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By Ulrich Rippert in Germany:
German finance minister threatens Greek voters
13 June 2012
“There is no easy way”, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (Christian Democratic Union) told the press earlier this week. Social cuts and public sector layoffs dictated by the EU and Berlin—euphemistically labeled “adaptation measures”—are essential and non-negotiable, Schäuble declared, whatever way the electorate votes.
He was even more explicit in a television interview on Saturday evening. Greece must comply with the terms of the EU “irrespective of who the Greeks vote for”, he said.
Earlier this year Schäuble sharply criticized the decision of the Greek government to hold new elections, and spoke of “elections at the wrong time”. Only after the cuts had been enforced could one talk about elections.
When new elections were then scheduled, Schäuble demanded that all parties underwrite a declaration that they would adhere in full to the prescribed program of cuts after the election. He made the payment of the next tranche of the euro rescue fund dependent on this condition, and blackmailed the parties with the threat of national bankruptcy.
Now, Schäuble says, the Greek people can vote how they like, the electoral result and the composition of a new government will have no effect on policy in Athens. There are only two possibilities: either Greece stays in the EU and in the euro zone, accepting that all important decisions will be taken in Brussels and Berlin; or Greece leaves the euro, resulting in a national bankruptcy with equally disastrous economic and social consequences.
Schäuble is a lawyer and held the post of Interior Minister from 1989 to 1998 and from 2005 to 2009 with responsibility for assuring adherence to the German Constitution, which declares that all government authority emanates from the people. In Greece, this basic democratic principle is now being abolished under German pressure.
As Interior Minister in 1990, Schäuble also played a leading role in winding up the former East Germany. At that time he never tired of complaining that there had been no free elections in the GDR, and that the “people could vote for who they wanted without any real political change taking place”. How does this differ from Greece today?
The only difference is that workers in the GDR had social rights which Greek workers either never had or have lost due to Schäuble’s own initiatives.
Schäuble’s threat that the Greek people can only choose between a rock and a hard place—poverty dictated by Brussels and Berlin or state bankruptcy—shows how aggressively German imperialism is using the economic crisis to enforce its hegemony in Europe.
A few weeks ago the chairman of the conservative parliamentary group, Volker Kauder, declared that Europe would “once again speak German”. By “again”, he apparently meant the years before 1945, when German soldiers destroyed half of Europe.
Conditions in Greece now make it clear how this history is relevant today. The massive cuts in social services, attacks on democratic rights, and the enormous redistribution of wealth from the bottom to the top have produced a social retrogression unprecedented in Greece since the Nazi occupation. …
That is why it is so important to go on the offensive against the attacks launched by Schäuble and defend all social and democratic rights. Such a struggle would send a powerful signal to workers in Athens and Thessaloniki.
By Jordan Shilton:
Greece: Fascists step up assaults on political opponents and migrants
13 June 2012
The assault launched by the spokesman of Greece’s neo-fascist Golden Dawn against two political rivals on live television must be taken as a warning to working people. Especially in a country with a history of military dictatorship, the emergence of such far-right violence points to the threat of a turn to openly authoritarian forms of rule.
Cyprus is set to be the fifth of the 17 euro area countries to apply for money from the European bailout fund: here.