German corporations exploiting Greece

This video from France says about itself:

Has Merkel “gambled away” Germany’s reputation over Greece?

20 July 2015

Jürgen Habermas, one of the most influential contemporary European intellectuals and a figurehead of European integration, says half a century of political capital has been squandered by Germany in its ‘punishment’ of Greece. We take a look at this and other reactions to the Greek crisis in tonight’s Mediawatch.

By Verena Nees in Germany:

Television programme shows how German companies benefit from privatisation in Greece

30 July 2015

The latest EU austerity measures have nothing to do with a Greek bailout, as is being universally claimed in the press. In truth, it is about increasing the profits of the German corporate and financial elite. Greece is to be plundered and exploited in the interests of the largest European powers, and especially Germany.

This was one of the key statements in the last edition of the German television program “Monitor” broadcast July 23. Broadcast the day after the adoption of the latest EU agreement by the Greek parliament, the programme took a critical look at the German government’s Greek policy.

The broadcast critically examined the 900-page austerity bill introduced into the Greek parliament by Syriza at the behest of the EU, and interviewed foreign journalists who commented on the return of the “German question” and the “nasty Germans”. In addition, there was a section dealing with the significance of the establishment of a Trust Fund (Treuhand). This is the centrepiece of the EU’s new austerity programme for Greece enforced by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble and Chancellor Angela Merkel. The Trust Fund would be mainly under European supervision and thus under German control. Greece must transfer its state-owned assets to the fund, which aims to raise 50 billion euros with privatizations, including airports and ports, postal services, railways, highways, electricity, gas and water supply, buildings, beaches, even whole islands and much more.

At the European Union (EU) summit in mid-July, Schäuble rejected the offer by Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras, coordinated with France and the IMF, to pay 500 million euros into the fund each year raised through privatizations. According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung of July 14, Schäuble left the negotiations “for the umpteenth time” and then boasted before the media of his intransigence, “I said 50 billion, 50 billion!”

The claim that this money should pay off Greece’s debt and get its banks and economy back on track was refuted by “Monitor”. Under the headline, “Billion-euro deals with Greece: Who profits from privatization?” the programme reported the example of Fraport, the Frankfurt Airport company. Already last year, Fraport had applied for operator licenses at Greek airports, and especially those on the main tourist islands, and was awarded the contract. The deal, however, was initially frozen following Syriza coming to power in January.

But the surrender of the Syriza government to the EU has now given Fraport free rein. Using the Trust Fund, Fraport wants to take over the 14 most lucrative airports, including the crown jewels on tourist islands such as Rhodes, Mykonos, Santorini and Corfu, running them for at least 40 years, and all for only 1.23 billion euros and an annual fee of 22.9 million euros. The other 30 airports, which need to be subsidized, would remain with the Greek government. “This is a model that has not been applied yet anywhere in Europe. This fits more with being a colony than an EU member state,” commented Greek Minister of Infrastructure Christos Spirtzis on the broadcast.

Corfu Mayor Kostas Nikolouzos, whose airport enjoys a large turnover due to the crowds of tourists coming to the island, complained in an interview that the country was being “robbed of the means” to repay its debts. State-owned companies and facilities were being “hawked off far below their value”, a representative of the German Institute for Economic Research warned. This would cause trouble for future Greek governments, he said.

In return, German companies, such as Fraport, could expect big profits, as the figures show. The number of flights to the coveted Greek airports rose in the last year by over 188,000, an increase of 13.8 percent, and the number of passengers increased by 19 percent to more than 22 million, about one-third of the volume at Fraport’s home airport in Frankfurt.

Lufthansa Consulting belongs to the Greek Trust Fund’s advisory team, and is familiar with the economic data of the airports. They confirmed that although the figures were confidential, Fraport could “certainly assume a lucrative business”. The conclusion of the programme was that the Trust Fund will be used to broker profitable businesses for a German company, which, moreover, is majority state owned, namely by the City of Frankfurt and the federal state of Hesse. The proceeds of privatization will flow into German state coffers—at the expense of the Greek state.

The true intentions of Germany’s Greece policy have also become clear in other media reports. Following the capitulation of Syriza, and after weeks of campaigning against “the Greeks”, whose racist tone fatally recalls the period Greece was occupied by the Nazis, some business editors have begun to lay out the bargains the German corporate and financial elite might hope for in Greece.

Leading German business daily Handelsblatt also reported on the Fraport deal, and wrote that the state of Hesse was now organizing “political support for the Greek deals in Brussels. In the past week, state premier Volker Bouffier (Christian Democrat) visited the Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.” On July 21, Handelsblatt published an article under the cynical headline, “Summer Sale in Athens”, listing possible sales objects, including numerous Greek islands. Fabulous travel photos taken from Private Islands Online depicted “the eleven best islands” that are on sale. The caption reads, “Experts forecast Greek islands will sell out in the coming years.”

On July 13, the German Economic News website wrote that Schäuble’s Trust Fund proposal mainly had met with outrage and resistance because the original plan envisaged it being integrated into Germany’s KfW Bank. According to the report, “The Trust Fund proposed by Wolfgang Schäuble, into which Greek state-owned property would be transferred, has caused uproar throughout Europe. The fund is in fact a 100 percent subsidiary of the German state bank KfW.”

When questioned, the Head of the Economic and Commercial Section of the Greek Embassy, Christos Dokomes, said that was not entirely correct. Whereas there was co-operation with the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), it was agreed that the Trust Fund would have its headquarters in Athens, would be managed by the Greek government, and be supervised by the European institutions.

What is clear is that Schäuble and the German government will use the Trust Fund to exploit Greece like a protectorate with limited sovereignty. The extortion of the Greek population goes even further than what was organised using the Treuhand following German unification in 1990. At that time, the Treuhand was used to privatise or close down state-owned businesses and facilities in the former East Germany, with Western investors picking up bargains at knock-down prices and masses of workers being made unemployed.

Today, the Trust Fund will create even greater unemployment in Greece. The latest edition of news weekly Der Spiegel states, “The [German] government considers it imperative that many Greek citizens lose their jobs under the third aid package.” The article is headlined, “Greece—more unemployed”, and cites the Parliamentary State Secretary Jens Spahn (Christian Democrat) listing which reforms “must be especially adopted in the Greek labour market”, namely, “mass layoffs according to the timetable agreed with the Institutions”.

24 thoughts on “German corporations exploiting Greece

  1. Pingback: German corporations exploiting Greece | Dear Kitty. Some blog | sdbast

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  3. Wednesday 19th August 2015

    posted by Morning Star in World

    by Our Foreign Desk

    GREECE’S Syriza government has announced that it has contracted out the running of 14 regional airports to a German company.

    The decision, published in the government gazette overnight on Monday, would hand over the airports to Fraport AG, which runs Frankfurt Airport among others across the world — including several on popular tourist island destinations.

    The €1.23 billion (£870 million) sell-off is the first privatisation decision taken by the government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who was elected in January on an anti-austerity manifesto.

    The government had initially vowed to cancel the country’s privatisation programme, but Tsipras has been forced to renege on his pre-election promises in return for a new €86bn (£61bn) bailout from international creditors.

    The prime minister is widely expected to call a confidence vote in his government this week, after dozens of Syriza MPs voted against the bailout deal in parliament last Friday.

    In a separate move, the government slightly relaxed its restrictions on banking transactions, allowing small amounts to be sent abroad for the first time in about two months.

    The finance ministry’s amendments, also published in the government gazette, include allowing Greeks to send up to €500 (£350) abroad per person per month, and allowing up to €8,000 (£5,600) per quarter to be sent to students studying abroad to cover accommodation costs.

    Greeks can now also open new bank accounts that will have no withdrawal rights, in order to repay loans, social security contributions or tax debts.


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  12. Monday 14th December 2015

    posted by Morning Star in Features

    FAWZI IBRAHIM from Trade Unionists Against the EU, reports back from an international fact-finding delegation to Greece

    THE abiding memory of the four days the international fact-finding delegation spent in Greece is the anger, frustration and exhaustion etched on the faces of everyone we talked to as they outlined the effects of five years of austerity measures.

    Neither could we escape the defiance and determination of everyone to do something about it.

    Flanked by another doctor and three nurses, the chief consultant of Naflio hospital, a small hospital in the north-east of Peloponnesus, described the situation in Greece as tragic.

    “When it comes to the health service, it is 10 times more tragic. They are destroying the right to healthcare in the country of the oath of Hippocrates.”

    In Naflio, hospital operations can only be carried out in the morning for lack of nurses.

    “This hospital has 120 beds but only 35 nurses. Before the first memorandum we had twice the number of nurses.

    The accepted norm in an operating theatre is three nurses, here, we work with two. The shortages of staff mean that our working day may extend to 16 hours.”

    A similar situation exists in other hospitals. In Gennimatas hospital in Athens, the biggest in the country, a nurse and a young house doctor told us of the loss of 620 posts out of 1,200 staff since the first Greek bailout package and how the new casual contracts added to the uncertainty of staffing levels at all departments.

    The situation got worse as local clinics were closed, resulting in a 25 per cent increase in hospital attendances.

    In the whole of Greece, 25,000 posts are vacant and 13 hospitals have been closed while at the same time dismissed doctors, nurses and other health professionals sit at home twiddling their thumbs.

    In a nation of 11 million, 15,000 public-sector workers — mostly teachers and municipal employees — were laid off by the end of 2014.

    For schools this meant class sizes going up from 25 to 30 and the loss of special needs tutors, with teachers having to do the work that was carried out by administrative staff who have been dismissed.

    Add to that the rise in VAT to 23 per cent, 20 per cent cuts in public-sector wages, reduced pensions of up to 40 per cent and you get mega-austerity — austerity on an industrial scale.

    All of this in the name of paying back the national debt, which as everyone we met said, Greece cannot pay back because “we have no money.”

    As for the bailouts, 90 per cent of the billions of euros “handed over to Greece” bypass the government and go straight to the banks which triggered the crisis in the first place.

    There was general agreement that there is no popular support for an exit from either the euro or the EU. This was based on hard-headed analysis of the economic and geopolitical situation in which Greece finds itself.

    The textbook answer that you need a revolution to leave the EU, as some left organisations argue, only begs the question whether Greece can survive outside the EU.

    As was explained to the delegation, the Greek economy depends on agriculture and tourism. Both are being undermined, the first through the takeover of smallholdings by big agricultural corporations and the second through the erosion of local amenities and services such as health and waste disposal — so important for the tourists who come to Greece.

    It soon became clear to the delegation that if Greece is to survive as a sovereign nation with its own currency, it can only do so among friendly neighbours who are not beholden to the EU — in other words, the EU must be weakened, if not dismantled altogether.

    If the EU is treating Greece with such harshness and contempt while it remains a member, can you imagine the hostility it will face if it exits?

    Can you imagine the scale of the revenge that the EU will want to exact if Greece leaves?

    Add to that the fact that half of Greece’s reserves in gold are held in London, which the EU Commission regards as collateral for the national debt, and the impossible situation Greece would face outside the EU would be only too apparent.

    And what about the conundrum of the referendum and the metamorphosis of an overwhelming No into an emphatic Yes?

    Why, the delegation asked, hadn’t Syntagma Square and other squares been occupied in protest against that “betrayal”?

    Some blamed “leaders” for failing to call strikes and demonstrations, but that does not suffice if one considers that the “occupation of the squares” in October 2011, which was leaderless, attracted one million people.

    The the Communist Party of Greece correctly analysed the referendum as a device to bring in another memorandum and therefore called for “neither a Yes nor a No” vote, but it completely misread the public mood for an expression of defiance.

    The more Angela Merkel, Jean Claude Junker and other EU leaders warned that a No vote means an exit from the eurozone, the greater became the determination to vote No just to spite them.

    At the end, 62 per cent voted No to the third memorandum. Two days later, parliament endorsed a harsher third memorandum.

    Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras said that had he not signed there would have been a civil war. There were signs of a counter-revolution when pro-EU demonstrators gathered outside parliament the day before the referendum.

    At an open-air meeting in the small town of Kranidi, population 4,000, in the Peloponnesus region, attended by the town’s councillor and other workers, some accompanied by their children, the delegation heard how following the fatal shooting of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos by the police in Athens in December 2008, the town’s square was occupied, the first time that has happened.

    But things are quiet now following the debacle on the referendum. In the army, as it is in agriculture, you must have rotation. The same applies in struggle.

    For small Greece to take on the EU would be suicidal for the Greeks and detrimental to the fight against EU-enforced austerity.

    A chef summed up the message we were hearing throughout our stay in Greece: “We don’t need sympathy or words of solidarity, as welcome as these are.

    “We want real practical support. We are a small country, not like France or Britain — it is over to the big battalions now. For the British, the best thing you can do to help us is to vote to leave in your referendum.”,-vote-to-leave-the-EU,-say-Greek-trade-unionists#.Vm8JBb_TcdU


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