Greece retires...

Agree to new austerity measures or risk being kicked out of the eurozone: that’s the alternative presented to Athens on the day the euro group is meeting. It’s a situation Greek politicians have failed to avoid, regrets To Vima.

Published on 9 February 2012 at 14:53

In the dramatic hours between yesterday afternoon [February 8] and this morning, Greece failed, as expected, to stand up to the coercion of its creditors. In essence they said “Yes to everything” – except to lowering pensions. On this point the creditors seem to be giving more time to balance the objectives, but in practice, the Troika’s ultimatum has been accepted.

Greece fought for the pensions, and this is worth something in this chaos. But the chaos is here: how much deeper the recession will get due to the additional new measures has not been figured in. Revenues plunged in January, the structural targets [deficit reduction] have not been met, and social cohesion and peace have been undermined, as has development.

Our membership in the single currency remains, nevertheless, just as threatened as before, if not more. Nothing is guaranteed, simply because nothing that will happen will serve this purpose – to stay inside the eurozone – but will go exclusively to repaying the debt. That has been the Achilles heel of these negotiations.

To avert the destruction of Greek society

In reality, Greece itself is retiring: after the party leaders sign off in favour of austerity, and if all this is passed by parliament, our national sovereignty will no longer have any meaning. It is becoming possible to inflict on us all kinds of policies and political developments, whatever they may be, which is leading us to an impasse, and to an explosion of competitiveness, not in the Greek economy, but between society and its political class, between the recession and the hope of recovery that is slowly dying.

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The country appears headed for an era similar to the interwar years, which helps to dash any hopes of "seeing the light at the end of the tunnel" – without having succeeded, despite the rhetoric, at achieving any national reform. We are very close to seeing our membership in the single currency revoked – and this state of affairs will go on, because the tightening of the screws is going to get worse.

To stay in the euro, whatever it will cost, to avert the destruction of Greek society: that's the only thing our leaders should have been negotiating. And that's the only thing that was not mentioned by the Minister of Finance as he headed off to the Euro Group meeting [February 9].

I am leaving for Brussels in the hope that the Euro Group meeting will be held and will come up with a positive decision to support the programme [for financial aid]. The survival of the country in the coming years depends on getting this funding, and whether or not the debt is reduced. On this depends the country's place in the eurozone, and even our place in the European Union.

But he is the only one saying it. The reality points to something else.


Last-minute deal and a call for a general strike

The parties that support Prime Minister Lucas Papademos have reached a last-ditch agreement on new austerity measures demanded by the troika (EU, ECB, IMF) before a second aid plan is approved, reveals the Financial Times. The 130 billion euros are meant to help Athens avoid default. The green light came a few hours before a crucial meeting of eurozone countries’ finance ministers in Brussels, who are convening precisely to examine the Greek plan. Greece’s major unions, which consider the plan unjust, have called a two-day strike starting on February 10.

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