Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

On SYRIZA, negotiations and compromise

by talos Wed Apr 29th, 2015 at 09:22:49 AM EST

There is a coordinated PR attack against the Greek government, unfortunately also deceiving people from the left, regarding the Greek government's intentions and actions so far. It is far from certain what the results of the negotiations will be, but preemptively announcing SYRIZA's retreat seems to me to be a performative assessment, meant to both flatter the prejudices on which most of the austerian EU governments have built their TINA alternative, and to dissipate international support away from a government that has up to now, in a small but significant way, made the first steps against the dominant narrative, anywhere in the West, over the past 20 years.

So let me put to rest some of the more obnoxious misinformation that is being peddled by "EU / ECB circles" and international media, subservient to the cause of pressuring the new Greek government to submission, by pointing out a few facts...

promoted by afew

Read more... (49 comments, 1716 words in story)

The new Greek government program

by talos Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 07:27:12 PM EST

The gvt of Greece had, according to the February 20 deal in the Eurogroup, until today to send a list of "reforms" to its creditors, which would form the basis of a revised program. This has been agreed to be postponed until tomorrow morning [Tuesday 22]. According to a SYRIZA non-paper, translated by Damian Mac Con Uladh here is a general description of what the Greek government will be sending to the Eurogroup FinMins Tuesday:

front-paged by afew

Read more... (171 comments, 595 words in story)

Golden Dawn arrests in Greece: A quick note

by talos Tue Oct 1st, 2013 at 02:19:32 AM EST

After years of toleration of nazi / organized crime activities the Greek government following the murder of Pavlos Fyssas, acted at last:

(Reuters) - Greek police arrested the leader and more than a dozen senior members of the far-right Golden Dawn party early on Saturday after the killing of an anti-fascist rapper by a party supporter triggered outrage and protests across the country.

The arrests, which are the most significant crackdown on a political party in Greece since the fall of a military dictatorship in 1974, are the biggest setback to Golden Dawn since it entered parliament on an anti-immigrant agenda last year.

front-paged by afew

Read more... (20 comments, 1253 words in story)

Greece and the German elections II: Creating a desert and calling it "reform"

by talos Tue Sep 10th, 2013 at 03:06:31 PM EST

Obviously resistant to reform

"We base our actions on the principle of quid pro quo," said Ms. Merkel. "No cent for the Greek people as long as the Greek weren't willing to deliver and implement reforms. Otherwise it makes no sense because solidarity would come to nothing."

Ah reforms! I can assure Angela Merkel that these "reforms" she's actively seeking have been implemented for 3 and a half years now. The result?
After six consecutive years of brutal recession, with homeless and unemployment rates skyrocketing, Greek society is experiencing an "unheard-of fragmentation", made worse by fierce austerity measures, experts say...
...this economic crisis has now transformed into a social emergency, according to UN expert on debt and human rights, Cephas Lumina.During a recent visit to the country, Lumina said there had been "an estimated 25 percent increase in the country's homeless population since 2009" and the poverty rate for under-17s was close to 44 percent.
"Adjusted for inflation and using 2009 as the fixed poverty threshold, more than one out of three Greeks (38 percent) had already fallen below the poverty line in 2012," he estimated.
Drastic spending cuts imposed by the country's international creditors in exchange for multi-billion-euro bailouts has made a difficult situation even worse, many believe.

Read more... (8 comments, 1525 words in story)

Greece and the German elections: Truths unsaid

by talos Tue Sep 10th, 2013 at 09:36:13 AM EST

George Stathakis, a professor of Economics at the University of Crete, is a SYRIZA MP and Shadow Minister of Development. Recently he wrote an article titled: "The Greek Issue in the Imaginations of German Politicians", where he points out six obvious truths about the Greek crisis that are being eschewed in German electoral discussions about Greece. Below I have translated these six points as they highlight "Eurotrib common sense", I think, and are interesting by themselves as they pretty much echo the analysis of the SYRIZA leadership, quite possibly Greece's government after the next elections (whenever they might come, and it might not be too long now)...

front-paged by afew

Read more... (11 comments, 749 words in story)

Greece: Of paupers and taxes

by talos Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 01:45:23 AM EST

Via the Guardian: "Athenians reach out for a bag of oranges during a free distribution of fruit and vegetables by farmers outside the Agriculture Ministry. The farmers are staging the event to protest against high production costs, including rising fuel prices"

It used to be the case that I would need some time and effort to select incidents that would be telling enough and substantially reported in the media enough to give readers a taste of the societal collapse and the democratic decay that is occurring in Greece under the yoke of the troika and its willing executioners among the political elites. These days its simple enough: just check the past few days' headlines.

Social implosion
On the societal collapse side Alex Politaki in the Guardian, describes the situation on the ground: Greece is facing a humanitarian crisis, deep and unprecedented during peacetime in the West:
"...There are three more indicators that point to a humanitarian crisis. First, the number of homeless people has risen to unprecedented levels for a European country: unofficial estimates put them at 40,000. Second, the proportion of Greek beneficiaries of NGO medical services in some urban centres was recorded at 60% of the total in 2012. This would have been unthinkable even three years ago, since such services were typically provided to immigrants, not Greeks.

Third, there has been explosive growth in soup kitchens and general food distribution. The levels are not officially recorded, but the Church of Greece distributes approximately 250,000 daily rations, while there are unknown numbers of rations distributed by municipal authorities and NGOs. By recent government order, municipal rations will be expanded further because of rising incidence of children fainting at school due to low calorie intake. There will also be light meals provided to young students...

front-paged by afew

Read more... (143 comments, 1533 words in story)

News from Austerityland

by talos Thu Feb 14th, 2013 at 03:24:36 AM EST

It's a recent discovery and one that allows me a rather lazy recap of some of the latest developments in Greece: EUobserver's Austerityland blog by Leigh Phillips has probably provided the best English language summaries of recent events in the country and the slide to a defiantly non-democratic version of a permanent emergency state.

In Puppies and Ice Cream Phillips explains the four steps that the Greek (let's face it, extreme-) right wing government employs to contain popular dissent and fight the opposition:

  • Distract attention from the cuts, by stoking up racism
  • Use arcane laws to break strikes (and indeed the government has indicated in the past few days that it wants to go down the road of making legal strikes anything from very difficult to impossible)
  • Accuse your opponents of terrorism (featuring Zizek among others)
  • Crack down on dissidents: squats, social centers and generally "settling accounts with the post-1974 era" as the Public Order Minister announced (that is the period after the fall of the junta)

front-paged by afew

Read more... (11 comments, 604 words in story)

The troika's Greek winter: Cold and Asphyxiating

by talos Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 05:40:19 PM EST

Athens has been covered on and off these past couple of months by a thick smog produced by smoke from fireplaces and wood stoves. This is not strictly of course an Athenian phenomenon: all over Greece (and especially Northern Greece) towns and cities are enveloped this winter by an acrid smelling smog consisting of burning wood fumes and ashes, mingled with all sorts of toxic substances. As with most of the societal plagues brought on Greece these past few years, this too is a direct result of troikan austerity gone wild and a Greek government unable to protect its citizens.

The troika demanded and the Greek government acquiesced to, a tax increase on heating oil, the stuff that powers most central heating in Greek buildings, bringing its price at the same level as transportation gas. Already the price of a litre of gas at the pump in Greece was the highest in the EU, thanks to previous rounds of taxes on gas mandated by the troika. Gas prices went up by over 50% in Greece since 2009, mostly due to excise taxes. This, combined with a decline in real average income in the country of around 40-50%, led to a decrease in tax receipts from gas taxes of the order of 1.5 billion Euros.

Read more... (15 comments, 1118 words in story)

EU courts: The right to ECB opacity

by talos Sat Dec 1st, 2012 at 05:33:27 AM EST

Reuters: ECB right not to disclose Greece-related documents: court

Bloomberg News asked the ECB in August 2010 to disclose two documents entitled "The impact on government deficit and debt from off-market swaps. The Greek case" and "The Titlos transaction and possible existence of similar transactions impacting on the euro area government debt or deficit levels".

The ECB refused access to the documents. Bloomberg News challenged that decision in the General Court.

"In today's judgment, the General Court dismisses that action," the court said in a statement.

The judges agreed with the ECB that it could not disclose the first document because the information it contained was outdated, posing a substantial risk of severely misleading the public in general and financial markets in particular.

"In a very vulnerable market environment, that disclosure would affect the proper functioning of the financial markets. Thus, disclosure of the information contained in that document would undermine public confidence as regards the effective conduct of economic policy in the EU and Greece," the statement said.

The court also found that the content of the second document was closely connected with the first, and that the ECB had not made a mistake in assessing that its disclosure too "would undermine the economic policy of the EU and Greece"

This obviously stinks to high heaven...

front-paged by afew

Read more... (9 comments, 654 words in story)

Greece: Police tortures anti-fascists

by talos Fri Oct 12th, 2012 at 04:11:52 AM EST

This is from the Guardian. It is a story that establishes both the degree to which the Athens riot police units act as Nazi allies and the degree to which the media system in Greece is conspiring to keep mum about it:

The Guardian: Greek anti-fascist protesters 'tortured by police' after Golden Dawn clash

Fifteen anti-fascist protesters arrested in Athens during a clash with supporters of the neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn have said they were tortured in the Attica General Police Directorate (GADA) - the Athens equivalent of Scotland Yard - and subjected to what their lawyer describes as an Abu Ghraib-style humiliation.

Members of a second group of 25 who were arrested after demonstrating in support of their fellow anti-fascists the next day said they were beaten and made to strip naked and bend over in front of officers and other protesters inside the same police station.

(This is the detainees' version of events in Greek, Spanish and English)

front-paged by afew

Read more... (25 comments, 812 words in story)

The class war in Greece

by talos Mon Oct 1st, 2012 at 08:35:35 AM EST

Instead of an analysis of what kind of "austerity measures" and in whose favor, the troika and its vassals in the Greek government have been preparing, I'll just show you a table of taxes before and after the new tax system, a part of the latest austerity package, is implemented, by income category. This is income tax only, it does not include social security taxes... The really fun part is at the bottom of the table [from Capital.gr]

A fair tax system

Promoted by DoDo

Read more... (15 comments, 1294 words in story)

Die Welt: All's well in the austerity front. No, really!

by talos Mon Sep 10th, 2012 at 07:33:43 AM EST

This has to be read to be believed "Die Welt: Happy Days Ahead? Euro Zone Austerity Measures Starting To Work" [Original in German]:

If the numbers are right, the European crisis countries are apparently healing faster than the markets have realized -- or want to realize.

An astonishingly positive total picture emerges from the various statistics. The economies of the euro zone's periphery nations are more competitive than they were just a few months ago; their industries are selling more abroad, and trade deficits are narrowing.

"Blood, sweat and tears -- everything people in these economies have been through is paying off," says Bert Colijn, a jobs market expert with Conference Board, a private economic research institute." The competitivity of the crisis countries is improving, and these first signs of improvement are encouraging. The periphery countries are moving in the right direction."

front-paged by afew

Read more... (53 comments, 905 words in story)

Greek election thread

by talos Sun Jun 17th, 2012 at 07:18:19 AM EST

Today, as apparently half the world knows already, parliamentary elections are being held in Greece. This is the second such elections in a period of 40 days, after the results of the elections held on the 6th of May proved impossible to produce a working government alliance.

Again as most of the world knows by now, the two main rivals in these elections are the conservative New Democracy party and SYRIZA, the party of the Greek radical left which was the surprise winner of the May 6th vote that saw it propelled from 4,5% to 16,5% and second place ahead of the discredited socialists of PASOK. SYRIZA is a party that promises to renounce austerity and as such causes some form of disquiet across the ruling elites world-wide.

So it seems that the world's media have descended en masse in Athens and around Greece (the BBC's excellent Paul Mason has been climbing mountains and talking to cattle-ranchers) to an impressive extent. When Tsipras voted a few hours ago in a down-town polling center the whole area was innundated by international reporters and their crews

The Guardian has live coverage of events and is reliable. Athens News will be covering here election results as they become known.
Official results in English can be found at the Greek Ministry of Interior...

front-paged by afew

Read more... (114 comments, 599 words in story)

Of shipowners and taxes

by talos Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 05:51:02 AM EST

Greek Shipowner Victor Restis, on SYRIZA's plan to impose some sort of minimal tax on ship-owners:

"You cannot squeeze and tackle a person that is in international shipping trade and finance and say, `I will tax you,'" said Restis, who controls a fleet of more than 200 vessels. "The answer is `sure, tax me. Find me.'"

Restis is not just a shipowner though, he is also a large shareholder in Greek media enterprises. The sort that spend most of their newscasts blaming working people for the disaster that has befallen them and complaining about fiscal imprudence and "generous" public sector salaries.

Promoted by Colman

Read more... (75 comments, 488 words in story)

Levy your myths on Greece

by talos Thu Jun 7th, 2012 at 04:28:19 AM EST

"Greece must be clear that it agreed to this rehabilitation program, there is no alternative, if it wants to remain a member of the Euro-zone,"
- ECB executive board member Jörg Asmussen

Rehabilitation implies a return to health, or to normalcy, of course, and two years after the therapy started, the patient is sicker than ever, undeveloping and suffering societal collapse.

That these fiscal doctors are quacks therefore is indisputable. That they have no ability to learn from their mistakes or, perhaps, that indeed this political butchery is not incidental but purposeful, is evidenced by their persistence on the social and economic disaster being visited by the Frankfurt Consensus (worthy heir to the devastating Washington Consensus) not only on Greece but on country after peripheral country in the EU, a policy cancer that is metastasizing to the EU core - again, perhaps as intended...

front-paged by afew

Read more... (67 comments, 5405 words in story)

SYRIZA and the Eurocrats: a letter of intent

by talos Wed May 9th, 2012 at 04:16:12 AM EST

As Antonis Samaras leader of New Democracy, the Greek conservative party, has failed to garner support for forming a new government, Alexis Tsipras the leader of the radical left party SYRIZA, will try tomorrow [Wednesday 9, afew] to gather enough support for forming a government that will renegotiate the current treaties and repudiate the destructive austerity imposed on the country, by the ECB / IMF / EU Commission troika. Interestingly both ND and PASOK seem to hint that they might support a government of the left or abstain from voting on the formation of such a government, which leads me to believe that they might be betting on SYRIZA capitulating on the EU blackmail that will surely follow such a government or, even better, are scared stiff of the possible results of a second round in the polls.

As Tsipras will be in a (theoretical) position to form a government today, I attach below a translation of the letter he sent to the governments of eurozone countries, the EU Comission and assorted eurocrats, on February 21st this year, ten days after a massive protest against the signing of the memorandum was drowned in tear-gas and police brutality, and a few days after the illegitimate government of Loukas Papademos signed the PSI deal and the loan treaty that among many other things, further reduced all wages by 22%...

frontpaged by afew

Read more... (363 comments, 1255 words in story)

Greece election day II - Election diary and info

by talos Sun May 6th, 2012 at 07:38:20 AM EST

So the elections are underway in Greece, and no one has a clue of the result...
Polls have been very ineffective in gauging public sentiment in these elections and pollsters are much less certain of their numbers than they were in previous elections. This is because a tectonic shift in attitudes has occurred in the Greek electorate, a new social and economic era, driven by the IMF/ECB disaster that has reorganized society creating new alliences, hopes and fears. Plus a huge number of citizens refuse to cooperate with the pollsters anyway.

So we're voting today in Greece without having even a broad idea of the result. There are a few things that are expected, but not certain:

  • No party will be able to govern by itself
  • The sum of the percentages of the two mainstream parties that have monopolized government will be at a historical low. The conservatives will be less affected than the "socialists", but are expected to suffer serious losses from their 2009 33% result (a historical low at the time as well). The socialists will be celebrating if they only lose half of their 2009 electoral percentage of 44%.  
  • Given the outrageous 50 seat bonus (in a 300 seat parliament) the two parties (in the worst case scenario with the help of minor parties of the neolib right mostly) are expected to form a government, even a weak government
  • The left is expected to reach a historical record. Of the parties of the left SYRIZA, is expected to have the most impressive result
  • The "old parties" keep their strength among the elderly.
  • A good result for the left would be an inability by pro-austerity forces to form a stable government
  • Despite earlier assumptions, participation in these elections will probably be higher, not lower than that in the previous election

Read more... (129 comments, 1740 words in story)

Greece: Election day I - some background

by talos Sun May 6th, 2012 at 06:23:35 AM EST

Tomorrow, Sunday May 6th, is not only election day in France (and Serbia and Armenia), but in Greece too. If the French elections monopolize most of the international coverage it is likely that the electoral outcome in Greece could have a much more drastic global effect, despite the country's small size and relative weakness. Unlike France the result of the Greek electoral process could result immediately in triggering actions from the main players of the European crisis, that could lead to its resolution, one way or another, including the dismantling of the Eurozone.

Read more... (2320 words in story)

Antiausterian policies in small countries - feasible?

by talos Wed May 2nd, 2012 at 05:49:03 AM EST

I'll be putting up a diary on the upcoming Greek elections, both the most promising and the most ominous in recent history as well as the most unpredictable, shortly... The elections are scheduled for next Sunday, so they will coincide with the second round of the French presidential elections, and probably will be overshadowed by them... At least initially...

This here is an introductory diary that would like to open a discussion about the possibilities and prospects of an antiausteritarian policy starting from a single, small EU country. It's more of a call for a discussion really as it is not just about Greece, but in general about the possibilities and routes of escape from the straitjacket of ECB brand austerity... Something most of us here aim and wish for...

See this: Greek anti-bailout leftist wins over austerity-weary voters:

Alexis Tsipras says Greece's political elite are bluffing when they say harsh austerity cuts are required to keep the country in the euro zone. And he wants Greek voters to call them on it.
With Greece due to vote on May 6, the young leader of the Left Coalition party is urging Greeks to vote out austerity - and the two pro-bailout parties imposing it - arguing Europe cannot afford to kick Greece out of the monetary union.
"It's a pseudo-dilemma, a fabricated myth, that our future in the euro is at risk. It is blackmail by pro-bailout parties, a tool to pressure people to accept measures that bring misery," he told Reuters in this port city in central Greece.
"If any country left the euro under the pressure of markets, then as a herd they would seek the next one to speculate on. The cost for the zone, for Germany, would be huge," he said.
The rhetoric may find little sympathy among Greece's international lenders, but it is winning him voters at home. The 38-year-old leftist's party is one of four vying for third place in national elections on May 6.

frontpaged - Nomad

Read more... (70 comments, 976 words in story)

The anality of evil

by talos Sat Mar 17th, 2012 at 09:17:06 PM EST

EU Commission President Barroso said:

"Greece's future passes through restoring both financial stability and growth potential. The support provided by the Commission's Task Force is a key instrument to support growth and jobs in Greece. The solidarity shown by many Member States, the Commission, and other international institutions is a very encouraging signal for this country. Let's build a future for Greece together".

Read more... (12 comments, 402 words in story)
Next 20 >>

News and Views

 July 2024

by Oui - Jun 30, 189 comments

Your take on today's news media

Occasional Series
Click for full list