Since PM Alexis Tsipras announced a referendum about whether to accept or reject Troika’s ultimatum to Greece for further austerity measures, the corporate media have sided uncritically with the Yes party. They’ve gone so far as to claim that the Greek citizens should vote YES because such initiative was a mistake.
In the days leading the referendum, they couldn’t help but spew the customary panicking pro-EU repertoire. They showed queues of people at ATMs – though dressed in scarves and coats, despite it’s July. They stated Greece was undergoing a shortage of food, heralded that soon a 30% compulsory levy on current accounts exceeding €8,000 would be carried out. And way more drivel of this very mold.
But for 5 years they have kept silent about Greece’s spike in the suicide count, now up to 10,000 cases, about 500,000 malnourished children, and about 3 million people with no access to healthcare, leading to a rise of stillbirths and infant mortality rates, soaring levels of HIV infection among drug addicts, and the revival of malaria after 40 years since the last time – all of it, an outcome of the EU austerity politics, which included public hospital budget cuts and halved public spending on pharmaceuticals. Of course, such stuff isn’t newsworthy at all – made-up reporting is!
Greece was compelled to make swingeing cutbacks to meet the terms of the bailout packages offered by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund – read, the Troika.
Syriza Party was elected to power on January 2015 elections with an explicit mandate to put an end to austerity, and the people’s NO at the July 5 referendum is also a rejection of Tsipras’s attempt to seal an agreement with the EU and ECB based on a further program of cuts, simply to be implemented over a slightly delayed timetable.
The Troika imposed austerity measures in 2010. Greeks’ salaries and pensions shrank dramatically hereinafter, and two-thirds of pensioners ended up living below the poverty line. Privatizations of the public asset involved everything and anything profitable: airport services, national banks, port authorities, post offices, water utilities, electricity, telecommunication, the prime publicly-owned real estate, the national lottery. All was quickly sold off to oligarchs and international corporations. Many schools and hospitals were shuttered for lack of funds. Five years later, nearly 26% of working-age adults are unemployed, as well as 50% of youth, with no prospect of a future. And the Troika wants more of that – more looting for Greece.
On July 5, the Greek people uttered aloud a clear NO to bankers, financial technocrats, EU-bureaucrats and minions to follow. More than 61% of the voters rejected the bailout plan proposed by the Troika, which envisaged new cuts in public spending and indiscriminate increases of taxes in order to get additional financial assistance to pay off… the Troika itself!
Voters dumped out the ploy. Nothing new so far. Most times, when the European citizens are called to express themselves, the schedules plotted in secret rooms by the European bureaucrats and bankers are likely to blow.
In 2005, France and the Netherlands asked the opinion of the citizens to approve the European Constitution, and the NO won. Italy ratified it only through parliament. Poland, Ireland, Denmark, Czech Republic, after the results of the French and Dutch referendum, called off theirs. The European Constitution was rejected. Thus, the technocrats concocted the Treaty of Lisbon, which was nothing else but a modification of few minor aspects to the previous text. The trick was to turn a founding act, like the draft constitution, in an emendatory treaty, as if it was a mere modification of agreements already in place.
This time, they eschewed asking for the views of citizens. Only Ireland decided to ratify the treaty by referendum, and the NO win. Eurocrats claimed it was to be redone. A year later, the YES won, and this time the referendum was fine. Same thing had happened in 2001 with the Treaty of Nice, concerning EU enlargement to the east.
Such failed experiences led to the usual rejection of European representatives towards citizens’ opinion. Namely, towards democracy itself, regarded by the financial circles as an unnecessary complication to be relegated to the past.
The representatives of the financial oligarchy were unable to conceal their resentment and hostility at the Greek referendum. Therefore, is no wonder the sort of comments preceding and following it, that the MSM have parroted daily.
European Parliament Chairman M. Schulz, who previously warned the Syriza Govt to abide by the austerity agreements concluded by the past Pasok and conservative governments, had expressed his hope in a YES victory and the following formation of a government of technocrats, in order to resume the negotiations and find a reasonable deal with the creditors – reasonable for the creditors, I guess. He added also that this would be the end of the Syriza era – obviously, if YES wins, the EU would require a change of government.
On several occasions, Schulz did not hide his intolerance towards political entities not aligned with him, often calling “fascists” their representatives as well. According to him, Greeks’ choice to elect Syriza to power in January 2015 elections is unacceptable.
Martin Jaeger, spokesman of German Finance Minister W. Schaeuble, keeps rejecting the possibility of a debt restructuring for Greece: “Europe has opted for solutions other than cutting debt to solve the problems of the Euro countries, and it has worked.”
As regards to Italy, in 2011 the solution the EU opted for was the bankers’ puppet Mario Monti, a liquidator imposed to further scuttle Italian economy. Commenting the Greek referendum, he said: “Greece is at the mercy of Russia and other powers threatening us.”
Who did he mean by us, I wonder? Italian people? I guess no. The Monti Cabinet, composed entirely of unelected technocrats, lasted just 529 days and at the end of it the country’s economy was in shambles, worse than ever.
Monti struck the bases of Italy’s welfare by making changes to Social Security system (like a raise of retirement age), and to work dynamics (less strict rules on layoffs and work contracts vexatious towards employees). These reforms aimed to reassure markets on the country’s financial resilience. Moreover, to ensure a sham stability of the public debt, he increased taxation, especially on house property – the fine European solutions!
D. Sassoli, a MP of the Democratic Party, which was the main supporter of the Monti Cabinet at the time, commenting the Greek referendum, stated: “How can you deal with a government that remits to citizens the decisions to be taken?”
Damn’ right! Why should the Greek people have a voice on their fate?
Being rooted so high a concept of “democracy” in the EU domain, there’s little doubt the referendum result will be disregarded, and the EU will keep its inflexible stance that the Greek debt issue must be resolved only on its own terms.
Three Part Series on Greece