Greek Debt Audit Campaign statement
Greek protesters call for debt cancellation, Athens, 7 February 2012. Photo: Kyriakos Mpanos
"The new International Treaty and Memorandum, which accompany the ‘haircut’ of Greek public debt, push the Greek people further into impoverishment. They mean a dramatic drop in both living standards and working conditions, and enslave us to the state’s creditors. The reductions in pensions and wages, the abolition of collective bargaining legislation (contrary to Article 22 of our Constitution), and the 150 000 public sector redundancies lead to mass hunger and wages of 300 or 400 euros a month.
Unemployment, already at historical record levels, will reach 30%. The new savaging of social spending, especially in health, will drop life expectancy and increase mortality rates to African levels. The new round of privatisations will hand over to corporations the national wealth, denying the state future streams of revenue. English and Luxembourg law will cover new bonds (Article 13 of the new agreement), a term insulting and degrading for a sovereign state, and also instituting a virtual captivity of a whole people, as it tries to prevent any renegotiation of debt. By the way, it also protects our creditors from the impact of the eventual Greece’s exit from the Eurozone.
For all these reasons the Greek Debt Audit Campaign, together with the Greek people, asked the parliament to reject the new Treaty and Memorandum, that buttress the Private Sector Involvement. We demand the immediate and unconditional cessation of payments towards the state’s creditors, and the opening up of the debt books, so that they be audited. Finally, our long-standing demand for Germany to pay for the huge loans it extracted from Nazi-occupied Greece in 1941-1944, and for the grave damages of the Occupation, must be heard.
Ceasing payments immediately and deferring the bond exchange, prescribed by the PSI agreement, are necessary. Otherwise our pension funds, which lose 12 billion euros through this agreement, will be bankrupted, while the first bailout loan from the Troika, of 110 billion euros, which was not even voted in parliament, will be scandalously repaid in full. Cessation of payments towards the state’s creditors is even demanded by our Constitution, since we pass through a state of emergency, in which it is impossible to repay creditors and simultaneously finance essential state services (such as health, education, and social security). The UN Commission of International Law and the International Court of The Hague both recognise that state of emergency is a valid reason to retract from international obligations, specifically through ceasing of payments. The European Court of Human Rights recently recognised this same principle regarding the Russian debt, ruling that public interest has precedence over any financial demands made by creditors.
The Papademos Government and the Troika will soon be held accountable for the catastrophic, inhuman, illegal, and unconstitutional policies that they implement. The new International Treaty, and any other similar text, which radically alters the people’s living conditions, could be legalised and legitimised only through a referendum. The Greek people considers null and void such texts, that tie it to enslavement, as well as all Memorandums and policies that accompany them, as long as they lack democratic legitimacy, not having been validated through a referendum.
The recent Eurozone summit decisions, and the catastrophic IMF policy packages imposed on us by the Papademos Government, lead to a social Armageddon, but will not achieve their stated objectives. They do not deter default, but bring it closer. Even German officials now acknowledge that, sooner or later, they will impose on us new austerity packages, new spoliating treaties, and further impoverishment. There is no alternative, they say.
The government and the Troika are actually imposing a violent redistribution of income in favour of the richest. They destroy the weak, abolish the welfare state (health, education, social security and public utilities), and turn Greece into a new colony, governed by German Gauleiters. The Greek Debt Audit Campaign, together with other organisations, had in time denounced this raw class attack, that aims to sink society into misery, demolishing social rights achieved through decades of struggle.
We propose the opposite strategy. Immediate cessation of debt payments, debt audit, effective income support, and real increases in wages, pensions, and unemployment benefits. Nationalisation of the banking system, and a generous strengthening of the social safety nets and the welfare state. This is the only solution for the Greek people, and it goes contrary to the one proposed by the Troika and the government. It will bring income redistribution favouring the poorest, reduction of inequalities, and democratisation of the political and social life.
All this is possible, and it will even restart economic growth. But society can only achieve it through occupying the streets and removing the bankers from government. Papademos has passed through parliament the monstrous progeny of the IMF, the ECB and the EU, but the game starts only now. The people’s struggle will soon overturn the robbers’ laws."
Greek Debt Audit Campaign, Athens, 12th February 2012