[Marxism] Tsipras speaks to European parliament; E'zone financial negotiations; some of difficulties, issues in Greece

Dayne Goodwin daynegoodwin at gmail.com
Wed Jul 8 04:51:33 MDT 2015

The Greek Prime Minister’s Speech in the European Parliament
by Philip Chrysopoulos
The Greek Reporter, July 8

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras spoke to the European Parliament
presenting the country’s position on the debt issue and spoke of the
five years of austerity Greece went through.

“I am here today after the referendum and Greek people’s mandate for a
financially viable and socially just agreement. I am at the Temple of
Democracy, in the European Parliament,” Tsipras said in the beginning.

“The brave decision of the Greek people is not for a rift with Europe
but for the return to a Europe of solidarity, equality and social
justice. The European Union must be democratic, otherwise it will not
survive. It must respect the people’s will in individual countries.

“I take full responsibility for what happened in the past five months,
but we must admit that the blame for recession goes to the five years
of failed austerity measures. Austerity was imposed on other countries
too, but Greece’s austerity was harsher than all. Allow me to say that
Greece became a guinea pig for harsh austerity programs.

“The majority of Greek people believes that it has no choice other
than to be freed from such austerity measures. We want an agreement
that will have a light at the end of the tunnel. The burden must go to
those who can afford to pay and no to low-salaried employees and
pensioners, as it was happening for the past five years. The agreement
must include growth reforms. Also, the debt haircut must be discussed
so that the Greek debt becomes viable.

“We are sending a request to the European Stability Mechanism with
comprehensive proposals for the benefit of Greece and the Eurozone in

“The Greek proposals are for debt restructure and growth. The money
Greece borrowed in the past five years never went to the Greek people
but they went to save European and Greek banks. Since August 2014,
Greek people paid 17.5 billion euros out of their own pockets in loan
payments without receiving any money from creditors

“I don’t support the idea that foreigners are to blame for Greece’s
plight. Previous governments steeped in corruption, clientelism and
tax evasion contributed to the Greek debt. Memoranda failed because
they required harsh reforms while there was corruption and  oligarchs
and banks were the only ones who benefited from that.

“Our proposals are for real reforms that aim to fight oligarchs,
monopolies, corruption in television channels that operate without
license, tax evaders. We want restructuring of the public sector so
that it becomes more efficient. We want to clash with lobbyists and
oligarchs in Greece and Europe in general.

“The Greek crisis shows the inability of Europe to find a real
solution. The Greek crisis is a European problem, not a Greek problem.
European history is a history of clashes and compromises. It is a
history of unity and not division. We want a united Europe, not a
divided Europe.

“I am sure we all understand how crucial this moment is and that we
must assume our historic responsibility.”

Greek Government Rushes to Meet Sunday Deadline for Debt Deal
by Philip Chrysopoulos
The Greek Reporter, July 8

The Greek finance ministry team is racing with time to come up with a
comprehensive proposal in order to reach an agreement with creditors
by Friday.

The Greek proposal will be discussed on Saturday’s Eurogroup. On
Sunday, there will be a Eurozone summit, followed by a European Union
summit where all 28 member states will discuss the Greek debt issue
and come to a decision. The EU summit will be held because Greece’s
proposal involves a loan from the European Stability Mechanism and not
from Eurozone member countries only.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras stated that, “the process will be
very quick… our aim is to come to a solution by the end of the week,
at the latest.” Tsipras appeared optimistic that there will be an
agreement that would be mutually beneficial, viable and socially just.

The Greek proposal will be a three-year loan, according to sources
within the Greek government. It will be based on the common ground the
two sides have reached so far. The Greek government has to propose
measures that will be acceptable by creditors and will be voted
swiftly in Greek Parliament. Then Eurozone member parliaments have to
approve the agreement.

The best scenario for Greece would be that Saturday’s Eurogroup will
approve the Greek plan of measures and reforms, the Eurozone summit
will accept it and the same would happen on Sunday’s EU summit of all
28 member states.

The worst case scenario is that the Eurogroup would reject the Greek
plan and Sunday’s summits will only decide how to manage Greece’s exit
from the common currency bloc.

Greece faces euro exit unless Tsipras bows to demands Sunday
I Kathimerini, Athens, July 8  (Bloomberg)

European leaders set a Sunday deadline for Greece to accept a rescue,
saying otherwise they’ll take the unprecedented step of propelling the
country out of the euro.

At a Brussels summit, Greece’s anti-austerity government was ordered
to make new economic reform proposals that could earn it another aid
package and head off financial ruin.

“We have only a few days left to find a solution,” German Chancellor
Angela Merkel told reporters late Tuesday after euro area leaders met
in Brussels. She conceded that she is “not especially optimistic.”

Sunday now looms as the climax of a five-year battle to contain
Greece’s debts, potentially splintering a currency that was meant to
be unbreakable and throwing more than half a century of European
economic and political integration into reverse.

“We have a Grexit scenario prepared in detail,” European Commission
President Jean-Claude Juncker said, using the shorthand for expulsion
from the now 19-nation currency area.

The European Central Bank will end its support for Greece if “there is
no political accord in sight,” board member Christian Noyer said
Wednesday in an interview on France’s Europe 1 radio. “Then our rules
force us to stop completely. We’re starting to be very worried.”
 . . .
With shortages of medicine turning Greece’s fiscal crisis into a
humanitarian one and Russia sizing up the country as a potential ally
inside the European Union, the consequences of shutting off funding to
Europe’s most debt-stricken nation go far beyond the narrow economic

At the center of the storm is Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who
shored up his domestic position and claimed he’d gained leverage over
creditors by winning last week’s anti- austerity referendum with 61
percent of the vote. Tsipras said after the summit that Greece had
outlined its new proposals.

Tsipras said the popular groundswell gave him a “strong weapon” to
take on the creditors and repeated a vow to offer the “credible
reforms” that, he said, prior Greek governments were too timid to

Greece will make a formal request to the European Stability Mechanism
for financial assistance on Wednesday, SYRIZA party parliamentary
spokesman Nikos Filis said in comments on Antenna TV Wednesday.

For another few days, the ECB is standing between Greece and the
economic abyss that opened up after the government let its aid program
lapse. Greek banks, shut since July 3, are running out of paper money
for automated teller machines and relying on emergency loans from the
ECB to avoid collapse.

“Our inability to find agreement may lead to the bankruptcy of Greece
and the insolvency of its banking system,” European Union President
Donald Tusk said. “If someone has any illusions that it will not be
so, they are naive.”

Deadlines laid out at the summit appeared less fluid than is usually
the case in European deliberations. Eurozone finance ministers will
hold a conference call Wednesday to weigh Greece’s new aid request and
call for an evaluation by the commission.

By 8:30 a.m. on Friday, Greece must spell out how it will make the
economy more competitive and save money in the process, which would
require it to stomach many of the reforms that Tsipras’s left-leaning
SYRIZA party has resisted since coming to power in January.

Expert assessment of that package would feed into a final set of
meetings, culminating in summits of both eurozone leaders and the
broader 28-nation EU on Sunday.

“This is the big one,” Malcolm Barr, an economist at JPMorgan in
London, said in a report to clients. “The ‘good’ news for Greece is
that it is being given a clear opportunity to put its proposals in a
concrete form and have them evaluated by the rest of the region.”

While a new program would stretch for two to three years, finance
ministers bandied about technical solutions for the short term.
Austria’s Hans Joerg Schelling cited “a number of variants” for
getting Greece through the next few weeks, such as using untapped
funds or striking ad hoc deals similar to the first aid package in

European law treats the euro as “irrevocable” and makes no provision
for a country to leave or be pushed out. The likeliest exit mechanism
would be for European governments to halt aid to Greece, leading the
ECB to stop supplying euros to the country.

“You can’t push Greece out of the eurozone but in fact Greece will
reach a situation whereby it will be unsustainable,” said Prime
Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands, one of the principal backers
of the stringent fiscal rules flouted by many countries including

Tsipras had few sympathizers at the summit. Germany, the Netherlands
and Finland have anchored the tight-budget camp since the debt crisis
broke out in 2010; Ireland, Portugal, Spain observed strict conditions
for their own aid packages and are loathe to see Greece get off more

Baltic countries that went through phases of austerity and economic
contraction after winning independence from the Soviet Union were
equally adamant. Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite declared an
end to “party time at the expense of others in Greece.”

The most supportive words came from French President Francois
Hollande, who warned about the consequences of setting Greece adrift.
Hollande said his motto for handling the Greek crisis is
“responsibility, solidarity, speed.”

Greek Minister Warns Banks Are Unlikely to Open this Week
by Anastassios Adamopoulos
Greek Reporter, July 7

The extension of the bank holiday until Wednesday, July 8, which was
decided on Monday, is likely to carry on for the rest of the week.

In an interview to Greek radio on Tuesday, Alternate Administrative
Reform Minister Giorgos Katrougalos warned that banks are unlikely to
open this week.

“Decisions need to be taken this week so that banks can open. Not open
this week -technically, this is probably impossible- but they can
enter a normalization path. The economy cannot work without the banks.
I hope it will not take weeks. It is not possible to go more than one
week with closed banks, we are already late,” he said.

Greece has been under a capital controls regime since June 28 with the
maximum daily withdrawal limit set at 60 euros per account while
pensioners are eligible to collect 120 euros per week.

The Greek Minister put the blame on the European Central Bank for not
increasing the limit of the Emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA),
currently capped at 89 billion euros, prior to the referendum and
argued that the ECB could still make this decision.

“The ECB does not doubt the solvency of the banks, meaning their
capital sufficiency,” he noted. “The problem we are facing here was
first and foremost a liquidity problem, which could have been dealt
with. By not dealing with it immediately, by not increasing liquidity,
an avalanche occurred.”

40,000 Greek Workers Fired or Suspended
by Ioanna Zikakou
Greek Reporter, July 7

The imposition of capital controls delivered the last blow to the
public construction projects, leading to many cancellations, even in
sites that operated normally until yesterday. The main reason behind
the cancellations is that there is no way for the workers to be paid.

It was estimated that over the last weekend thousands of workers were
laid off or suspended until the political and economic situation of
the country clears up. “We estimate that approximately 40,000 people
have departed in the last days, as many construction sites have closed
down, leading to layoffs and suspensions,” noted Zacharias
Athoussakis, Chairman of SATE, an organization that represents medium
and large engineering companies. At this point, it is certain that
many of these jobs have been permanently lost, even if the
construction sites reopen.
 . . .

Greek olive farmers demand cash as bank fears grow
The cash economy emerging after the closure of Greece's banks is
beginning to paralyse the country's vital olive oil industry as
farmers demand cash for supplies.
The Times of Change, Greece, July 7  (Reuters)

With the country's lenders at risk of default, Greece's half a million
olive growers, many of them small family businesses, fear the banks
will raid their accounts and are refusing to accept large payments via
bank transfer.

"They want it in cash or they prefer to keep their olive oil in their
tanks," said Chris Dimizas, managing director of extra virgin olive
oil producer Greekpol in the northwestern Peloponnese.

Greekpol does not have enough bank notes to keep paying the farmers
even after it asked its own customers -- supermarket chains, grocery
shops and restaurants -- to pay their invoices in cash, Dimizas said.

"It worked for one week, but it won't work forever," he said. "If we
keep being unable to find a raw material supplier that can be paid
through the banking system and not only in cash, the deliveries will
stop immediately."

He said the company also risks running out of bottles and caps as they
are supplied from abroad and capital controls make it hard to wire
payments to foreign suppliers. Gaea, another olive oil supplier, is
offering farmers cheques that they can cash once the banks re-open.

"A single olive oil cargo costs about 100,000 euros, so you can
imagine we don't have such sums in cash," Chief Executive Aris
Kefalogiannis told Reuters. He said he had secured most of the
supplies he needs to keep operating until mid-August.

Gaea was paying some suppliers and transport firms using online
banking. "If web banking transactions stop, I don't know whether we
will be able to export. In that case, we will have to see if we can
use foreign transport firms," said Kefalogiannis.

Olives have been cultivated in Greece for thousands of years and today
the country is the world's third-largest producer of olive oil.

Exports have grown about twice as fast as domestic consumption over
the past two decades but, compared to Spain and Italy, there is very
little large-scale industrialized olive farming.

Of 520,000 olive growers, only half are professional farmers,
according to the United States Department of Agriculture. The rest are
small-scale family businesses with relatively little commercial

"Our clients abroad feels sympathy for the situation and are trying to
support us," said Dimizas at Greekpol. "We do not even want to think
about what would happen if we left the euro."

Prosecutor Investigates Whether Greek TV Stations Violated the
Electoral Legislation
by Ioanna Zikakou
The Greek Reporter, July 6

A Greek prosecutor is investigating the possibility of certain TV
broadcasters having committed offenses related to the electoral
legislation, during the week leading up to the July 5 referendum.

The prosecutor received a complaint regarding SKAI, a TV broadcaster
in Greece, on the eve of the referendum (Saturday, July 4). Following
the complaint, the prosecutor ordered a preliminary examination.

As part of the investigation, authorities will establish whether there
is evidence to suggest that the electoral process was breached by all
Greek television broadcasters during the period from the referendum
announcement until the final outcome on Sunday, July 5.

If the prosecutor finds any type of violations, the investigation is
likely to be expanded in order to determine whether any Greek National
Council for Radio and Television (NCRTV) officials are also
responsible for criminal liability, since they are members of the
competent supervisory authority.

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