[Marxism] Greece: Donald Tusk warns of extremist political contagion
lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Jul 17 06:55:21 MDT 2015
FT, July 16, 2015 10:55 pm
Greece: Donald Tusk warns of extremist political contagion
Peter Spiegel in Brussels
The bitter stand-off over Greece has given new energy to radical
political groups on the left and right, creating a pre-revolutionary
atmosphere that Europe has not seen since 1968, the EU leader who
brokered Monday’s bailout deal has warned.
Donald Tusk, the former Polish prime minister who now heads the European
Council, said he feared “political contagion” from the Greek crisis far
more than its financial fallout, arguing that common cause between
far-right and far-left groups has been a precursor to some of Europe’s
darkest moments of the last century.
“I am really afraid of this ideological or political contagion, not
financial contagion, of this Greek crisis,” said Mr Tusk.
“It was always the same game before the biggest tragedies in our
European history, this tactical alliance between radicals from all
sides. Today, for sure, we can observe the same political phenomenon.”
Mr Tusk, who chairs all EU summits, played a central role in forcing
Alexis Tsipras, the Greek prime minister, and Angela Merkel, his German
counterpart, to agree terms on Monday that will allow talks to restart
on a new €86bn bailout as soon as this weekend.
The new bailout deal, which involves sweeping austerity measures
including a requirement to put an estimated €50bn of Greek public assets
into a privatisation fund supervised by EU authorities, has led to
accusations in Athens that Ms Merkel forced on Greece the kind of
punitive conditions Germany was saddled with at the end of the first
Mr Tusk disputed such criticisms, saying he was “100 per cent sure that
Germany is not the winner in the context of political power”,
particularly since “Germany has to sacrifice much more than other
countries” in terms of financial aid it will soon have to send to Athens.
“I can’t accept this argument, that someone was punished, especially
Tsipras or Greece. The whole process was about assistance to Greece,” Mr
“When we discuss facts, deeds and numbers, this is the only number on
the table: €80bn for Greek assistance, and quite soft conditions. Not
only [soft] financial conditions, but political conditions — in fact,
without collateral. Come on: what is the reason to claim it’s something
humiliating for Greece, or this is punishment for Tsipras?”
Mr Tusk said he had been unsettled by the bitter recriminations that
have characterised the contentious six-month Greek negotiations,
particularly the anti-EU and anti-German sentiment that he believes has
become part of mainstream political discourse.
He said he was taken aback by a speech Mr Tsipras gave to the European
Parliament last week where his criticism of Germany — including an
argument that whereas Germany was provided “solidarity” and debt relief
after the second world war, Greece had been denied similar treatment —
was loudly cheered by a large number of MEPs.
“It was the first time I saw radicals with such emotion, in this context
anti-German emotion. It was almost half of the European Parliament. This
is why I think nobody, but in particular Germany, are political winners
in this process.”
For me, the atmosphere is a little similar to the time after 1968 in Europe
Mr Tusk said he was concerned about the far left, which he believes is
advocating “this radical leftist illusion that you can build some
alternative” to the current EU economic model. He argued those far-left
leaders were pushing to cast aside traditional European values like
“frugality” and liberal, market-based principles that have served the EU
in good stead.
He insisted these beliefs did not influence his negotiations with Mr
Tsipras, whose Syriza party has been the most successful far-left party
in Europe in decades. Mr Tusk said he took a pragmatic, non-ideological
approach to the Greek leader.
Still, he said the febrile rhetoric from far-left leaders, coupled with
high youth unemployment in several countries, could be an explosive
“For me, the atmosphere is a little similar to the time after 1968 in
Europe,” he said.
“I can feel, maybe not a revolutionary mood, but something like
widespread impatience. When impatience becomes not an individual but a
social experience of feeling, this is the introduction for revolutions.”
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