The video of my comment in Press TV’s News in Brief program on the conclusion of the 2nd review of the Greek Adjustment Program and its inability to solve the Greek crisis.
The transcript of the comment is the following:
Comment in Press TV News in Brief program on the conclusion of the 2nd review of the Greek Adjustment Program and its inability to solve the Greek crisis
The technical agreement (SLA) between the troika of Greece’s lenders (IMF-EU-ECB) – because a political agreement has to follow as well – is a sham. The whole bunch of declarations by the the IMF and the EU and the SYRIZA government are pretentious and not telling the truth. The Greek economy is in shambles. It is in a terrible condition with recession reigning for the seventh consecutive year. The Adjustment Program imposed upon the country by the EU and the IMF has aggravated this situation. Each review of this program and the additional austerity measures that are being taken within this program in order to bring it back in its own tracks aggravate further the recession of the Greek economy and the poverty of the great majority of the Greek people. In these conditions a dirty game is being played between the major partners of these agreements. The EU wants to impose these agreements upon Greece but it requires the tacit agreement of the IMF (that is by the US). The US, on the other hand, fear that they throw a lot of money in the desperate Greek case and also the new Trump administration has taken a more tough line towards the EU. This was the reason for which the negotiations for this second review took too long. That is the IMF created problems. The junior partner of this deal, that is the Greek government of SYRIZA, has capitulated completely. It gives whatever the foreign lenders require so long as the new austerity measures required are not to be applied during this and the next year. But to be applied by 2019, that is after the expiration of the SYRIZA government. This means that the new government would bear the costs and the burden of the new austerity measures. In total the new agreement does not solve the Greek crisis but it aggravates it as it puts another 3.5 to 4 bn euros austerity cuts upon a very weak economy. So, the problems lay ahead.
My comment in Press TV’s News bulletin on the refugee crisis, 5-10-2016
The main points of my intervention are the following:
The refugee crisis is caused by the collapse of several states and economies in Asia and Africa. This collapses certainly have internal causes but the Western powers played also a crucial role through their interventions. Prominent among them are the ‘regime changing’ policies of the US.
Europe, as the nearest safe heaven that offers superior living standards, is the main recipient of the refugee influx from these areas. Greece is at its forefront as one of the main entry points in the EU.
EU’s elites and dominant powers play a double game regarding the refugee crisis. On the one hand this influx helps them downsize wages and fend the demographic crisis of many European economies. On the other hand, it cannot afford an uncontrollable influx as these strains the already curtailed and burdened welfare system. Also the abrupt downsizing of wages foments social tensions and popular hostility and anger against the EU.
So the EU tries to manage the problem. Part of it management is turning certain euro-peripheral countries into ‘refugee concentration camps’ before filtering who and how many refugees it will admit to euro-core countries.
This is disastrous for this euro-peripheral economies as they are already terribly strained by the economic crisis, high unemployment, dismal wages and shrinking economies.
So the euro-peripheral eonomies are called to pay the price for Western interventions in Asia and Africa.
Following is the transcript of my intervention in today’s News in Press TV (that was marred by connection problems):
PRESS TV NEWS item:
Greece says it cannot comply with labor reforms demanded by the IMF as a condition for a third bailout.
Greek Labor Minister George Katrougalos said his government considers the IMF’s demand as a ban on the right of workers to negotiate wages and conditions on a collective basis. Katrougalos noted that a breakdown with the IMF on the issue could jeopardize its financing of the 96-billion dollar bailout and could undermine overall confidence in the deal. The labor Minister said however that Greece can no longer tolerate the deterioration of its workers’ state. Talks are set to be held on Wednesday between Greece and an EU-IMF mission over the country’s bailout future.
This whole affair is a masquerade. It is a cheat game between IMF, EU and the SYRIZA government. The sad thing is that Greece and its people are paying the cost of this masquerade.
Let us decipher this cheat game.
The IMF, which primarily expresses the geopolitical and economic interests of the US, pressurizes
- the EU for a new Greek debt haircut. This is vehemently rejected by the EU (and Germany in particular)
- Greece for even more austerity and anti-popular reforms. Part of this new package is the more barbaric deregulation of labour relations (whose previous waves of deregulation have contributed to a dramatic increase in unemployment and an equally dramatic decrease in wages).
The IMF blackmails the other two that, unless its conditions are being met, it won’t participate in the third bailout and austerity programme for Greece that the SYRIZA government signed.
The EU wants a strict implementation of the austerity programme without a debt haircut. It considers only the case of an insubstantial debt reprofilling and that after the forthcoming German elections. It does not object in principle to more barbaric labour relations deregulation. But, on the other hand, it is more sensitive than the IMF to the possible disastrous political repercussions of such a move. Especially, it worries that such a bold move might rekindle social resistance – that is dormant after SYRIZA’s betrayal of the anti-austerity movement – and lead to uncontrolled political changes.
Finally, the terribly incompetent and untrustworthy SYRIZA government is the underdog in this cheat game. It simply tries to save its skin and cling as long as possible in power (given its already very low popularity). It might accept another wave of labour relations deregulation if it goes together with even an insubstantial debt reprofilling (that they think that they can ‘sell’ to the Greek public). Their problem is that they have no real power (either economic or in the form of popular support) to press their own objectives. So they are simply trying to find room to play between the positions of the two other big players. On top of that the SYRIZA government and particularly its Minister of Labour are habitual liars. A recent example of this is their public declarations that pensions will not be cut at the very same time that they literally ‘massacre’ them. So the minister’s supposedly intransigent declaration against the IMF’s demands does not hold much water.
Published in COUNTERPUNCH
September 15, 2016
This is the presentation of my paper in IIPPE‘s (International Initiative for Promoting Political Economy) 7th Annual Conference (ISEG, Lisbon) on the nature and the crisis of the European Union.
A comment on Brexit in the News programme of PRESS TV, 31-5-2016
The Brexit referendum is nearing and its outcome is hanging in the balance.
So the EU establishment increases the threats in order to subdue the widespread popular rejection of the EU because it fears that a Brexit would deal a fatal blow to the staggering EU
The popular rejection of the EU stems from the fact that the european integration project is profoundly undemocratic and anti-popular, imposing austerity and poverty to the popular classes for the benefit of european elites.
For this reason wherever there was a vote for some aspect of it (e.g. the european constitution) the proposal was rejected.
Because of this fear of popular rejection the EU but also the British establishment and the US are conducting an unbashful scare campaign trying to coerce a YES vote.
It is interesting that the US is playing this role as it needs a weak EU. But on the other hand it abhors a power vacuum and thus opts for a weak but unified EU with Britain in the role of the US’ obedient stooge.
Nonetheless, despite the blackmails and the threats, the anti-EU feeling has strong popular roots and for this reason all of them – British establishment, EU, US – fear a vote for the Brexit.
A short intervention on the issue of the unfolding refugee crisis in today’s PressTV News.
This is the recording of the interview:
A fuller account of my views on the refugee crisis folows:
- The refugee crisis has been caused by the mayhem created by Western imperialist interventions in the Middle East and Northern Africa. US is the main actor but the EU, which went along, is called to py the price of the refugee influx.
- Turkey has played along in order to foster its sub-imperialist ambitions in the area. Then it permeated the influx of refugees to Europe through Greece as a bargaining card for geopolitical and economic gains. Part of them is the quick ‘solution’ of the Cyprus problem according to its interests. Similar is the game played by Saudi Arabia and Quatar.
- EU’s dominant ruling classes aspire to the cheap labor offered by the refugees but at the same time is wary of the destabilizing effect in European societies. Germany in particular
- Greece bears the main burden of the refugee crisis because of the subservience to Western and EU interests of its ruling class and its governments (SYRIZA included). A country in its 7th year of crisis, with huge unemployment (26%) and immigration to the West and facing a new austerity program is designed by the EU to become a ‘souls’ store’* to act as a buffer to the refugee influx so as Germany to filter those that it wants to host and reject those that it does not. Greek society has reacted humanely by helping the refugees – who live and die in horrid conditions – and by cursing EU’s duplicity. But if it becomes a buffer store for refugees then social tensions should increase uncontrollably.
- The only solution to the problem is the halt of western interventions in the Middle East and the Northern Africa and the stabilization and reconstruction of the affected countries.
Interview on the popular upheaval against the SYRIZA pension reform plans for the Iranian Press TV