. The connection to the EU Commission has been secured by Etienne Davignon (the then chairman of the Bilderbergers), Joaquin Almunia (Vice President of the EU Commission), and Neelie Kroes
(Vice President of the EU Commission). Also Pascal Lamy (general director of the WTO) and Robert Zoellick (president of the World Bank) have been there. Of the financial ministers of that time, George Papaconstantinou (Greece), George Osborne (Great Britain), and Giulio Tremonti (Italy) have participated. Of particular importance of the banking sector has been Josef Ackermann as participant of the preparatory committee, but also the chairmen of the national banks of Canada and of Belgium, a former chairman of the US issuing bank Federal Reserve, and representatives of further big private banks like, e. g., Goldman Sachs and Chase Manhatten Bank, have been there.
Since Herman van Rompuy has brought the draft of art. 136 par. 3 TFEU at 16./17.12.2010 into the European Council, it needs to be investigated urgently, if and in how far the corporations, which are involved with Bilderberg, have participated in creating the draft.
How undemocratical the European financial mechanism is, now also is depicted by the democracy index 2011 of the economical magazine „The Economist“. Even though this economical magazine participates at Bilderberg, the results of the European financing mechanism and of the „Greece support“ are criticized in clear words on p. 20:
„The main reason for the decline in democracy scores in 2011 in the region has been the erosion in sovereignty and democratic accountability associated with the effects of and responses to the euro zone crisis (five of seven countries that have experienced a decline in their scores–Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Ireland). Most dramatically, in two countries (Greece and Italy) democratically elected politicians have been replaced by technocrats at the head of governments. Six euro zone governments collapsed in 2011 and there have been growing public protests and a proliferation of new political parties and movements. Policy in some countries is no longer being set by national legislatures and elected politicians, but is effectively set by official creditors, the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the IMF. The severity of austerity measures has tended to weaken social cohesion and diminish furth trust in public institutions, which had already been declining since the 2008-09 economic crisis.“ http://www.vedomosti.ru/cgi-bin/vedomosti_15-12-2011.pdf?file=2011/12/15/0_1951216671
Sarah Luzia Hassel-Reusing
-FTD article „Die Angst der Amerikaner“ (in German, only on paper) –proof of the German citizenship (photocopy, only on paper)
-article „IFD-Leak – die Steinbruck – Goldman – Connection“ (in German) -EU regulation 2011/0276 (COD) (only on CD)
-EU regulation 2011/385 (COD)
-EU regulation 2011/0386 (COD)
-ECJ judgement on C-203/03
-law on the modification of the BSchuWG (file number 17/9049) -statement on the euro summit 09.12.2011
-EFSF memorandum of understanding on Greece, February 2012 (file number 17/8731) (only on CD) (in English and German)
-initiation Art. 136 (3) TFEU + conclusions summit of the European Council 16./17.12.2010
-Bilderberg guest lists 2011, 2010, and 2009
-conclusions summit of the European Council 24./25.03.2011 -conclusions summit of the European Council 23./24.06.2011 -WIFO study (in German)
-Davison Budhoo’s resignation from the IMF (only on CD) (in German)
I. the connection between the Roman Statute and the universal human rights
II. On the definition of a crime against humanity
III. The systematical attack on the health at Greece
III.1 how the conditions against Greece systematically destroy the Greek health system III.2 the humanitarian catastrophe in the Greek health system
III.3 human rights expert criticizes Greek austerity measures III.4 the attack on the nutrition at Greece
III.5 drastical cuts at Portugal and Spain and hunger at Spain III.6 further destruction of the health sector at Romania
IV. proof of the systematical nature of the attack by means of the „little treaty change“ (art. 136 par. 3 TFEU) IV.1 safeguarding the financial sector as the real cause of the excessive strictness
IV.2 the obligation to the „strictness“ as the system of inhumanity
IV.3 the Budgetary Surveillance and the instrumentalization of EU funds
IV.4 political power partly in the hands of the private creditors via the state insolvency procedure of the ESM IV.5 how art. 136 par. 3 TFEU threatens to oust the universal law
IV.6 how art. 136 par. 3 TFEU would lay the axe on the EU itself
V. examples for the strictness of the „practice“ of the IMF, reaching on to art. 7 par. 1 lit. k Roman Statute V.1 prognosticable conditions against the food supply
V.2 IMF conditions one of the main reasons for the rise of tuberculosis und further diseases
V.3 proof of the inhumanity of the „practice“ of the IMF at the example of the UNICEF study „Adjustment with a Human Face“
V.4 „Vienna initiative“ older than anticipated and systematical abuse of power of the IMF at the favour of specific big banks
V.5 strictness of the „practice“ of the IMF at the service of big banks
VI. further considerations regarding the subjective part
VI.1 possible tracks according along the history of the creating of art. 136 par. 3 TFEU
VI.2 responsibility for the systematical extent of the strictness
VI.3 concrete procedure of the creation of the conditions to Greece
VI.4 CDS bets as a further possible motive
VI.5 direct influence by bank lobbyists on Prime Ministers and financial ministers
VI.6 the particular influence of Goldman Sachs
VI.7 the role of the Bilderberg network
Violation of the Democratic Rules in the Greek Parliament!
Letter from SYRIZA MEP Nikolaos Chountis
very briefly I would like to inform you on the situation in Greece today, mostly concerning the undemocratic conduct of the governmental coalition.
Today it is brought to vote in the plenary, as a unique article, the whole « package » agreed between the greek government and the Troika concerning the measures that have to be taken (budget and social cuts, sell out of public services, including energy, water and land, priority on repaying the debt at all costs etc).
This « unique article », of almost 300 very technical pages, has been given to the Members of the Parliament the day before yesterday and, through a « fast track » procedure, it has been discussed and voted yesterday in the economic committee and today it is put in vote in plenary. Obviously, this procedure violates any democratic notion of really studying and knowing what the MPs are voting for. However, as the governmental coalition claims, if it is not voted in urgency the greek state will be lead immediately to an uncontrolled bankruptcy.
But, in this unique article, it is also included two Amendments (concerning the pension rights of journalists and engineers) that where rejected in the plenary vote of last week. Despite the fact that MPs of the parties in government had also voted them down just five days ago, those two amendments will now be adopted as they are included in the unique article.
During the procedure today, the opposition raised an objection on the grounds of violation of the National Constitutions by various points of the unique article. According to the Rules of Procedure, the MPs voted by raising their hands and, by those present there, the objection was accepted. However, the Chairman (MP of the government party of Nea Dimokratia) doubted the result and called for a roll-call vote, a demand that was accepted by the opposition. But, as it was clear that the presence of governmental MPs in the room was not enough, the Chairman interrupted the whole procedure calling for a 30 minutes break before conducting the ongoing vote. The break, that was made against the will of the opposition and against the Rules of Procedure, lasted far more than 30 minuets and was aimed in order to force all those MPs that were absent to get back in the plenary and, of course, vote against the unconstitutionality of the specific points of the unique article.
The vote has just started a while ago. The plenary is full of the MPs that were not there before…
It is obvious that this coalition government has lost any sense of obligation to follow people’s will and interests a long time ago but, the last days, they have broke even the last limits of appearing to follow the basic democratic rules. And it is so more important if we take into consideration the nature of the measures that they are adopting, measures that not only will aggravate the austerity and the recession but will permit to give away all the public services, all the institutions of common good, the land, the water and the resources of the State taking away any social, labour and environmental rights.
The people of Greece have been in strike and demonstrating since yesterday, continuing today with various actions, including a call of surrounding the Parliament Building today at 17:00.
The situation is very critical and, as the knowledge of the situation is important in order to achieve solidarity, I took the liberty to inform you and to ask you to inform the citizens of your countries and to act in solidarity.
We cannot allow them to violate our rights anymore! We have to continue our struggles together, all around Europe!
UPDATE FROM ATHENS GREECE (8/11/12)
Last night, and after a completely anti-constitutional «express process» that lasted for less than 24 hours, the Greek Parliament voted for the new austerity measures prescribed in the 800 pages (!) of the 3rd Memorandum (cuts of 13,5 billion Euro).
The second day of the 48-hour general strike of the trade-unions reached its momentum today, after 17.00 local time, when more than 100.000 demonstrators gathered on
Syntagma Square and surrounded the Parliament.
(see pictures here: http ://www.left.gr/article.php?id=12287
)Heavy rain did not prevent the citizens of Athens from joining the demonstration.During the demonstration, the 71 MPs of SYRIZA USF temporarily left the Room of the Parliament, holding a banner with the slogan «You destroyed the country! Leave now!» and joined the demonstrators on the Square.
(see pictures here: http ://www.left.gr/article.php?id=12361
)But the Riot Police did everything possible to «clean up» the Square before the time of the final vote:
Water cannons (first time that they were used in Greece), stun grenades and extensive use of tear-gas.
In total there were more than 100 arrests and at least 5 injured demonstrators.The voting process ended at around 00:30 am local time.The 3rd Memorandum has been ratified.MPs that voted: 299/300
Absent: 1/300 (Kostas Skandalidis, profound member of the leadership of PASOK)Since 1 MP was absent and 299 voted in total, the government needed a 150/299 majority instead of the normal 151/300.RESULTS:
In favor: 153/299
126 New Democracy
27 PASOKAgainst: 128/299
71 SYRIZA USF
20 Independent Greeks
18 Golden Dawn
3 Democratic Left (against the official position of their party)
2 PASOK (against the official position of their party)
Blank vote («Present»): 18/299
13 Democratic Le
ft (the official position of the party)
3 PASOK (against the official position of their party)
1 New Democracy (against the official position of his party)
Absent: 1/300 (on purpose, against the official position of his party, PASOK)
Immediately after the announcement of the result, the leaders of New Democracy (Mr Samaras) and PASOK (Mr Venizelos) expelled 7 MPs from their Parliamentary Groups, for not voting in favor of the measures (6 from PASOK and 1 from New Democracy).
The battle continues with the next crucial vote, on Sunday (11/11): Budget 2013.
Until Sunday there will be consecutive demonstrations all over the country.
CPC of Synaspismos
Head Responsible of the European Policy Dpt.
Austerity Pushes 20% of Greeks Into Poverty
More than 2.34 million people in Greece are living below the poverty line, due largely to a barrage of pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions that have hit workers, pensioners and the poor while the rich, politicians, and tax evaders have largely escaped sacrifice.
Those daunting numbers were published in a report by the Hellenic Statistical Agency (ELSTAT) and reflected how dire the situation was in 2010 when austerity measures demanded by international lenders were just beginning. Since then, it’s become worse, with nearly two million people out of work, 68,000 businesses shuttered and the economy shrinking by 7 percent.
And with the uneasy coalition government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras putting before Parliament a $17.45 billion spending cut and tax hike plan for a vote on Nov. 7 – as Greeks are staging a 48-hour strike in opposition – all the signs indicate that more Greeks will be unable to make ends meet.
Already, more than 20 percent of them have walked away from bank loans and credit card payments, unable to keep up with their wages slashed 35 percent and more, and lines at soup kitchens run by the Greek Orthodox Church and NGO’s are growing.
ELSTAT set the poverty line at 6,591 euros per person ($8,459) per year for 2010, while the average per capita income that year stood at 12,637 euros ($16,219.) A total of 901,190 households were found to be living below the poverty line.
On average, households spent 1,956 euros ($2,510) per month, down from the 2,065 ($2,615) euros per month that they spent in 2009. Most cuts were in apparel purchases (13.5 percent year-on-year) and communications (12.5 percent). Spending on tobacco and alcohol remained unchanged. The report highlights the fact that Greece is among the European countries with the greatest financial inequalities, as the richest 20 percent of the population had an annual income that was six times that of the poorest 20 percent.
ELSTAT found that more than half of all Greeks have trouble paying their bills, as almost two thirds – 63 percent – of Greeks make ends meet “with difficulty” or “with great difficulty.” Greek income have fallen sharply, as much as 35 percent in some cases, while some private sector workers report their salaries have been cut in half.
The 2011 survey said almost 20 percent of respondents couldn’t keep their home adequately warm, about 33 percent said they are late in paying rent, mortgages and credit card payments, and more than 50 percent said they can’t afford a one-week vacation. The ratio of Greek households at risk of poverty increased to 21.4 percent last year, from 20.1 percent in 2010, the fourth worst in Europe behind Bulgaria, Romania and Spain.
We KINDLY ask you to spread this information ”Two journalists were fired by the Greek public television organization (ERT) because they analyzed claims in a Guardian’s article on tortures”Two journalists (Kostas Arvanitis and Marilena Katsimi) were fired today by the Greek public television organization (ERT) because they analyzed claims in a Guardian’s article on tortures that took place at the General Police Directorate of Attica.A few minutes later the directors of the Greek Public Television organization made an announcement according to which these two journalists do not belong any more to the staff of the organization.This is an obvious violation against the right of having access to information which is supposed to be provided by any democratic state to its citizens.The incident comes in continuation to yesterday’s arrest of Costas Vaxevanis (publisher of the magazine of investigative journalism HOT-DOC) to publicize the list Lagarde, being hidden for more than 2 years by ministers and heads of political parties, as the list contained names of rich businessmen and politicians that are fraudsters.The continued imposition of austerity measures in the Greek society has led to excesses of the Greek Government that in order to keep in power imposes censorship on the media and applies measures of repression and cruel torture to citizens participating in demonstrations against fascism or the harsh austerity. We strongly ask you to spread this information to aid us in making known worldwide the unhuman and undemocratic impositions of this government and to put an end to the violation of our human rights.***********************************************************************************************
Greek opposition rejects new cuts but won’t force poll
PARIS | Fri Oct 26, 2012
Greece’s opposition leader denounced international lenders’ demands as dealing the «final blow» to a devastated economy but said on Friday he would not seek to bring down the government.
Alexis Tsipras, head of the far-left Syriza party, said cuts to wages and welfare payments in a package the government agreed with the European Union and International Monetary Fund would pile misery on Greeks enduring a fifth year in recession.
Tsipras, a 38-year-old former student Communist, said his party would vote against the package expected to go before parliament next week, and called on members of the ruling coalition to break ranks and do the same.
«If these measures are implemented, it will be the final blow for the Greek economy,» he told Reuters in an interview, noting that economic output had already shrunk by a quarter over the past five years, leaving one in four Greeks out of work.
«We have never seen anything like it in modern European history in a country at peace. Greece is like a country ravaged by war.»
Athens has been locked in talks for months with its coalition allies and international lenders on the 13.5 billion euro ($17.5 billion) austerity package required to secure the next tranche of the bailout and avert bankruptcy.
A deal appeared to have been finalized this week but, in a setback to conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, a junior partner in his coalition said it would vote against labor reforms demanded by foreign lenders.
Syriza has been the main beneficiary of a wave of anger unleashed by the crisis against Greece’s traditional parties, conservative New Democracy and center-left PASOK, which ruled the country since a military dictatorship ended in 1974.
It won 27 percent of the vote in June’s election to become the second-largest force in parliament behind New Democracy. A poll this month said that if elections were held today, Syriza would become the largest force, with 30.5 percent of the vote.
Despite their strong position, members of Syriza would not push Greece to fresh elections by resigning their parliamentary posts next week, said Tsipras, who was in Paris for a meeting of European left-wing parties.
«Our top priority is to overturn this policy. It is not a time for tricks, it is not a time to provoke the fall of the government,» he said, adding his party would continue to oppose austerity measures from the parliamentary benches.
Tsipras said he had no desire to see Greece exit the euro zone but the government and its European partners had to recognize that the country could not afford to pay its debt.
«Greece is already bankrupt, it’s just that its banks have not been allowed to go fold because the entire European banking system would be threatened with bankruptcy,» he said.
Thorough economic reform would require the nationalization of the entire banking system, which had bankrolled traditional political parties, Tsipras said.
Slavishly repaying Greece’s debt risked turning the country into a «colony of Germany and other powerful euro zone countries», Tsipras said.
«We risk the ruin of the European ideal: a Europe split into north and south. The only way of this idea surviving is through solidarity,» he said, calling for a European «Marshall Plan» whereby rich countries would invest in poorer ones.
If other indebted euro countries such as Spain followed Greece along the path to severe austerity, it could encourage extremists such as Greece’s Neo-Nazi Golden Dawn movement. «What we are seeing now in Greece will happen in one or two years in those countries,» he said.
Tsipras said he was disappointed by the lack of support for Greece from Europe’s left, notably France’s Socialist President Francois Hollande who was elected in May with a pledge to push back German-led austerity in the euro zone.
«We expected more of Francois Hollande,» Tsipras said, adding the French leader had not taken a stand against German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Syriza London at the mass demonstration of 20 October 2012
Re- bloged from:
syriza in the UK reaching out to the UK’s Greek community and to broader UK society
Tens of Syriza London members and supporters participated in the London mass demo on 20 October 2012 in solidarity with the British people firm in our belief in internationalist approaches to our shared struggles.
Defying Austerity through International Solidarity
This demonstration takes place two days after the general strike in Greece on 18 October 2012.
The coalition government keeps on implementing never-ending memoranda that amount to a merciless attack on our rights, the imposition of further austerity and pro-capitalist reforms, all at the expense of ordinary people. It promotes the interests of capital and banks on the pretext of patriotically rescuing the economy! Its rescue includes cutting salaries and pensions while recapitalizing the banks! It drives the youth to unemployment and migration whilst preserving the interests of ship-owners and industrialists. It drives our families to starvation while leaving big business free from any loss. The Coalition government’s “national rescue” plan condemns us to savage poverty and destitution whilst blatantly protecting the interests of those responsible for the crisis. At the same time an unprecedented attack on our civil and political rights is developing in Greece. Police alongside with fascist criminal groups through pogroms on foreigners, and through torture, attacks and repression of progressives, try to intimidate the radical popular movement and establish the reign of fear.
In both the UK and Greece we are fighting against the same policies implemented by pro-capitalist parties that further exploit the workers in order to preserve the interests of the capitalists.. The cuts here are not different than the cuts that are being currently implemented in Greece and that cause great economic and social destruction. The levels of this destruction resemble those witnessed by other countries only after destructive wars.
SYRIZA has a clear aim to overthrow that government in order to build a government loyal to the vast majority of working people and lower social layers – including, pensioners, migrants, and the unemployed – in Greece, to block the disastrous austerity measures and to build and maintain, hand in hand with society, a large and effective solidarity network that protects the working people’s rights to health, education, food and housing. This is a fight for life, dignity and hope, that can only be victorious if we join up our struggles in solidarity together all across Europe and the rest of the world.
We can see only one way forward and this is the way of struggle against the bosses, their parties (like the Con-Dems here in the UK or the Coalition Government in Greece) and their institutions (like the EU, IMF, and the ECB) both nationally and internationally. We need an alternative that protects the interests of the working class majority against a tiny capitalist minority in every country.
This demonstration should be the step of a united movement against austerity. A movement that not only seeks to stop the cuts, but that will also aim at the redistribution of wealth and make the rich pay bear the loss of the crisis that their degenerate system causes.
SYRIZA London branch
Protester’s death casts pall over yesterdays rally
Three mostly peaceful rallies held in central Athens yesterday to protest a new austerity package being hammered out by the government and the troika were overshadowed by the death of a 65-year-old demonstrator who suffered a heart attack shortly after scuffles broke out between riot police and protesters.
The man, reportedly an unemployed dockworker, was rushed to the capital’s Evangelismos Hospital at around 2 p.m. after fainting amid a crowd of protesters. He was pronounced dead after “unsuccessful attempts to give him cardiac resuscitation,” according to a statement issued by the hospital’s director. His death came almost exactly a year after that of a 53-year-old construction worker who died of a heart attack during a protest rally as MPs voted a package of austerity measures through Parliament.
It remained unclear whether the 65-year-old’s heart failure was provoked by tear gas, as reports had suggested. Police had started firing tear gas to disperse demonstrators shortly after 1 p.m. after self-styled anarchists broke off from the crowd and started throwing Molotov cocktails and stones at the officers.
Four demonstrators were injured after being hit by police, volunteer paramedics said. The Health Ministry said two of the protesters were treated in hospital and that their injuries were not serious.
Hundreds of police had been deployed in the Greek capital ahead of the demonstration. Police said seven people were arrested Thursday, out of more than 100 detained.
The strike grounded flights, shut down public services, closed schools, hospitals and shops and hampered public transport in the capital. Taxi drivers joined in for nine hours, while a three-hour work stoppage by air traffic controllers led to flight cancellations. Islands were left cut off as ferries stayed in ports.
Athens has seen hundreds of anti-austerity protests over the past three years, since Greece revealed it had been misreporting its public finance figures. The country has been surviving since then with the help of two massive international bailouts worth a total (EURO)240 billion ($315 billion). To secure them, it has committed to drastic spending cuts, tax hikes and reforms, all with the aim of getting the state coffers back under some sort of control.
But while significantly reducing the country’s annual borrowing, the measures have made the recession worse. By the end of next year, the Greek economy is expected to be around three quarters of the size it was in 2008. And with one in four workers out of a job, Greece has, along with Spain, the highest unemployment rate in the 27-nation European Union.
«We are sinking in a swamp of recession and it’s getting worse,» said Dimitris Asimakopoulos, head of the GSEVEE small business and industry association. «180,000 businesses are on the brink and 70,000 of them are expected to close in the next few months.»
The country’s four-month-old coalition government is negotiating a new austerity package with debt inspectors from the EU, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank. The idea is to save (EURO)11 billion ($14.4 billion) in spending – largely on pensions and health care – and raise an extra (EURO)2.5 billion ($3.3 billion) through taxes.
«In 2011, only 20 percent of businesses were profitable,» Asimakopoulos said. «So these new tax measures present small businesses with a choice: Dodge taxes or close your shop.»
After more than a month and a half of arguing, a deal seems close. On Wednesday, representatives from the EU, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank, said there was agreement on «most of the core measures needed to restore the momentum of reform» and that the rest of the issues should be resolved in coming days.
A good report of the issue is on follwing link … by
General strike protests spread all over Greece with tremendous participation
More and more peaceful protesters gathered at Syntagma and Omonoia Squares,
in Athens downtown area and are expected to reach higher numbers later in the day as the demonstrations continue.
Except for Athens populous demonstrations are reported all over Greece ;
in particularly in the second largest city Thessaloniki
Xanthi (the biggest ever reported)
Most of the Opposition parties participate in the demonstrations; SYRIZA-USF leader Mr Alexis Tsipras devilered a short greeting to the protesters earlier.
Metal workers from Belgium greeted also the protesters with a red banner in which it was written “Nous sommes tous des Grecs -We are all Greeks”.
Except for civil servants and private employees and workers , doctors, shop owners and taxi drivers participate in the general strike.
So far all demonstrations throughout the country remain peaceful while almost all Greek media are focusing on the tremendous participation.
“We made Mistakes” IMF’s Thomsen Briefs Foreign Media about Greece
Representative of International Monetary Fund Poul Thomsen, one of the so-called Troikans, admitted that there were mistakes in the bailout agreement between Greece and its lenders.
According to Sunday newspaper »TO VIMA», shortly before the Eurogroup meeting on October 8th and the visit of German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Athens a day earlier, Poul Thomsen had briefed representatives of foreign media in Greece. The briefing took place in Hilton Hotel, where Thomsen and the other Troika representatives reside, when in Athens.
The main points of Thomsen’s briefing:
– “We have reduced wages, but we did not open the closed professions.”
– “The way we approached competitiveness in Greece was wrong.”
– ” We covered half the way, cutting wages and we needed to make changes in the labour market, to open the markets and the closed professions.”
– “The main problem is that we are in the fifth year of recession and still have positive inflation. And this creates an uneven distribution of the weight.”
According to »TO VIMA», the first words spoken by the Danish official were that we must dissolve the impression that they are pushing for tougher measures and we do not trust the government to implement them. However, he added that the troika has no good experience from the ability of the Greek authorities to control spending in the municipalities and the health sector.
Poul Thomsen spoke also about a two-year extension of the program but he refrained from tlaking about the sustainability of Greek debt.
”The extension creates a funding gap for 4 years, but if there is no funding, then we should come back with more measures.”As regards to the prime minister, Thomsen said that he [Antonis Samaras] succeeded in diplomatically rpomoting the Greek issue, but that nobody wants another program that moves off track.»TO VIMA» submitted a request to the IMF about the briefing of Thomsen to foreign journalists. The reply the newspaper received by the IMF spokesman was that
“There was not official briefing, no notes were distributed to reporters.”
»TO VIMA» asked also about the purpose of the briefing, but got no answer. (TO VIMA
I thought the Troika was not supposed to speak to journalists… But apparently the briefing was off the record… lol
Ps. Do it simple …. just fire them!! They are ….. useless, couldn’t correct the state, drawned the economy, killed the society ….. fire them without compensation!!
48% of Greeks believe SYRIZA will WIN next Elections!!
80% of the Greeks believe the country goes to the wrong direction, while 48% are convinced that left-wing and main opposition party SYRIZA will win the elections should they take place tomorrow.
In a public opinion survey (Political Barometer October 2012) conducted by Public Issue for Skai TV and Kathimerini newspaper, the citizens’s anger and outrage continue to increase (25% in September, 28% in October).
It’s also interesting to see the profile of Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) supporters: 72% are against the Memorandum of Understanding, the bailout agreement between Greece and its lenders, while 19% are in favor.
An equal percentage of respondents, 72%, states that it has difficulties to come along with their income: 42% big difficulty, 30% difficulty, 25% they manage, 3% no problem.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is still ‘the best suitable PM’ with 43% (three units more than September), while main opposition party leader Alexis Tsipras get 28% (one unit less than in September).
Most popular popular leader is Fotis Kouvelis (Democratic Left) with 48%, followed by Alexis Tsipras with 41%, Panos Kammenos (Indepentent Greeks) with 40%, Antonis Samaras (39%), Aleka Papariga (KKE) with 21%, Nikos Michaloliakos (Golden Dawn) with 20% and Evangelos Venizelos (PASOK) also with 20%.
In the elections performance (“which party do you believe will win should elections take part tomorrow?”) SYRIZA leads with 48% with an impressive difference from Nea Dimokratia 33%.
Best government: 32% ND-PASOK-DemLeft, 22% SYRIZA, 40% None of them
Political parties popularity: 1. column positive impression, 2. column negative impression
DemLeft: 41 – 55
SYRIZA: 40 -57
INDEPGREEKS: 38 – 58
ND: 35 – 63
Chrysi Avgi: 21 – 75
KKE: 20 -77
PASOK: 19 – 80
48% say the state functions worse than 5 years ago.
80% country goes in the wrong direction
13% country goes to right direction
Golden Dawn Supporters’ Profile of those 21% who declared they had a positive impression:
Men 25% – Women 17%
Ages groups: 18-24 30%, 25-34 24%, 35-44 25%, 45-54 21%, 55-64 16%, 65+ 17%
Education: Lower 26%, Medium 25%, Higher 15%
Economic Status: Active 22%, Unemployed 26%, not-active 18% (or 10%; can’t read …)
Geographic criteria: Cities 19%, Semi-cities 27%, Agricultural 23%
The public opinion survey was conducted among 1,017 people over the country, between 4-5 October 2012. See Full Survey results here (in Greek)
According to a new poll of Greek voters, opposition political party SYRIZA is in the lead.
Bloomberg reports that 80 percent of those polled say the country is going in the wrong direction.
72 percent of those polled say they are against the bailout of Greece by troika (IMF, ECB, EU) creditors.
And 48 percent say they think SYRIZA – the anti-bailout party that lost a close race to the current ruling party, New Democracy, in June – will win the next election.
Meanwhile, the extremist right-wing Golden Dawn party – on the opposite side of the political spectrum as SYRIZA – is quickly gaining in popularity among Greek voters as well (Golden Dawn has often been described as neo-Nazi
Occupy Astoria L.I.C 10/Oct/2012
Public Meeting: Say “NO” to the Neo-Nazi “Golden Dawn” in NEW YORK CITY
Golden Dawn, G.D. (in Greek, Chrysi Avgi), the neo-Nazi, ultra-nationalistic party, which was recently elected to the Greek Parliament under the pretext of concern over unemployment, austerity and the economy, and while engaging in virulent anti-immigrant rhetoric and anti-democratic, nationalistic activities, has now established a chapter in New York City. Several groups and organizations have already publicly expressed their outrage and have called for immediate action.
For over 30 years, G.D. has operated from the margins of the far right political spectrum using the symbols, practices and methods of a racist, anti-democratic and intolerant neo-Nazi ideology. The recent economic crisis, however, has brought them to the forefront of political developments. They recently drew the attention of the international media when one of their Parliament members physically attacked two women from Left wing parties on live television. Before that incident and since, G.D. thugs have organized murderous attacks against immigrants, left wingers, gays as well as anyone who will stand in their way.
G.D. harbors common criminals. In the 70s, the “Fuhrer,” as they honorably call their leader, was imprisoned for setting off bombs in cinemas that showed films of Soviet production. Around the same period, members of the organization were also prosecuted for committing acts of terrorism against left wing newspapers and organizations. Today, they exhibit particular disdain against Muslims while they also openly deny the Holocaust.
In New York City, G.D. masquerades as a philanthropic organization conducting food and clothing drives. The goal of such activities is to popularize G.D.’s neo-Nazi ideology and enlist public sympathy. G.D.’s ‘philanthropic’ activity is a cynical ploy and has to be condemned as such. Alternatively, “Doctors of the World,” “AHEPA,” and a number of other international or community- based NGOs rely on our help to support the Greek people. We urge all who wish to do so to support legitimate charities and Greek solidarity groups, and reject Golden Dawn’s advances.
History teaches us that economic crises can breed hatred, racism and ultimately fascism. Capitalism divides us along social, cultural and political lines so as to dominate us more effectively. Few cities in the world other than New York know this better. We therefore invite immigrant organizations, unions, teachers’ associations and cultural organizations to an open meeting where we can freely discuss and decide how we can effectively act against racism, violence and fascism.
PLEASE JOIN US ON
October 9, 2012 • 7–10pm
Church of the Redeemer 30-14 Crescent Street (Corner of 30th Road), Astoria, NY 11102-3249
The event is co-sponsored by:
Left Movement NY (Aristeri Kinisi NY)
Occupy Astoria – LIC
Situations: Project of the Radical Imagination Strike Debt*
German Left Party Chief (DIE LINKE) joined Athens Protests today
The head of Germany’s opposition Left Party – DIE LINKE, Mr. Bernd Riexinger, traveled to Athens and joined the demonstration against Merkel and hold a speech. «Merkel’s visit to Athens will heighten internal conflicts in Greece,» told Mr. Riexinger to the press. » We came here, to show our solidarity to the Greek people. We, as a left party from Germany, disagree verticaly with the austerity messures and with the Troika mechanism. I am here to express and declare our international solidarity to the Greek workers and pensioners who are demonstrating on the streets to protest against income cutbacks, that are threatening their livelihoods.»
Europe can survive this austerity-induced crisis, but only if it is reshaped for and by the people
As Angela Merkel visits Athens on Tuesday, she will find a Greece in its fifth consecutive year of recession. In 2008 and 2009, the recession was a spillover from the global financial crisis. Since then it has been caused and deepened by the austerity policies imposed on Greece by the troika – of the International Monetary Fund, the European Union, the European Central Bank – and the Greek government.
These policies are devastating the Greek people, especially workers, pensioners, small businessmen and women, and of course young people. The Greek economy has contracted by more than 22%, workers and pensioners have lost 32% of their income, and unemployment has reached an unprecedented 24% with youth unemployment at 55%. Austerity policies have led to cuts in benefits, the deregulation of the labour market and the further deterioration of the limited welfare state that had survived a neoliberal onslaught.
The government argues that only the austerity agenda can make the Greek public debt viable again. But the opposite is true. Austerity policies prevent the economy from returning to growth. Austerity creates a vicious spiral of recession and an increase in debt that in turn leads both Greece and its lenders to calamity.
All this is known to the European and Greek policymakers and elites, including Merkel, who aim to implement similar programmes in all European countries facing debt problems, such as Spain, Portugal and Italy. Why do they insist so dogmatically on this disastrous political and economic path? We believe that their aim is not to solve the debt crisis but to create a new regulatory framework throughout Europe that is based on cheap labour, deregulation of the labour market, low public spending and tax exemptions for capital. To succeed, this strategy uses a form of political and financial blackmail that aims to convince or coerce Europeans to accept austerity packages without resistance. The politics of fear and blackmail used in Greece is the best illustration of this strategy.
My party, Syriza-United Social Front, respects the ordinary European taxpayer who is asked to shoulder loans to countries in distress, including Greece. The European citizens should know, however, that loans to Greece are paid into an «escrow» account and are used exclusively to repay past loans and to re-capitalise near bankrupt private banks. The money cannot be used to pay salaries and pensions, or to buy basic medicine for hospitals and milk for schools. The precondition for these loans is even more austerity, paralysing the Greek economy and increasing the possibility of default. If there is a risk of European taxpayers losing their money, it is created by austerity.
This has to stop now. Europe needs a new plan to deepen European integration. Such a plan must challenge neoliberalism and lead European economies back to recovery. It should prioritise the needs of workers, pensioners and the unemployed, not the interests of multinational companies and bankrupt bankers. Syriza-USF has committed itself to this road. We know it is a difficult one. But it is the only plan that can restore the European vision of social justice, peace and solidarity.
This plan will succeed only if popular struggles radically change the balance of forces. These struggles have started already and have led to the rise of left and resistance movements throughout Europe. They keep alive democracy, equality, freedom and solidarity, the most important values of the European political tradition. These values must prevail. Otherwise Europe will regress to a dark past we thought gone for ever.
SYRIZA Wants To Establish Parliamentary Committee For German War Reparations
September 29, 2012
Main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras called for the establishment of an inter-party parliamentary committee to pursue WWII war reparations from Germany, in a letter addressed to the parliament president tabled on Thursday, noting that «we must all invest faith and confidence» in such a committee’s work.
Tsipras’ motion was tabled in the 300-member parliament just days after a German foreign ministry statement said that «there is no issue» of reparations to Greece after the passing of so many years.
The SYRIZA leader said in his letter that in the approximately 70 years since the end of WWII, the Greek governments have never organised or pursued systematically the demand for the fulfillment of occupation Germany’s obligations to the Greek people.
He pointed out that the inter-state agreement for the forced loan to Germany during the occupation, the stolen treasures and the reparations for the destruction of infrastructures and human capital have been dealt with by the various Greek governments in a piecemeal fashion and with an attitude that was almost offensive to the historical memory of the Greek people.
Tsipras also said that the joint meeting of parliament’s standing Economic Affairs and Defence and External Affairs committees on March 28 on the German reparations, at the initiative of MPs of all the parties, had been an initiative of outstanding importance, and recalled that «the demand and decision of this meeting was the establishment of an inter-party parliamentary committee, from the parliament plenary, responsible for the collection and organisation of the undisputable historic documents that will render the Greek argumentation capable of demanding that which is owed and to rally other European forces in this effort».
Tsipras assured the parliament president that the SYRIZA parliamentary group, true to its commitments, «wants to give continuity to this common effort, with a motion for the establishment of this committee».
In May, then Finance Minister Filippos Sahinidis told Parliament that he had ordered the archives of the General Accounting Office to be searched for evidence to support Greece’s claims against Germany for war reparations that have been outstanding since the period of the Nazi occupation in WWII.
Sahinidis said that finance ministry officials had already found dossiers with the details of Greeks who had received compensation from Germany in the 1960s, while the search of the archives would continue and any documents found would be utilised and converted to digital form in order to ensure that it would not be lost.
Tsipras Demands Greek Debt Conference Like Post-War Germany
September 27, 2012
Greece’s main left-wing opposition leader Alexis Tsipras called Thursday for a one-off international conference to write off Greek debt similar to a 1953 London deal on German war reparations.
Tsipras made the call during a press conference at the European Parliament warning that a third and even possibly a fourth Greek EU-IMF bailout for Greece was “unavoidable” if they continued “dead end” austerity policies.
“The solution we propose is a European conference on debt, as happened in 1953 for the Federal Republic of Germany,” said Tsipras, who heads the Syriza party. The 1953 accord covered the balance of war reparations imposed in 1919 after World War I as the United States and many other countries including Greece wrote-off much of the debt and eased payments, with the last coming in 2010.
“Greece was one of the countries that agreed a 60 percent reduction in German debt,” Tsipras noted, adding: “We need some kind of new Marshall Plan — we need a change.”
The post-World War II Marshall Plan led by the United States provided a devastated western Europe with massive funding to aid recovery, laying the basis for the prosperity and security of later years.
Tsipras said it was “evident that all EU member states should participate” in this conference, not just the eurozone, as well as private investors, because “the common currency is the only way forward.”
There had to be change, he said, because the “deadly medicine” of austerity over the last three years meant that nearly all bailout funds were “only going to save Greek bankers who created the debt in tandem with European bankers.
“We are discussing whether we should have a third haircut of the debt. Let us start talking about something we can do so as not to reach a fourth — because the third is unavoidable.”
General strike to shut down Greece on Wednesday 26/SEPT/12 [Update]
Public sector workers including tax and customs officers, social security fund workers, employees at municipalities, prefectures and public utilities, state-owned bank workers, merchants, lawyers and a number of private sector workers will be participating in a 24-hour strike on Wednesday called by the country’s two biggest umbrella unions, GSEE and ADEDY.
Gas station owners also said that they will remain shut until 3 p.m., while a strike by air traffic controllers will mean interruptions to flights, especially during the midday hours.
Downtown Athens and Thessaloniki are expected to experience serious traffic problems as strikers hold marches to protest a new round of austerity measures that the coalition government is currently negotiating Greece’s foreign creditors in order to achieve 11.5 billion euros in savings, mostly by shaving public sector salaries, pensions, benefits and health care spending.
In Athens, GSEE and ADEDY will start its protest at Pedion tou Areos Park in the morning before marching to central Syntagma Square in front of Parliament, while the Communist Party-affiliated union PAME will be holding its own rally at Omonia Square.
Education and health services will also be affected as elementary, middle and high-school teachers walk off the job, along with university professors, as well as doctors and workers at hospitals, medical centers and the ambulance service.
Intercity train, Proastiakos suburban railway and ferry services will be halted, though the ISAP electric railway and the metro will be operating as usual, with the exception of the metro’s Doukissis Plakentias – Athens International Airport route, which will be suspended.
Trolley buses and blue buses will be running limited services from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Tuesday September 25, 2012 (20:50)
Revealed: Tsipras isn’t a mad Commie, and even Venizelos’s surname is a fraud
Greece is turning steadily to the Left – at all class levels.
Partly from a feeling among most people under 40 that the existing Establishment are a bunch of deadbeats (they’re not wrong, either) and partly because of the plain-speaking charm of Syriza’s leader, Alexis Tsipras (left, in every sense).
A leading centre-right Greek intellectual writes this to me:
‘In both [2012 Greek] elections I found myself incredibly impressed by him, and actually growing to like him….especially his (for me) rather charming voice, which is the exact opposite of an orator’s: naturally broken and rough…the charm being that this rather broken voice says intelligent things [in contrast to the other pols] in a measured way, at most rising to emphatic. He is naturally self-controlled & factual. He’s an engineer and that’s exactly what he sounds like, a conscientious engineer who does the research and opens it to the public. Ergo, a lot of people who were not attracted by Syriza 4 years ago, have come to trust him.
Further, his response to the crisis has been to invite in everyone to shape and find new policies. So the party’s positions have matured considerably, while he opens up Greece’s multiple options – for we DO have options – to public discussion and debate. He educates, even as he is being educated himself. In this ridiculous, terrible reality, this is powerfully attractive.
I did not vote Syriza, because of its blanket support for the unions. I support unions absolutely – but there are good unions and bad….and in our case the government-supported unions are a HUGE part of the problem. Now? I’d probably vote Syriza.’
The opinion polls (and their demographic breakdowns of support) add quantitative evidence to suggest that my correspondent is right. I am not a chap of the Stateist Left myself, but I think I’d rather vote for an Elgin Marble than, say, Evangelos Venizelos.
Talking of whom, did you know his name isn’t Venizelos at all? It’s true: Eleftherios Venizelos was, earlier in the last century, a sort of Hellenic Winston Churchill – the greatest statesman and hero of modern Greece. Evangelos Veryblobulous was born into a completely unrelated family with a different last name. He made the change while a student – by deed poll, supposedly as an act of ‘homage’, ha-ha-ha. The blob’s real family name is Turkoglou, so you can see pretty immediately one good reason for changing it to a name that isn’t Turkoglou. An anagram of Turkoglou is Loot K. Guru, by the way. Not many people know that.
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