The European Union propaganda machine has moved into top gear to promote its hardline attitude to Greece’s financial problems. The EU’s power house, Germany, is in full condemnation mode of Alexis Tsipras’s government with even the so-called Centre Left party, the SPD, saying “Everywhere in Europe, the sentiment is growing that enough is enough.” Well, not everyone, no.
At the central core of this Greek tragedy, and that is what it is, is the catastrophic state of the country’s finances. The country is in hock to the tune of £360bn, 26% of the population is already unemployed and GDP has fallen by 25% since 2010. Is that enough for starters? How about adding increases in taxes, especially VAT, and cutting people’s pensions?
In order to borrow yet another €7.2bn from the EU, Greece has to agree to repay a cash for reforms (cuts to you and me) sum of €1.5bn to the IMF by the end of the month. Yes, they borrow from one hand and give it to another. Meanwhile, the poor bloody Greeks at the bottom of the food chain are still suffering.
With Greece under huge pressure, two things should be remembered: Greece is the home of democracy and PM Tsipiras has a mandate from the Greek people to resist further crippling austerity, a far bigger mandate that Cameron and Osborne have here at home. Politicians can complain that the Greek government is “playing with fire”, but isn’t it doing exactly what its electors asked it to?
The vexed question is this: what next? There is no arguing with the fact that the Greek economy was in deep trouble before it joined the Euro. It was spending more than it had coming in and, by concealing overspending, governments of different colours got round the EU cap of 3% on borrowing over GDP. What happened next was the bail out and the scorched earth solutions that followed.
What is Tsipiras to do next? If he sticks to his guns and Greek defaults on its loans, does the entire country collapse into disarray, tumble out of the Euro, becoming effectively bankrupt with wages and pensions being unpaid? Who benefits from that? Not the Greeks, the ordinary Greek people, who have been the victims of pro governance and certainly not Tspiras who followed his mandate. Certainly not the debtors who might see nothing of their investments. What needs to happen is a sensible restructuring of Greece’s debts, with some of it being written-off, if necessary. It needs the EU and IMF to look beyond just money and think about real people.
If Tsipras caves in, then surely his Syriza government is a goner? What credibility will remain? What was the point in the Greek people electing a government opposed to austerity if it then imposed it on the very poorest and most vulnerable people? He would bounced out of power and lord alone knows what would happen in its place. Surely not a return to the corrupt and discredited leaders of the past who got the country into a mess in the first place. Golden Dawn, perhaps? Right wing parties only emerge at times of crisis. Who is to say a country in desperate needs might seek desperate solutions?
Compromise is the only way. Not the bully boy tactics of the rich and powerful which we are getting all too often these days from Germany. The Greek people must feel like they are on their own now, with governments from all over Europe ganging up on them, but a lot of people, people like me who are not radical ultra left wingers, sympathise greatly with what is happening. It isn’t right and I hope Tsipras stands his ground. I don’t think he has a choice.