See also here.
This qw8 May 2014 video is called Greece in Poverty – No Money, No Jobs, No Hope.
By Millie Slavidou in Greece:
Greece in Crisis: the Human Face
8 July 2015
As the crisis in Greece deepens, the politicians and commentators barter on, their conversation full of big themes, fancy economic terms and self importance. There is often little mention of the ‘ordinary’ Greek people who continue to try to live their lives with dignity. In this piece, writer Millie Slavidou and a resident of Greece, talks about the human cost of austerity.
As I sat down to write about what life is like in Greece through the recession and the crisis, I wondered where to start. Should I begin by mentioning the people who wait until it is dark before venturing out to rummage through the bins, in an attempt to preserve their dignity, hoping that they won’t be spotted by someone they know? Or maybe I should start with the suicides, the 10,000 and more people who lost hope. Everyone knows someone who has been affected – who has lost a family member, a friend, a former colleague. Someone.
I live in northeastern Greece, on the mainland. You might think that this place, far from Athens, Thessaloniki and the large urban areas, would be less hit by the crisis. And indeed, it is true that there are more people here able to grow their own fruit and vegetables or have some space to keep chickens. But by no means all people, of course.
Here, if you walk through what was a thriving town centre just five years ago, you will see the results of the crisis. The empty businesses, closed and shuttered. The shop on the corner that used to be a bakery, selling delicious, freshly baked bread. Now its empty windows and peeling “TO LET” sign add their silent testimony to the toll taken by austerity. Next to it was once a bookshop, further along a former clothes shop. Each one represents a family, now left with no income.
People in other countries wonder why Greece voted NO in the referendum. But they do not see the people who have been left with no hope. Austerity gets worse and worse every year, with no end and no hope in sight. Only higher taxes and more and more measures to be taken, on and on and on, never ending. They do not see the woman who sleeps on her sister’s sofa, as she has nowhere else to go. The extended families all crowding in together to try and make ends meet. The seven people living in a 2 bedroom flat nearby. They do not see children disappearing from their children’s classes, as, one by one, their parents leave in search of greener pastures. They do not see the huge lists of materials handed to parents at the start of term, shopping lists of things we are required to provide for our children’s education, from paper and pens to books for the school library, and in some cases even toilet paper and cleaning products.
Life under austerity hits the most vulnerable in society. Pensions have been slashed, 40% gone. But another group is rarely talked about – people with special needs. Before the crisis, we had some savings. A small amount of money we had managed to put away, to help us out should we need it. But then my son was born with special needs. He required physiotherapy – and it was not covered by the state. We reached into our savings. Then he needed occupational therapy. Again, the state did not provide. Now my son has speech therapy, and there are no more savings left. Some health care professionals have told me that my son really could have benefitted from more occupational therapy, but they do not ask me why he stopped. They know. They understand.
Depression has hit Greece in both senses of the word. The economy is sinking like a stone, and people’s morale is going down with it. But who can afford to seek professional help?
Now the banks are closed. This is not just a matter of ATMs and dispensing ready cash. Yes, of course I can go and wait in a queue at an ATM, however difficult that might be with my children. But I cannot arrange to be paid for work I do and send via the internet to other countries, as other banks are not making international transactions with banks in Greece at this time. So there would be little point in my queueing up, to withdraw from an empty account, while I wait for people to be able to pay me for work I have done. I have not paid the bill sent by my internet provider, as we feel compelled to keep any money for buying food. But this could affect my future ability to work, if they decide to cut off our connection.
To say that we are worried would be a gross understatement
Millie Slavidou is an author of the ‘Insta-Explorer’ children’s books, a writer and translator.
From the Financial Times in Britain:
Greek cleaners swept out of work after Tsipras U-turn
16 July 2015
For Vagelis Alexiou, the socialist revolution led by Alexis Tsipras lasted just 12 wonderful days.
Turfed out of his job as a cleaner in Greece’s ministry of finance two and a half years ago by a cost-cutting government following orders from the country’s creditors, Mr Alexiou was reinstated on July 1 by a decree passed by Mr Tsipras’ ruling leftwing Syriza party.
But the Greek prime minister’s defiance, and Mr Alexiou’s wish to return to his job mopping the floors of the ministry, ended on Monday as Athens capitulated to creditors’ demands for further austerity and economic reform in exchange for a desperately needed €86bn bailout.
“I wish Mr Tsipras had said no to Brussels,” says Mr Alexiou, sitting outside the ministry in central Athens, his hope of being rehired now in tatters. “I hope we can still trust him. He wants to help the workers, the poor people . . . but the creditors will not let him.”
The witch-hunt against former Syriza finance minister Yanis Varoufakis by various right-wing forces has intensified after Greece’s senior state prosecutor, Efterpi Koutzamani, ordered parliament to examine a swathe of complaints against him: here.
In the first article of a series on how the European Union operates, JOHN BOYD looks at the role of the European Commission: here.
This 12 December 2011 Amnesty International video says about itself:
Amnesty International Greetings Card Campaign 2011 – Write for Rights ~ Manolis Kypreos ~ Together We Are Powerful
Support Manolis Kypreos.
Demand Justice for Manolis Kypreos
Police repeatedly attacked Mr Kypreos, including with a stun grenade at close range which caused him to become deaf.
This video says about itself:
Greece: Drone footage shows thousands in anti-austerity protest on Syntagma Square
29 June 2015
A drone’s eye captured thousands upon thousands swarming Syntagma Square in Athens, Monday, to protest against further austerity measures and to encourage people for a ‘no’ vote in the upcoming referendum on Sunday – which gives the Greek people the right to choose whether to accept the bailout conditions of the institutions.
This blog post, saved from my blog.co.uk blog, shows part of how austerity was enforced by a previous Greek government in 2011.
From daily News Line in Britain, 26 November 2011:
The Athens State Prosecutor ordered that 13 trade unionists, a pensioner and an unemployed worker who were arrested by riot police last Thursday morning are to stand trial on November 30 accused of “disruption”, “resistance to the police” and “causing bodily harm”.
Among them is the president of the Greek Electricity Board (DEH) trade union Nikos Fotopoulos …
Massages of support can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
See also here.
Greek workers on strike: here.
This video from England says about itself:
Tony Benn on the Future of Democracy
Lifelong socialist and former Labor Party MP Tony Benn talked with GRITtv‘s Laura Flanders in February 2013, about the future, the European Union, Democracy, David Cameron and Occupy. Benn passed away March 15, 2014, at the age of 88. This interview was recorded almost exactly a year earlier, in his flat, in London.
By Owen Jones in daily The Guardian in Britain:
The left must now campaign to leave the EU – the case is undeniable
Progressives should be appalled by European Union’s ruination of Greece. It’s time to reclaim the Eurosceptic cause
Tuesday 14 July 2015 20.29 BST
At first, only a few dipped their toes in the water; then others, hesitantly, followed their lead, all the time looking at each other for reassurance. As austerity-ravaged Greece was placed under what Yanis Varoufakis terms a “postmodern occupation”, its sovereignty overturned and compelled to implement more of the policies that have achieved nothing but economic ruin, Britain’s left is turning against the European Union, and fast.
“Everything good about the EU is in retreat; everything bad is on the rampage,” writes George Monbiot, explaining his about-turn. “All my life I’ve been pro-Europe,” says Caitlin Moran, “but seeing how Germany is treating Greece, I am finding it increasingly distasteful.” Nick Cohen believes the EU is being portrayed “with some truth, as a cruel, fanatical and stupid institution”. “How can the left support what is being done?” asks Suzanne Moore. “The European ‘Union’. Not in my name.” There are senior Labour figures in Westminster and Holyrood privately moving to an “out” position too.
The list goes on, and it is growing. The more leftwing opponents of the EU come out, the more momentum will gather pace and gain critical mass. For those of us on the left who have always been critical of the EU, it has felt like a lonely crusade. But left support for withdrawal – “Lexit”, if you like – is not new. If anything, this new wave of left Euroscepticism represents a reawakening. Much of the left campaigned against entering the European Economic Community when Margaret Thatcher and the like campaigned for membership.
It would threaten the ability of leftwing governments to implement policies, people like my parents thought, and would forbid the sort of industrial activism needed to protect domestic industries. But then Thatcherism happened, and an increasingly battered and demoralised left began to believe that the only hope of progressive legislation was via Brussels. The misery of the left was, in the 1980s, matched by the triumphalism of the free marketeers, who had transformed Britain beyond many of their wildest ambitions, and began to balk at the restraints put on their dreams by the European project.
The left’s pessimism about the possibility of implementing social reform at home without the help of the EU fused with a progressive vision of internationalism and unity, one that had emerged from the rubble of fascism and genocidal war. It is perhaps this feelgood halo that has been extinguished by a country the EU has driven into an economic collapse unseen since America’s great depression. It was German and French banks who recklessly lent to Greece that have benefited from bailouts, not the Greek economy. The destruction of Greece’s national sovereignty was achieved by economic strangulation, and treatment dealt out to Alexis Tsipras likened to “extensive mental waterboarding”. Slovakia’s deputy prime minister, Peter Kažimír, may have deleted his tweet calling this modern-day Versailles “the results of their ‘Greek Spring’”, but he is right: this was all about crushing a rebellion.
Ugly indeed. As the former European commission adviser Philippe Legrain puts it, “Germany is proving to be a calamitous hegemon,” overruling even France’s objections.
The euro suits Germany, of course, as a weak euro is good for its exports and prevents poorer EU countries getting a competitive edge. But look at how the EU has operated. It has driven elected governments – however unsavoury, like Silvio Berlusconi’s – from office. Ireland and Portugal were also blackmailed. The 2011 treaty effectively banned Keynesian economics in the eurozone.
But even outside the eurozone, our democracy is threatened. The Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership (TTIP), typically negotiated by the EU in secret with corporate interests, threatens a race to the-bottom in environmental and other standards. Even more ominously, it would give large corporations the ability to sue elected governments to try to stop them introducing policies that supposedly hit their profit margins, whatever their democratic mandate. It would clear the way to not only expand the privatisation of our NHS, but make it irreversible too. Royal Mail may have been privatised by the Tories, but it was the EU that began the process by enforcing the liberalisation of the natural monopoly of postal services. Want to nationalise the railways? That means you have to not only overcome European commission rail directive 91/440/EEC, but potentially the proposed Fourth Railway Package too.
Other treaties and directives enforce free market policies based on privatisation and marketisation of our public services and utilities. David Cameron is now proposing a renegotiation that will strip away many of the remaining “good bits” of the EU, particularly opting out of employment protection rules. Yet he depends on the left to campaign for and support his new package, which will be to stay in an increasingly pro-corporate EU shorn of pro-worker trappings. Can we honestly endorse that?
Let’s just be honest about our fears. We fear that we will inadvertently line up with the xenophobes and the immigrant-bashing nationalists, and a “no” result will be seen as their vindication, unleashing a carnival of Ukippery. Hostility to the EU is seen as the preserve of the hard right, and not the sort of thing progressives should entertain. And that is why – if indeed much of the left decides on Lexit – it must run its own separate campaign and try and win ownership of the issue.
Such a campaign would focus on building a new Britain, one of workers’ rights, a genuine living wage, public ownership, industrial activism and tax justice. Such a populist campaign could help the left reconnect with working-class communities it lost touch with long ago. My fear otherwise is a repetition of the Scottish referendum: but this time, instead of the progressive SNP as the beneficiaries, with Ukip mopping up in working-class communities as big businesses issue chilling threats about the risks of voting the wrong way. Without a prominent Left Out campaign, Ukip could displace Labour right across northern England. That would be the real vindication of Ukippery.
Lexit may be seen as a betrayal of solidarity with the left in the EU: Syriza and Podemos in Spain are trying to change the institution, after all, not leave it. Syriza’s experience illustrates just how forlorn that cause is. But in any case, the threat of Brexit would help them. Germany has little incentive to change tack: it benefits enormously from the current arrangements. If its behaviour is seen to be causing the break-up of the EU, it will strengthen the hand of those opposing the status quo. The case for Lexit grows ever stronger, and – at the very least – more of us need to start dipping our toes in the water.
Berlin’s threat to unilaterally expel Greece from the eurozone, as it dictated harsh austerity policies to the country, has brought to the surface fundamental conflicts between the major European powers underlying the euro crisis. Greece and the Greek working class are first in the line of fire of the cuts now being arranged by the European Union (EU). As the unfolding of the July 11-12 talks on the EU bailout of Greece made clear, however, Berlin’s aggressive bid to establish its hegemony over Europe involves a far wider range of targets—including prominently France, the second largest eurozone economy after Germany: here.
This video says about itself:
Friday, July 3rd, 2015 Syntagma- Athens, Greece
The Greek people demostrate against austerity measures which have been forced upon them for the last 6 years by peacefully coming together to say NO, against more austerity measures, in a bid to reform the political system of the Eurozone.
By the Partei für Soziale Gleichheit (PSG—Socialist Equality Party) in Germany:
Defend the Greek workers! Oppose the diktat of Schäuble and Merkel!
14 July 2015
The Partei für Soziale Gleichheit (PSG—Socialist Equality Party) denounces the agreement forced on Greece by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble at Sunday’s euro group summit. We call upon workers in Germany and throughout Europe to declare their solidarity with the workers in Greece and organize mass resistance to the policies of the German government.
The new austerity demands, to which the government of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras capitulated on Monday morning, go far beyond the measures the Greek population rejected, by a large majority, in the referendum held just one week before. For millions of Greeks, the implementation of these measures means poverty, unemployment, disease and even death. Greece will be transformed into a de facto protectorate of Germany and the most powerful European financial interests.
The troika (European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund) is returning to Athens and will dictate government policy. The role of parliament is to be reduced to rubber-stamping austerity measures and signing off on automatic budget cuts. State property valued at €50 billion will be transferred to a fund, to be sold off to the highest bidder, modeled on the Treuhandanstalt, set up in 1990 to liquidate state property in East Germany.
The agreement amounts to a carte blanche for the ruthless exploitation and plundering of the Greek working class.
Even establishment commentators could not overlook the agreement’s undemocratic character. In the Financial Times, Wolfgang Münchau accused Greece’s creditors of reverting to “the nationalist European power struggles of the 19th and early 20th century” and transforming the euro zone into a system “run in the interests of Germany” and “held together by the threat of absolute destitution for those who challenge the prevailing order.”
The brutal actions of Schäuble and Merkel recall the darkest chapter in German history. Less than seventy-five years have passed since Hitler’s Wehrmacht occupied Greece, established a brutal regime of terror, and ruthlessly plundered the country. The imposition of high occupation costs, the export of virtually all of Greece’s industrial goods, and the theft of machinery and vehicles led to a famine that took the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
The Wehrmacht responded to resistance from partisan fighters by massacring the inhabitants of numerous villages, including Distomo, Lingiades and Kommeno. At least 30,000 civilians fell victim to these reprisals. Eight thousand Jews were deported and murdered, and the Jewish community in Thessaloniki, one of the world’s oldest, was completely wiped out. None of the victims were ever compensated, and virtually none of the perpetrators were punished.
Schäuble and Merkel are now walking in the footsteps of their predecessors. The German ruling class is spewing forth all the undigested filth of the past. Their arrogance suggests that they see themselves, once again, as Europe’s master race.
The politicians are supported by a spineless press, for which no cliché or prejudice is too cheap to be hurled at the Greek people. The media spread propaganda and do everything in their power to confuse and mislead the public.
The government also relies on historians such as Jörg Baberowski of Humboldt University, who falsifies history to trivialise German crimes in World War II. It is backed by economists, who declare the impoverishment of the Greek working class a historical necessity, and political scientists, such as Herfried Münkler, who formulates the political arguments for German hegemony in Europe.
All of the parties represented in the German parliament support the government. The Social Democratic (SPD) chairman Sigmar Gabriel has led the way, seeking to outdo Schäuble and Merkel from the right.
They are all convinced that history has been forgotten. But they are deceiving themselves. The working class of Greece, Germany and Europe cannot and will not allow them to repeat Germany’s historic crimes.
The German government is pursuing two goals in its aggressive actions in Greece. It intends to set an example to intimidate all resistance to its austerity course in Europe and Germany. And it seeks to strengthen its hegemonic domination of Europe.
By the time of the 2008 financial crisis, the government had decided that Germany could no longer maintain its dominance through compromises and financial assistance. Germany had to become, in the words of Münkler, Europe’s “taskmaster,” instead of its “paymaster.” Early last year, leading government officials demanded that Germany play a role in Europe and the world that corresponded to its actual influence.
This new great power politics was first tested out in Ukraine, where the German government backed the pro-Western coup that has driven the country to civil war and brought NATO to the brink of a military confrontation with nuclear-armed Russia. These same policies are being continued in what amounts to a civilian coup in Athens.
The face of the European Union has been transformed in the process. It is becoming ever more obvious that the EU is not a mechanism for the peaceful coexistence of Europe’s peoples, but rather an instrument for the predominance of the most powerful imperialist powers and the ruthless exploitation of the working class. Masses of people now view the EU with a mixture of disgust and hatred.
The more openly Germany uses the EU to attain the position of a world power, the more intense the national conflicts within Europe become—above all between Germany and France. Prior to Sunday’s summit there were sharp exchanges between Berlin and Paris, which, due to domestic political considerations, was favoring a more conciliatory course towards Greece. The French government eventually submitted to Germany’s dictates because it fears the threat from its own working class much more than it fears German hegemony. These tensions, however, will flare up again, as will the developing conflict between the US and Germany over who will control Europe.
It is the task of the working class in Germany and throughout Europe to oppose these dangerous actions, which threaten to plunge the working class into desperate poverty, and the continent, once again, into war and dictatorship.
Wedneday 15 July 2015, 19:30 Heuvel square, Tilburg, the Netherlands: there will be a solidarity demonstration with the Greek people.
IMF: EUROZONE MUST HELP GREECE PAY OFF DEBTS The International Monetary Fund argues that unless eurozone leaders provide massive debt relief for Greece, the euro will cease to work. [NYT]