Greek Fire: We are at a crucial moment in European history. Please light a candle today
Monday, 13 July, 2015
Dear friends of Greece, Europe and democracy,
We are at a crucial moment in European history. Please, light a candle today and dance, if you can, for solidarity with Greece and a European culture of democracy and peace.
Shocking demands are coming from the record-breaking all-night EU summit – still ongoing as I write – which is attempting to impose unbelievably harsh measures on Greece.
As the Guardian reports today,
'Anger at the incredibly draconian demands being placed on Greece with this new bailout offer have sparked a social media campaign, #thisisacoup, against Germany and its finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble. The campaign has been supported by many, including nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman, who lambasted the summit developments in his column at the New York Times.'
Paul Krugman writes,
'This Eurogroup list of demands is madness. The trending hashtag ThisIsACoup is exactly right. This goes beyond harsh into pure vindictiveness, complete destruction of national sovereignty, and no hope of relief. It is, presumably, meant to be an offer Greece can’t accept; but even so, it’s a grotesque betrayal of everything the European project was supposed to stand for.'
Killing the European Project: http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/?_r=1
Larry Elliot sums up the list of new demands:
'The conditions being attached to a third Greek bailout are beyond harsh: tax increases, pension reforms, privatisation and spending cuts previously rejected by Athens, all overseen by the troika of the European Central Bank, the European commission and the International Monetary Fund. Athens would have to hand over €50bn of assets to the eurozone that would be sold off over time. From now on, the Greek budget will have to be approved in Berlin. A country that has seen its economy shrink by 25% has been condemned to shrink some more. A humanitarian crisis looms.'
'The terms are much stiffer than those imposed by the creditors over the past five years. This, said the senior official, was payback for the emphatic no to the creditors’ terms delivered by the snap referendum that Tsipras staged a week ago.'
So, Greeks impoverished by five years of merciless austerity, now without jobs, pensions, health care, education or even shelter, all of whom are not responsible for the debt, dared to vote 'NO' to further austerity in the historic referendum of July 5th. It's not that nobody was listening. It's worse: they are now being punished even more brutally for daring to speak up and say, 'no more.'
The Eurogroup is also demanding that the politically neutral state-run broadcaster ERT be shut down, leaving only private television companies long in the pockets of right-wing political parties on air.
Is this our Europe?
The Thomas Piketty interview I sent you last week (here is a new link for the English translation) makes the key point that Germany, which never repaid its war debts, has no right to lecture Greece about repayment of unsustainable debt:
The original German article is here:
In any case, as Jeffrey Sachs states, 'As with Germany in 1953, the real issue is Greece’s need for debt relief, not whether it is deserved.'
Jeffrey Sachs, Let Greece profit from German history:http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jan/21/greece-profit-german-history-1953-debt-relief
Please remember these essential facts: The original Greek 'bailout' loans only bailed out the banks. Austerity in Greece has brutally punished ordinary people and the poorest of the poor, not those who responsible for getting Greece into the debt mess in the first place. Those responsible – the crooked politicians of previous Greek governments who stole public money and signed the country up to the previous crippling bailout loans – are not suffering; in fact, they continue to profit from the crisis. The Syriza government was elected with the stated intention of ending corruption and tax avoidance, yet it has been met with contempt, not cooperation, by EU officials, who have barely disguised their aim to overthrow Syriza and replace it with the same corrupt politicians who held power before.
Suzanne Moore states:
'If the European project that once seemed so noble now comes down to the European Central Bank, which is not in any way independent but acts as a thuggish bailiff to further impoverish Greece, what actually is it? If Germans believe they should not have to pay for the mistakes of Greek governments, then they do not see the crisis of Greece for what it is: a crisis of all Europe. Bailouts have been funded for the financial sector since 2008. To simply blame Greece is unsustainable.'
Please, I encourage you to stay awake, stay aware, look behind the veil of mainstream media, and send your thoughts and prayers for a peaceful solution to this moment of crisis.
With love and blessings for the cradle of democracy,
Austerity Has Failed: An Open Letter From Thomas Piketty to Angela Merkel
Katrina van den Heuvel: Will Europe’s leaders come to their senses about Greece?
Bernie Sanders, Joe Stiglitz, and Dan Cantor on the necessity of voting “no” to austerity measures. By John Nichols
Jasmine Coleman: Greek debt crisis triggers memories of World War Two
Greek debt crisis: 'Of all the damage, healthcare has been hit the worst'
9 myths about the Greek crisis
Greece is the latest battleground in the financial elite’s war on democracy
Are Greeks the hardest workers in Europe?
Want to help Greece? Go there on holiday
To this last invitation, I add my own voice and encourage you to visit Greece this summer if you can. You will find that the ancient tradition of hospitality towards foreigners remains a sacred trust in this country, and you will receive a warm and genuine welcome wherever you go in Greece, whatever your country of origin. This is only one of many aspects of Greek society from which we non-Greeks can learn.