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Backed by Popular Mandate, Greece Submits New Deal for Dignity and Debt Relief


#1

Backed by Popular Mandate, Greece Submits New Deal for Dignity and Debt Relief

Deirdre Fulton, staff writer

The Greek government on Thursday evening approved a package of specific reform measures it will present to foreign creditors in an effort to break an impasse that has raised questions about austerity and democracy across the European continent.

While details were not immediately made public, news reports suggested the reform plan could include "punitive" measures such as at least €12 billion of cuts and tax increases—all in exchange for debt relief.


#3

Well said, Jonny James. We're all Greeks,


#4

It more than a little likely MS Nuland used the example of the Ukraine and the US sponsored coup there to show Greece how far the USA was willing to go if as happened in the Ukraine , the Government of Greece chose Russia over the EU.

The occupation of West Europe by the Empire continues. It 60 years and counting.


#5

Brother James, everything you've said here is the boilerplate ISO reaction to Syriza from day one. And that analysis has been wrong at every single turn. If Tsipras was this great "trojan greek", the referendum need never have happened. Further, it's clear that very "capitulation" has been rejected emphatically by the Troika, indicating that if he's determined to cave, he's doing a very poor job of it.

Syriza has the insanely difficult task of playing point man in the battle against an authoritarian EU AND a global neoliberal order with next to no leverage. And that requires a ton of tactical maneuvering, strategic adaptability, and flat out deception (not to us, but to the overlords) just to make a game of this. Complicating this immensely is the profound desire of Greeks to remain in some form of European union.

In this position, the luxury of bleating out revolutionary slogans hoping they'll rally the people to direct conflict with the financial class is not a luxury they have. The portions of the Left who are having trouble following this complex circus need to show more patience than this, and far more trust to a regime that has earned at least some.

Here's what we know: Syriza has repeatedly pledged to attempt to "pay its debts" by offering packages that have had a 1005 rejection rate. It's safe to assume that Tsipras and co. have figured out that every reasonable offer they make will be rejected, but with every rejection they get more traction among the Greek people for executing additional forms of resistance. This is an unfortunately slow process, but one that has to be done. Now if this ws how it went down in the past, couldn't it be that this game is still being played? Perhaps with a new goal in mind, say, another referendum that covers EU membership or, perhaps, a move into another form of alliance elsewhere?

These brothers and sisters need our support desperately, and we should give it to them, not snipe dogmatically from the sidelines. Now certainly if he offers a terrible austerity package that is accepted, than I would probably be in the wrong here, but so far, that hasn't happened. It's unlikely to happen this time, either.

The worst thing any leftist could do right now is to turn their backs on Syriza and the greek people just because we don't always understand the game that's being played and a handful of butthurt authoritarians who run an internet rag say it should be revolution or bust. Let's be comrades. They've earned that much from us.


#7

Apologies for making it sound like you're one of the Northist parrots. I pointed it out not because of you but because its becoming an increasingly dominant narrative on the mediated Left, amd people who read any exchange might benefit from grounding it in that context.

I totally agree that it would be better. I actually think they probably won't have a choice. But I also suspect Tsipras understand this as well and always has. Everything they seem to do is to slowly nudge their people along. If Syriza and parliament bolt from the now, that act of impulse will almost surely bring that government down. That's the worst outcome at this point.

One of the best pieces of evidence that this is a conscious strategy is the fact that the "No" vote greatly exceeded the number of votes Syriza drew as a party, indicating that their political position is expanding to a greater audience.

Regarding what Nuland may or may not be chirping into the Greek governments ear, I strongly suspect that she has about as much credibility and pull as my shoe with Syriza. It's not as if they needed reminding that she's evil and that displeasure brings about regime change, since Tsipras and Varafoukinas already appeared to understand the coup attempt brewing from the EC. You can't really threaten a government with a coup when there's already one under way.

We wait, we watch, and we support as best we can, while focusing our energies on our own territories. That's all we can do. Again, sorry for the poorly worded opening of my OP.


#10

I suppose this is a silly thought, but I've noticed that we have tons of "wisdom" from experts from the troika, the EU, the billionaires, the Fourth Reich, but why aren't we hearing some expert testimony from Argentina and Iceland? These are nations who have rejected this crap and they are doing well.
* I'd love to hear some "This is how we did it, and this is what we learned." from the nations who have stood up to robbery and banditry and won. Might make some interesting reading.
;-})


#11

hospitals are rustarvationnning on e, running out of meds/supplies, docs/nurses are leaving the country, other professional, in drove. hep c, hiv,( needle exchange program only gives out 4 needles rather than 200,) syphllis are running rampant. just like in africa, leaving those that can least afford to fend for themselves, and unable to stave off starvation, to hold up the crumbling economy. the banks win, the people lose, geesh, the party of gawd has infected the rest of the world.
don't doubt that rethugs will look at this (and tories win,) as a win win for their side, (even though the people have spoken,) to push thru even harsher austerity measures, and it seems as though there is not a darn thing we the hoi polloi can do


#12

good point. i have been thiniking the same thing. eu was terrified that this would cross borders to portugal, spain. now they can rest easy


#13

Did Tsipris take negotiating lessons from Obama? What the hell! We don't know all the details but this sounds like a sellout, especially after receiving such an anti-austerity mandate from the Greek people.


#14

It bothers me that a staff writer at a so- called progressive site would use the term "radical" to decribe the leftest Syriza. What makes them radical, that they support true government of the people, for the people? That seems rather strange that such a term would be used by someone living in a country that touts itself the world's leading democracy.

You are promoting the idea that real democracy is somehow radical, which is something that would not surprise coming from the mainstream press. But someone writing for Commondreams should know better?
After all how are the people to know what true democracy is, unless people stop trying to undermine it under the deception of practicing it. "Radical leftest"?
Pretty soon anyone that believes in true democracy will be labeled a "Communist", and we don't want to go through that again, do we?
Don't do that, please.


#15

Like many of you I have been following the news about this crisis and the resulting referendum on Sunday where Greek citizens overwhelmingly said NO! to further austerity measures. They are tired of the turmoil of the past 5 years and are demanding a shift to a growth strategy to help them climb out of the chaos that Greece finds itself in today. Now as a social democract I have lots empathy for this view but I also have a strong view that you must live within your means and pay your debts. So I have been doing some research and it has affected my views on this matter.

When the EU was formed the Greeks conveniently underestimated the level of their debt and the EU seemingly did nothing to verify the information so shame on both their houses. The true magnitude of the Greek debt was only realized a decade later when Greece on on the verge of defaulting on over 110 billion Euro in debt to private banks. The EU agreed to cover this debt to private banks and lent Greece the 110 billion resulting in EU citizens and taxpayers assuming this private debt obligation. The first mistake. As a condition to assuming this debt the EU demanded a series of austerity measures to increase the fiscal stability of Greece and the likelihood of repayment. This was the first of 7 austerity packages agreed to by the parties between 2010-2013 which has included a further 130 billion euro of loans [the 2nd mistake] by the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Union. That brought the total of EU taxpayer funding to 240 billion euro. Today the debate is over a 8th austerity package in which the Greeks have asked for a further 50 billion euro in funding.

And on paper the austerity program is tough--privatization of state owned institutions such as gambling, banks, ports, utilities, and more; 15% cut in public service salaries; 22% drop in minimum wage; school closures; health care funding cuts; defense cuts; increase in "sin" taxes; 5 billion cuts in pension payments over 5 years; luxury taxes on property, yachts, cars, high incomes; increases in property and VAT taxes; an end to public service tenure and a attrition strategy to reduce the size of public service; increase in retirement age from 61 to 65; and more.

When I read these my social democratic blood boils and I can easily understand the referendum result. But as always there are 2 sides to the story. I am forced to admit that the Greek history is filled with corruption, entitlement and a resistance to change. In 2010 the Greek government failed to collect taxes from over 89% of those who owed the state money. Amazing--89%!! By comparison in Germany they failed to collect owed taxes from 2% of German citizens or business. Greeks have refined the art of not paying taxes. The black market in Greece is estimated to be worth 65 billion annually or 25% of GDP or 20 billion in unpaid taxes annually. Transparency International in 2009 estimated that almost 1 billion in "fakelaki" or bribes were paid by citizens annually to low level government officials. A further 3.5 billion in bribes annually were paid by companies to state institutions as the cost of doing business in Greece. And my personal favorite--pensions could be willed to your children. These are third world realities.

Systemic change is hard to implement and can take a generation to actually be achieved and if there was evidence that real changes were being made then I think EU citizens would have greater empathy for Greece but sadly most austerity measures implemented to date have been done badly with limited affect. So it is not surprising that EU citizens react to calls from Greece for another 50 billion in aid plus forgiveness of almost 150 billion in debt relief in the absence of any meaningful structural change over the past 5 years in Greece with deep suspicion and distrust.

Greece does have choices. It can secure some debt repayment relief and commit fully to the implementation of austerity measures that they have already agreed to or they can pursue another path to economic recovery outside the EU. On the former we must remember that the EU needs to be sensitive to member countries like Norway, Ireland, Spain and Italy who have either come through this process or are in it now. Consistency will be key to maintaining the EU. And if Greece feels strongly that it must pursue another path then let them and be respectful in that transition to minimize impact on both Greece and the EU. It would not be the end of the world and will keep the door open to Greece's return one day to the EU.

Either way the next few days will tell us the answer and will write yet another chapter in the complex history of Greece and the EU.


#17

I for one wish that Syriza and the Greeks would declare open war on the Troika, for what the bank criminals have been doing for 10+ years is nothing short of a destruction of their country and culture for profit and power. Do you understand yet that the Troika has been PAYING ITSELF through Greece and calling each payment "new debt"? If that isn't criminal assault, what is? A declaration of war and a clear program for winning it---domestic tax reform, building their future as an energy-provider in wind and solar, returning to the drachma---would galvanize Greeks like nothing before and pull them through the hard times till they win their freedom again. TO HELL WITH THE EU---and if the Troika isn't stopped now, every other European victim will be next.


#18

How about a public audit into exactly how that debt was created and what corruption was involved, this with a view to prosecution and seizure of assets of the proceeds of crime.