Tag Archives: EU

An interview on Italy, Greece, the Left and Marxism – VOX POPULI

This is the English transcript of an interview that will appear in VOX POPULI (https://revolucionvoxpopuli.wordpress.com/) translated in Italian

 

VOX POPULI interview

December 2019

 

  1. You stood out in 2016 with the famous letter against SYRIZA, indicated as a subject falsely aimed at change. In particular, you accused SYRIZA of having negotiated with the EU, thus accepting the logic and structure of the Troika program. The conditions that were then emerging and which you lucidly predicted consisted in the analysis of the Rescue Plan for Greece, where the interests of two large economic blocks, the European and the American, were played out. In particular, if the first feared for a debt cut, being in favor of a renegotiation on the terms of expiry and on the interests, the second favored the net cut of the debt in order to guarantee itself a hegemonic economic and political block (exploiting the influence of global deleveraging and of the debt’s haircut on EU’s official interest rates). Always according to your letter, the constraint of the steel cage of austerity was the result of the mediation between these interests. To what degree does this strategic decision have influence today and how much can Greece call itself the contemporary field of mediation – and irresponsible speculation – between the interests of Europe in the fiscal compact and the neoliberalism of Maastricht and Lisbon and the new policy of the American power under the Trump doctrine?

 

The contemporary tragedy of Greece has two major and one minor instigators. The minor instigator is the Greek bourgeoisie. It entered the European imperialist integration project aspiring that this will elevate it within the pyramid of imperialism through its partnership with the more advanced Western European capitals. This ‘big idea’ backfired terribly as its odds were very demanding and the Greek capital could not face up to this challenge. The eruption of the 2008 global capitalist crisis (a falling profitability crisis) and the subsequent 2010 Greek debacle (which appeared as a fiscal crisis although it was caused by both Greek capital’s falling profitability and its imperialist exploitation by the more developed Western capitals) put an end to this ‘big idea’ and demoted the Greek capitalism within the international imperialist pyramid. Of course, the Greek people pays the cost for this failure.

However, Greek is a middle-level capitalism and also a sub-imperialist economy. The latter means that, although it is able to exploit economically less developed capitalisms in its neighboring areas (e.g. Balkans), it is subject to imperialist dominance by more developed capitalisms. In the post-war era two are the main imperialist dominators of Greece. The first one is the US which assumed this role from Britain in the midst of the Greek civil war. The second is the agglomeration of Western European capitals forming the basis of the EU; with the contradictions and conflicts that exist between them. When the European integration project was under the auspices of the EU (approximately till the 1980s), the US left the primacy in economic matters to the EU although it kept the overall geopolitical hegemony. When European capitals attempted to deepen their integration, expand and ultimately challenge the US hegemony the previously mentioned arrangement fell apart. The 2008 crisis intensified the imperialist rivalry between them. The Greek capitalist crisis became one of the grounds on which the US-EU tug-of-war (conflict cum compromise) takes place.

In the beginning of the crisis both hegemons agreed on the austerity policies of troika’s Economic Adjustment Programmes. The representatives of the two hegemons (the IMF for the US and the ECB and the EU for the Europeans) had equal leverage in troika’s decision-making. However, the economic risks were unequal as the European loans were greater and less secure than those of the IMF. Moreover, when the urgency of the initial phase of the crisis passed, different and opposing strategies emerged between the US and the EU. The former put on the table the issue of debt restructuring which the latter strived to avoid. Also, significant differences merged between the conditionalities and the policy proposals of the IMF and the European side. In a nutshell, Greece became one of the battle grounds of the US-EU rivalry. Slowly, the IMF started distancing itself from the Greek debacle. The Trump administration exacerbated US unilateralism and aggressiveness. This led today in the earlier repayment of IMF’s loans and the assumption by it of the role of the advisor. On the other hand, and ironically, although the Europeans bore the greater part of loans and risks, it was the US capital that made the bigger inroads in the Greek economy.

The Greek bourgeoisie tries to equilibrate between its two imperialist patrons. On the one hand, it is part of the EU and subject to its dictums; particularly given its down-graded status to that of an almost failed state. On the other hand, the US has a very strong economic position in Greece and also is the crucial geopolitical and military factor in the Greek – Turkish regional rivalry. Indicatively, the SYRIZA government tied itself unashamedly to the US but shied away from agreeing with the IMF’s demand for a debt haircut. So long as the US – EU rivalry increases – and the current global economic downturn increasingly points towards this – then the Greek bourgeoisie wil be in a terribly difficult position because it will have to choose side.

 

  1. SYRIZA has demonstrated of not being able to cope with the European stakeholders since the first talks with the Rescue Plan Commission: during this period the ostracization of Varoufakis was the great question mark for European Marxism (obviously, not that Varoufakis was a Marxist thinker!). What has really happened? Why did Tsipras chase away the man who could give the appearance of being the professional of the party and an inflexible authority regarding European affairs? Was Varoufakis a victim of Tsipras, of Europe or of his possible inconclusiveness?

 

It never ceases to amaze me the interest that continues to exist in the Western Left about Varoufakis. It is either a matter of political and ideological disorientation and/or of misinformation. In Greece it is evident nowadays that he and his personal political fiefdom (the caricature of a political party called MERA 25) are not part of the Left. He is a terrible opportunist and maverick. In theory he is a lesser Keynesian. But he changes masks according to the audience he is addressing. He even said that he is an erratic Marxist (sic!) although he is too erratic and too conservative to be a Marxist. He has well-known ties to the US liberal establishment. As a Finance Minister he agreed with the 80% of troika’s programme. His negotiation tactics with the EU was an utter mess: simply political pose and personal showing off without any serious strategic direction. His party is a personal fiefdom representing middle and small bourgeoisie strata that are socially radical and politically conservative. It has collected other political wannabees and opportunists and have little in common apart from personal ambitions. It exists mainly through the social media and, of course, it has no foundation in mass movements.

He was enlisted in the SYRIZA team, when the latter was preparing to assume the government, almost out of the blue. The main reason that Tsipras personally imposed him upon the previous economic team was Varoufakis’ international backing from circles of the US liberal establishment. As a Finance Minister Varoufakis proved very self-centered and served badly both SYRIZA and his international backers. In toto, he did more for himself than he did for his partners and backers. For this reason, once SYRIZA realized that the US was using it in their tug-of-war with the EU and was not pushing seriously for a debt haircut, the use-value of Varoufakis was exhausted. Moreover, his flamboyant posing made him a suitable sacrifice for the necessary capitulation to the troika. Varoufakis attempted to accommodate himself in the new situation – he even voted for a first version of the third austerity programme – but it was too late for him. Furthermore, it seems that it had exhausted also his use-value for his foreign backers because he was proved to be too self-centered and too incompetent for policy-making. The only thing that, for the time being, he is useful is as a political (and basically electoral) tool.

 

  1. The same (in reference to Varoufakis) was protagonist of an almost cinematographic controversy, which posed the problem of how to react if the banking system and the monetary authorities turn their backs on a government, blocking the mechanisms for creating and transferring the liquidity that regulate the daily economy? From here the issue regarding the top secret Plan B narrated by the Greek newspaper Kathimerini, in which Varoufakis decided to involve a professor of Information Technologies from the Columbia University, in order to hack the computer system of the Greek Tax Agency and get control of the platform. He wanted to use an electronic infrastructure to transfer money between the Greeks in case of emergency, as Varoufakis clearly admits, creating a parallel banking system as a payment system capable of keeping the economy in gear for a little while. This measure was never approved, and according to our economic sensitivity (however limited) it could turn out to be a buffer solution: in your opinion, would such a strategy make sense to be adopted? Or rather, did it have a possibility of being successfully applied? Would you support it or would you suggest approaching the situation in another way?

 

Let us clear things first.

The so-called plan X of Varoufakis was simply an idea. Ironically, even close associates of him betrayed that it never existed as an operational plan. The basic idea was to organize a public system that could collect directly payments for citizens for covering their payments to the state. This would be independent from the banking system, which was grosso modo controlled by the ECB through the Bank of Greece. Then, this public system could evolve to make payments by the state and thus provide an alternative payments system. Such a mechanism needs time to be organized. It can give some limited degrees off freedom from the EU and the ECB. However, it cannot stand if it is confronted by the main financial system. In the best case it can sustain the state’s fiscal solvency for a limited period. Concluding, this plan could possibly buy some time – if it was operational – against EU’s pressure. But ultimately it will crumble so long as Greece remained withing the EU.

Concluding, this Varoufakis’ idea was another piece of half-baked wizardry. Furthermore, it was never formally accepted by SYRIA as it was afraid of doing even so.

However, the idea of using a parallel currency within a Left programme of disengagement from the EU and socialist transition can be useful. An economy of a country that revolts against the international imperialist order would face an unmerciful international pressure. This would probably mean that it would be cut off from international currencies necessary for buying much needed foreign goods. In such a case, the revolting country would need to safeguard and use with prudence whatever foreign reserves it has. In such cases the creation of two parallel currencies – one for foreign transactions and one for internal transactions – is a well-known tool. The Soviet Union (and also Cuba and others) have used it. Of course, there are other tools that can be used in conjunction or stand-alone (e.g. multiple exchange rates). The Greek revolutionary Left has discussed such ideas as part of a transitional programme. However, these tools can work only outside the EU and its EMU. They are useless if you remain shackled to it.

  1. In reference to the previous question, we cannot forget to mention the recent debates on the difficulties concerning leaving the EU (and we’re taking for granted this is even possible) and ask you a couple of questions about it. Your and Sergio Cesaratto’s article on the Italian website SinistraInRete describes how the Greek economic recovery was described by the European authorities as possible only through the strict austerity (prescribed first by the Troika, now under the supervision of the MES) bringing you to a unanimous conclusion: it’s not possible to rectify the fallacious Greek productive model imposed by the consequences of the access to the European single market, if not outside the current EU. Is, therefore, in your opinion, the EU completely unreformable? If so, how serious are the risks for exiting the EU according to your estimates, both for Greece and for Italy?

 

The European integration project is an imperialist project. This is its DNA. It was created as such; and more specifically as the economic and political back bone of the West in Europe in the face of the Eastern bloc. At that period, it was under the auspices of the US. It evolved as a separate imperialist pole essentially after the collapse of the Eastern bloc; although this tendency was already latent within it before. Its economic mechanism rests upon the imperialist (economic) exploitation of less developed economies. Its political record is equally dismal. Elites and big conglomerates dominate its functions.

This imperialist project cannot be reformed. This is a myth only for idiots. It has been floating for several decades – remember the euro-communist babblings – and it has been disproved by reality.

Moreover, this project is today in deep crisis. It cannot stand up to its main adversary, the US. It is riddled with internal problems and contradictions. Because of these, it is even more dangerous as it attempts to solve its problems by putting their burden on the backs of the peoples of Europe and other regions.

For countries like Greece and Italy breaking out form the shackles of the EU is indeed very difficult. It can certainly not be done the easy way because EU’s shaking house of cards cannot afford even minor disengagements from it. It is afraid that it would generate a domino process and lead to its total disintegration. For this reason, it reacts so violently against any such threat. Nevertheless, for the peoples of Europe – and particularly for those of the peripheral countries – there is no other way apart from struggling to disengage from this reactionary edifice. It is there only possibility for achieving a better future; if not for them at least for their children.

 

  1. It has been hypothesized, outside the institutions, to make the banking sector European by setting up a common clearing house in such a way as to be able to rebalance the profound inequalities between the member states’ economies. There has often been speculation about a common program to combat poverty supported via centralized fiscal policies and the abolition of harmful statutes, such as those relating to the policies that maintain the natural unemployment rate (the Lisbon Treaties is a primary case of such statutes). Do you think that those measures can be functional for a program of radical transformation of the European Union (potentially revolutionary, if you will) or are they just a pious illusion? There have also often been talks of creating alternative currencies valid only within national borders. In Italy this argument has been passed off as the political program of the right on the mini bonds, a non-forced “currency” given by the securitization of new debt: keeping the political instrumentalization of the topic aside, is the use of an alternative currency parallel to the euro a possible option to be used to move forward (this obviously requires a revision of the European treaties concerning the characteristics of the single currency), in your opinion?

There are many proposals by bourgeois perspectives that try to fix some of the growing problems and contradictions of the EU. The creation of a banking union (that is of a common supervisory mechanism and a common deposits’ insurance mechanism) that would unify the country-members’ banking systems and make them more stable. Another proposal are the common EU bonds (that will make borrowing costs the same). One problem of all these proposals is that they oblige the dominant euro-core economies to pay. But the very European integration project has been created for them to be better off. For this reason, they face their resolute opposition. Only in some cases (e.g. banking union) some limited and basically cosmetic steps have been taken.

Regarding the mini-bot proposal, I do not consider it as serious. Essentially, it resembles to the Varoufakis’ plan X and suffers from the same problems and deficiencies. I have refered to them in a previous question.

 

  1. In addition to the Europe of the fiscal compact and the trap of cofinancing, impossible to spend in a timely manner for Italy because of the risk of the infringement procedure, is there still hope for a European project?

As I said before, I do not think that there can be a common project of a social Europe within the framework of the EU.

But also, I think that it is highly improbable to emerge a common European movement leading to another direction. The class struggle in the various European countries is very differentiated and exhibits very uneven levels. Hence, in each country the class struggle – and within it the struggle for disengaging from the EU – will take its own path and its own timing.

  1. Do you consider the Eurosceptic program of communist or leftist political groups like the KKE and France Inoumise credible? In Italy, the Eurostop platform, for example, adopts the Euro-Mediterranean Dawn project of Marxist professor Luciano Vasapollo. Have you heard about this proposal and what are your thoughts about it? Is it a viable option?

To my knowledge, these are different positions.

The Greek KKE has a terribly hypocritical position. It argues that disengaging from the EU is insignificant because there will still be capitalism. So, it practically makes the absurd argument that first you achieve socialism and then you leave the EU. Of course, it hypocritically bypasses the argument that you cannot build socialism unless you have broken out from the EU first. KKE adopts this position today (contrary to its previous historical position about disengaging from the EU) not out of idiocy but out of political conformism. It knows very well that the anti-EU position is an anathema for the Greek bourgeoisie and KKE does not want to face its wrath as it is well established within the official political system. Marx had written that the Church of England does not care if you dispute the 99 out of its 100 articles of faith. However, it becomes wild if you dispute 1% of its property. KKE prefers to mouth big leftish declarations but abstains from challenging crucial elements of the bourgeois system.

The position of France Insoumise is different and it is typical of a short-sighted euro-scepticism that cannot challenge the EU. All those leftist Eurosceptics argue that there is a progressive alternative if you leave the European Monetary Union (EMU) but you stay within the EU (that is the Common Market and the political structures). This is an utterly stupid – if not hypocritical – position. The core of the imperialist and the economically exploitative mechanism of the European integration lies in the Common Market. The euro is a complimentary aspect. Also, the political mechanism of the European integration has in its genes the bourgeois prerogatives.

Finally, regarding proposals like that of L.Vasapollo I think that they are too good to be true. As I said before, the class struggle and the political consciousness of the working class and the popular strata is very different and uneven even in the euro-Mediterranean countries. Hence, their trajectories are quite different and not easy to converge. So, I do not see as feasible – at least at the time being – such a proposal.

 

  1. In 2004 you published a text which is almost impossible to find in Italy, «Forms of existence of abstract labor and value-form». Could you give us a view of your interpretation on the Marxian theory of value in relation to new schools of study (such as TSSI, the SSS or, closer to us, the Neue Marx Lektüre begun by Rubin and Pashukanis and completed by the works of Reichelt and Backhaus )?

This is a very big issue and cannot be addressed here. I will give only a few hints.

I consider that the essence of value is abstract labour. The latter is defined in the sphere of production and – at a first level – independently from money. Of course, in its full development, abstract labour is expressed through the general equivalent (that is money). For this reason, I maintain that Marx’s distinction between the internal measure of value (that is labour) and the external measure of value (that is money) is correct. Thus, approaches that identify directly abstract labour with money (like the New Solution to the Transformation Problem, or the value-form theorists) are erroneous.

I totally disagree with the Neue Lekture and M.Heinrich’s endeavours. They too equate abstract value with money. Moreover, they totally misrepresent Marx by arguing either that he did not had a Labour Theory of Value (as their habitual popularizer D.Harvey has written) or that he had a monetary theory of value. First, it has been shown not only by me but also by others, that their analysis has nothing to do with Pashukanis and especially Rubin. Rubin has explicitly said that the essence of value is abstract labour and it can be conceived independently from money. The Neue Lekture and their fellow-travelers are doing a terribly misrepresentation of his views. Second, the argument about a monetary theory of value is absurd and leads, ultimately, to the abandonment of the concept of value as redundant. The first so-called ‘Rubin School’ (Benetti, Cartelier etc.) has followed this road. The value-form theorists also did the same. Moreover, the Neue Lekture writers exhibit an unbelievable ignorance of the actual workings of a capitalist economy and simply occupy themselves with dubious philological interpretations of Marx’s works. Overall, I think that the Neue Lekture does a terrible disservice to Marxism. It disintegrates it as a coherent system. And its political connotations are equally disastrous: it leads Marxists to be the handmaidens of bourgeois reformism.

Finally, regarding the TSS, I do not agree with the way the model time.

  1. Do you consider the opposition to the EU of sovereignist organizations such as Salvini’s League credible/sincere/honest/reasonable/conceivable?

Well, I think that in several more developed European capitalisms (not in Greece) there are strong fractions of their bourgeoisies that are disappointed by the course of the European integration. More specifically, they are angered from the growing power of Germany and the cluster of economies around it. These are the main forces behind LePen and Salvini. These forces aspire to some other international alliances and usually look towards the US (see for example Boris Johnson). In this sense there maybe sincere in their confrontation with the EU. There may also strike some form of compromise (temporary or not).

In all cases this is a different road – and also a rival one – to that of the Left and the people. Their course is for a differently structured capitalism. And the costs for this transformation will be paid by the working class and the people. The road of the Left should be to struggle for disengaging from the EU as a first necessary step for creating socialism.

 

  1. How do you judge the recent victory of the center-right in Greece and what consequences will there be in your country’s relationship with European institutions?

SYRIZA, with its opportunism and its subservience to bourgeois interests, paved the way for the recent big victory of New Democracy. This right-wing government proceeds with a very aggressive policy. In terms of economic policy there is no serious difference between SYRIZA and ND. The directions of economic policy in Greece are being dictated by the Economic Adjustment Programme. The only thing that both the previous and this governments can do is to redistribute some of the so-called super-surplus (that is blood money stolen from the people and accumulated on top of the Programme’s targets). Both SYRIZA and ND gave tax allowances to capital. Their only difference is that SYRIZA taxed the small bourgeoisie and the upper working class and gave some peanuts to the precariat. The ND changes this by giving some peanuts to the small bourgeoisie and the upper working class.

In political and institutional matters, the ND proceeds with far-reaching reactionary changes (privatisations, police repression, trade unions laws, entrepreneuralisation of education etc.). This has already produced mass popular reactions. For the first time, after the stagnation of the SYRIZA era, there are again mass mobilisations and demonstrations in Greece.

The economic situation is on a razor’s end. There is no serious recuperation from the crisis and the economy lives on drugs. The debt problem remains huge. Apart from the internal causes, a possible new world economic crash would leave the Greek economy in tatters.

In these conditions, the EU on the one hand accommodates a bit ND’s policies. But on the other hand, it issues stern warnings and exerts pressure. It wants to avoid having to tackle an Italian problem together with a Greek problem; for example. But it does not want to leave Greece footloose because this will create a bad example to others and also new problems.

The US plays its cards both in the entrepreneurial front but also in the geopolitical one exerting its leverage in the Greek – Turkish rivalry.

 

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Comments by Stavros Mavroudeas on the political and economics issues concerning the pending 2019 elections for the European Parliament – Press TV News, 23-5-2019

Comments by Stavros Mavroudeas on the political and economics issues concerning the pending 2019 elections for the European Parliament.
The comments were made in Press TV News, 23-5-2019

Anti-EU popular reactions are on the rise against the anti-popular EU.

In Western and Northern Europe these reactions are being exploited by nationalist and extreme right-wing forces because the local Left shies away from expressing these just popular reactions.

On the contrary in Southern Europe there exist left-wing and progressive movements and parties that are against the EU. Thus, popular abhorrence goes mainly to them.

 

 

Collapse of the European Integration ‘is on the Cards’ – Sputniknews.com 5-1-2019

https://sputniknews.com/analysis/201901051071233435-eurozone-fragmentation-euro-economy-issue/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Collapse of the European Integration ‘is on the Cards’ – Professor

 

06:06 05.01.2019

With 2019 beginning and the EU as fractured as ever, increasing scrutiny has been placed by leading economists on the bloc’s single currency the EU. Which they argue has caused more harm than good.

Sputnik spoke with Stavros Mavroudeas, Professor of Political Economy at the University of Macedonia for more insight on the issue.

Sputnik: Is the Euro a failed project?

Stavros Mavroudeas: I think the Euro overall is a problematic project. It’s not a success story; it’s actually proving to be a story of a failure. The Euro is a part of the European integration project, and this in my opinion is an imperialist project.

Imperialism meaning; at least in Marxism, that a country or bloc of countries exploits other countries economically. The European integration was inaugurated the Second World War under the auspices of the US, with the aim of securing economically and politically Western Europe, from the Soviet threat.

 

© Sputnik / Alexey Filippov

 

It changed radically after the nineteen seventy three global capitalist crisis; because by then the US supremacy faltered, and there was another time after nineteen eighty nine, when the Soviet bloc collapsed.

By then the European integration acquired greater independence from the US and even aspired to dethrone it, as the new economic capitalist superpower of the world.

The former European Monetary Union is the necessary evolution of this course of European integration, because after the collapse of the Bretton Woods system, particularly its exchange rates system; that was based on the dollar and was a system of fixed exchange rates.

Once this system collapsed; and it did so because of the US under the Nixon administration withdrew from that system and acted unilaterally, then the European integration needed a currency for its common market.

They moved towards creating ultimately, after several previous failed attempts in creating the European Monetary Union, that is the Euro.

 

Sputnik: Would the collapse of the Euro mean the collapse of the EU?

Stavros Mavroudeas: I think that the possibility of either a collapse or a fragmentation of the European Integration and its monetary union is on the cards.

Now what would be the result of that? There are many possibilities; there would be an eruption of national rivalries and controversies, and that would be pretty bad, not only for Europe but also for the world.

Keep in mind two world wars began from Europe.

© Photo : Euro Banknote Memory

 

The other would be possibly the eruption and emergence of a new social movement of a progressive nature, workers movements in particular; that would change the landscape in Europe. This is I think a positive scenario and possibility.

In order to become a reality; it requires that the European Union and its monetary union would be destroyed. Both the European integration and monetary union are not mechanisms that can be reformed in a progressive way.

All attempts; even the limited ones, have failed so far and I don’ think there is any realistic possibility in these being implemented.

Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Stavros Mavroudeas and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

https://soundcloud.com/radiosputnik/has-the-euro-been-a-failed-experiment

 

Interview in SPUTNIK on the anniversary of the inauguration of the euro 4-1-2019

Below are the notes for my interview in SPUTNIK on the anniversary of the inauguration of the euro (4-1-2019).

The recording of the interview follows.

 

 

 

 

 

 

SPUTNIK NEWS 4-1-2019

 

20 years after its inauguration, is euro a success story?

 

Definitely not.

Euro is part of the European integration project. This is an imperialist project. It was inaugurated after the 2nd WW under the auspices of the US with the aim of securing economically and politically the Western Europe from the Soviet threat. It involved the economic exploitation (in Marxist terms) of less developed economies by the more developed Western European ones.

As US supremacy faltered – after the 1973 global capitalist crisis – and with the demise of the Eastern bloc the European integration acquired greater independence from the US and even aspired to dethrone it and become the new economic capitalist superpower.

Euro – the EMU- is the necessary evolution of this course of the European integration. It was necessary, particularly after the collapse of the Bretton Woods system and the increasing unilateralism of the US, as a foundation for the European Common Market. It was also necessary, in its bid to become a major international reserve currency, as a challenger to US dollar’s supremacy.

It is indeed a problematic currency. It is a multi-state currency without a unified state behind it.

It is issued by a peculiar central bank (ECB), which has not the guarantee of a unified state behind it. ECB cannot act as lender-of-last-resort for the governments of the EMU countries. And it is only preoccupied with inflation as its mandate precludes it from considering growth.

The EMU is lacking a banking union (thus the financial system over which is ‘presiding’ is fragmented along national lines). It is also lacking a fiscal union support (in the form of a significant EU fiscal budget that could make fiscal transfers from surplus to deficit economies) in order to equilibrate trade and capital account imbalances between its member economies.

All these problems emerged after the 2008 global capitalist crisis. One of its major consequences was the eruption of the EMU crisis as several euro-periphery economies (Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Cyprus) faced severe crises (that appeared as debt crises although they have more deeper structural roots). Moreover, the whole European Union edifice is being shattered by liquidationist tendencies. Typical examples are Brexit and the growing popular discontent in many other countries with the authoritarian and austeritarian nature of the EU (that assumes both left-wing and right-wing expressions).

These disruptive tendencies within the EU are based on the deeply anti-popular nature of the EMU as it instigates austerity against the workers not only in euro-periphery but also in euro-core economies.

They are also based on the increasing divergence between its member economies and the polarization between the strong euro-core and the weak euro-periphery economies. This polarization facilitates the euro-core (as it exploits economically the euro-periphery) but at the same time increases tensions both politically and economically (as EMU cannot become an Optimal Currency Area [OCA]).

Moreover, EU’s attempt to use the 2008 crisis as a means to surpass the US and the emerging China has backfired. Whereas US and China relaxed their monetary policy and employed expanding fiscal policy in order to bypass the crisis, the EU relaxed slightly its monetary policy and almost abstained from fiscal expansion. Its aim was to ‘keep its economy in shape’ while its competitors created bubbles. Furthermore, EU aimed to take advantage of its competitors’ bubbles and keep selling to them (particularly Germany and the internationally competitive euro-core economies); thus, increasing their trade surpluses. This plan failed as its international rivals subverted it in many ways. The result is that EU – and its EMU – became the ‘big patient’ of contemporary capitalism.

Concluding, euro is failing to (a) unify the EU area and (b) to challenge the US dollar’s supremacy. Because it is a deeply anti-popular mechanism, it foments popular discontent.

Overall, the prospects of the euro are not good. I would say that the possibility of its demise or its fragmentation (e.g. a smaller area, as smaller area plus a peripheral zone of currencies tied to it) is on the table; it is a realistic scenario. Also, it is a welcome, a positive possibility. The European integration and its monetary union are antipopular mechanisms. They cannot be reformed. The successive failure of even the slightest attempts to lessen their authoritarian and austeritarian nature is indicative. Now, this demise can come either from an eruption of nationalist rivalries or through progressive and left popular movements. In the first case it is a very dangerous path. Keep in mind that two world wars have begun from nationalist and imperialist conflicts in Europe. The second case is a positive course. It represents a glimmer of hope and paves the way for changing the currently horrible European landscape.

 

 

 

TROIKA’S ECONOMIC ADJUSTMENT PROGRAMMES FOR GREECE: HAVE THEY REALLY SUCCEEDED?, S. Mavroudeas, Oxford Brookes University lecture, 21/11/2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You are invited to an Economics External

Speaker event on the topic:

 

TROIKA’S ECONOMIC ADJUSTMENT PROGRAMMES FOR GREECE: HAVE THEY REALLY SUCCEEDED?

Stavros Mavroudeas

 

In August 2018 the EU and the Greek government declared the successful completion of the 3rd Economic Adjustment Programme (EAP) for Greece. They also explicitly implied that the Greek crisis is over. We dispute the statements made by the EU and the Greek government and argue that Greek EAPs (a) rest on a problematic understanding of the Greek crisis (as simply a debt crisis), (b) applied a disastrous policy recipe in an attempt to deal with the crisis, and (c) failed systematically to achieve their own milestones. We will analyse the theoretical background of these programmes which lie in the neo-conservative notions of pro-cyclicality and growth- creating austerity. We will show that the Greek EAP’s basic structure is a very problematic modification of the typical 1990s IMF’s Structural Adjustment Programmes (as it lacks the lever of currency devaluation and had a belated, half-baked and ineffective debt restructuring). Finally, we will discuss the systematic failure of the Greek EAPs in achieving their own goals.

 

Stavros Mavroudeas is Professor of Political Economy at the Department of Economics, University of Macedonia, Greece. His research focuses on Marxist Political Economy, Development Economics, History of Economic Thought, and Greek Economic History.

 

DATE: 21 November 2018

TIME: 12:00 – 13:30

VENUE: JHBB302

The FYROM 2018 referendum and its implications – BRAVE NEW EUROPE 7-10-2018

 

 

 

 

Brave New Europe

https://braveneweurope.com/stavros-mavroudeas-macedonia-the-fyrom-2018-referendum-and-its-implications

 

The FYROM 2018 referendum and its implications

Stavros Mavroudeas

 

The area and the identity of Macedonia has been a contested terrain for many decades. Leaving aside references to antiquity, its modern form has its roots in the birth of national states in the Balkans in the beginning of the 20th century with the protracted collapse of the Ottoman empire. During the latter’s rule the area of Macedonia has been inhabited by various ethnic groups. In the Balkans, Greeks were the first, from the 19th century, to acquire a national identity and to construct a national state. Slavic people, in the Macedonian area, were the last to follow in this road and significant segments of them oscillated for a considerable period between different competing national identities (primarily Greek and Bulgarian). After several local wars and two world wars the Balkan area had been stabilized with established nation states that had, to a great extent, homogenized their populations by all the means available. Nevertheless, there remained several contested areas and significant ethnic minorities within every Balkan nation state.

The modern Macedonian issue was born after the 2nd WW. The northern part of the Macedonian area belonged to Titoist Yugoslavia and was inhabited mainly by Slavs. The southern Macedonian area belonged to Greece, was more or less ethnically homogenized – particularly after the exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey – but also contained a Slavic ethnic minority. Before the 2nd WW the Macedonian area was claimed by Bulgaria also, by trying to patronize its Slavic populations. Yugoslavia, in order to secure its southern area – from both Greece and Bulgaria – promoted a distinct Macedonian identity for the people of its southern area. A necessary corollary of this was the promotion of irredentism as the whole Macedonian area was considered the rightful home of the Slavomacedonian people. As usually happens in such cases, the creation of a modern national identity tries to find roots in the ancient times: thus, the ridiculous Slavomacedonian claim on Alexander the Great and the ancient Macedonian kingdom that was, in the end, part of the Greek world.

On the other hand, Greece promoted its own irredentism by claiming that the whole Macedonia – and the Macedonian identity – belong to it. The internal Greek politics and particularly the Greek civil war painted in blood this project. The situation was stabilized during the Cold War era as the two main adversaries belonged to different camps. However, with the collapse of the Eastern bloc and particularly with the bloody disintegration of Yugoslavia under the auspices of the Western imperialisms, the whole situation destabilized abruptly. The big Western powers (the US and the EU) strived to expand their spheres of influence in the Balkans. Local elites and emerging bourgeoisies tried to expand their spaces and maneuvered between the big players. All of them fomented nationalisms as a means for their plans.

This is exactly what happened with the small former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). Once becoming separated from old Yugoslavia, it faced an acute existential problem as its miniscule political and economic size made it almost unviable. On top of that, the increase of its Albanian population endangered further its unity. This resulted in the exaggerated promotion of the Macedonian identity and the concomitant irredentism.

On the other side, Greek capitalism actually invaded economically FYROM’s and became one of the main Western economic powers in its economy. This was facilitated by FYROM’s drag in the EU’s orbit. Ironically, the bigger the political controversies between FYROM and Greece the bigger the economic influence of the latter in the former. Of course, all these under the wings and succumbing to the prevailing interests of the bigger Western powers. This resulted in a new stalemate: Greece blocked the further political integration of FYROM in the EU and NATO unless it dropped its Macedonian claims.

Recently, this stalemate became strained. The resurgence of Russia led the West to try to secure as much of the Balkan area it can under its influence. Thus, the incorporation of Montenegro, FYROM and possibly Serbia into NATO became a priority. This goes together with their incorporation in the EU (despite the increasing tensions between the US and the EU). For this reason, the West proceeds – extremely heavy-handedly and by blatantly neglecting existing political, social and national balances – to rearrange relationships and even to redraw borders in the very volatile Balkan area (which has produced several wars in the not very distant past).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Prespes agreement between Greece and FYROM is such a case. First, the West instigated almost openly a governmental change in FYROM by marginalizing a part of its elite that was subservient to the West but at the same time wanted a better deal with Greece. Then, the West employed the weak and completely subservient to US interests SYRIZA government to pass hurriedly a settlement with FYROM. The end result is a disaster for the peoples of the Balkans. Irrespective of the technical details of the agreement which do not matter, its authoritarian imperialist imposition aggravates nationalist tensions in both countries. Of course, the West is indifferent to this so long as it passes its plans. Afterall, in the end, it can play also with local nationalisms.

But there is a problem in these imperialist games: at some point people have to vote. Such a point was the referendum in FYROM. Despite the blatant Western intervention in internal affairs and the lack of even a major political party opposing the agreement (as the FYROM elite is terribly weak, corrupted and depended from the West), the majority of the population voted with their feet and by a meagre participation actually rejected the agreement. This was a terrible slap in the face to the Western arrogance. Furthermore, it showed the rapidly diminishing charm of the EU as the sweetener of joining it (and supposedly gaining economically) was turned down. Spontaneously, the people of the poorer Balkan country have probably sensed something that the Greek people learned through pain and tears the recent years: the EU is not the paradise but the hell for the peoples and for the countries laying in its periphery.

Nevertheless, the West did not learn its lesson and proceeds with greater impertinence. All of them – big and small, from NATO’s general secretary and the German foreign ministry to the preposterous Greek SYRIZA and FYROM politicians – pronounce the referendum as a success and demanded the implementation of the agreement. Their ludicrous argument is that 91% of those voting (that were merely the 35% of the eligible voters) supported the agreement. It does not require great intelligence to grasp that this is a direct insult to the very basic rules of democracy. Wouldn’t it be better if only a few ‘enlightened elites’ and foreign agents had voting rights instead of the whole population?

Notwithstanding, the West and its local stooges proceed to try to impose the agreement. Currently, their main effort is to practically bribe and/or blackmail some corrupt FYROM MPs in order to pass it the parliament. Ironically, Alexis Tsipras suggested so; probably banking on his well-known expertise on how turning a popular vote to its opposite. As an obedient puppet of his masters, he forgets that in this case it is the turn of his government to begin rocking dangerously.

The West’s plans for the Balkans are bringing again, few years after the bloody Yugoslavian disintegration, tensions and upheaval in the area. They are fomenting nationalism and promoting imperialist conflict. The peoples of the Balkans have nothing to gain from this.

Particularly for the poor populace of FYROM – and contrary to their elites – their country’s participation in the EU and NATO would worsen its condition. These are imperialist organisations infamous for sowing misery and wars in their path. The participation in the EU would make the weak and already dependent FYROM economy even weaker. Greece, and the other euro-peripheral economies have a bitter taste from this participation that made their economies weaker and simple appendages of those of the euro-core economies. It is indicative that other Balkan economies linked to the EU were lucky not to participate at least in the European Monetary Union (EMU). This shielded them from grave consequences during and after the global capitalist crisis of 2008. Moreover, NATO is always the long arm of US aggression and its record is well-known. Instead of stabilization and peace it brings conflicts and war. Its march to the East sows gunpowder in the Balkans.

Concluding, the failure of the Western plans for the Balkans is the only way to keep the possibility of amicable and cooperative relations between the Balkan peoples alive.

 

Short intervention in RT on the FYROM referendum – 1-10-2018

The video of a short intervention in Russia Today (RT International) News on the FYROM referendum

 

 

 

The coverage in RT’s webpage follows

 

https://www.rt.com/news/440060-macedonia-referendum-western-flop/

 

Macedonia’s failed referendum is blow to Western lobbyists, but govt will seek to join NATO anyway

Published time: 1 Oct, 2018 17:17 Edited time: 2 Oct, 2018 08:57

Protesters shout out slogans about boycotting the referendum on changing the country’s name that would open the way for it to join NATO and the European Union in Skopje, Macedonia September 30, 2018. © Marko Djurica / Reuters

 

It’s not surprising that Western leaders failed to drum up support for Macedonia’s referendum, experts told RT, suggesting that Skopje’s vow to ignore the result and push ahead with EU and NATO membership is even less shocking.

Despite the slew of Western dignitaries who poured into Skopje to lobby for the measure, most Macedonians chose to stay home for Sunday’s non-binding referendum, which would have opened the door for EU and NATO membership.

Some 90 percent voted in support of the referendum, which asked: «Are you for EU and NATO membership by accepting the agreement between the Republic of Macedonia and the Republic of Greece?» but with around 36 percent turnout, the results were invalidated. Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said after the vote that he remains committed to renaming the country North Macedonia, resolving a name dispute with neighboring Greece and paving the way for EU and NATO membership.

READ MORE: Macedonia PM vows to push for name change after referendum fails to reach 50% threshold

The underwhelming turnout, coupled with the government’s defiant pledge to carry on with the name change despite its unpopularity, highlights the deep divide between the country’s people and its political elite, analysts told RT. They said that the dismal result is a kick in the teeth to Western leaders and top officials who visited the country ahead of the ill-fated vote.

Western meddling?

While the incredibly low turnout presents an unexpected setback for Zaev, it’s also a defeat for his Western sponsors, Elena Guskova, head of the Modern Balkan Crisis Studies Center of the Slavic Studies Institute at the Russian Academy of Sciences, told RT.

Enormous efforts were taken by Brussels and Washington to make Macedonia’s accession to the European bloc, and the famously offensive defensive alliance, as seamless as possible. Just in the past week alone, a deluge of Western dignitaries graced the Macedonian capital, including German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, US Defense Secretary James Mattis, and European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel also paid their respects earlier this month.

Read more

Western leaders descend on Macedonian ‘battleground’ as Moscow pulls its punches

The «pro-Western» Macedonian prime minister relied upon the help of Washington and Brussels to push through the referendum and resolve the name issue with Athens, Guskova said.

«It is very important for the West to unweave this knot and to remove the influence Russia can potentially exert on Macedonia. That is why [the West] strived so much for this referendum to succeed.»

Ironically, Defense Secretary Mattis accused Moscow of meddling in Macedonia’s internal affairs during his visit to Skopje, and already, accusations have surfaced that Russia «sought to prevent the Macedonians from going to the polls.»

«They de facto blame Russia for the low turnout,» Guskova noted, adding that the «humiliating» name change was the real motivating factor behind the referendum result.

The blame game may also be motivated by wounded pride: the West’s sudden and intense interest in Macedonia – Merkel’s visit marked the first time a German chancellor had travelled to the country, for example – seems to have accomplished little aside from highlighting the disconnect between the country’s leaders and its people.

«There is a huge discrepancy between the political elite in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and its people,» Stavros Mavroudeas, professor of political economy at the Department of Economics in the University of Macedonia, told RT. «The political elite in Skopje is subservient to the Western powers – the EU and US. This creates a gap.»

Turning lemons into NATO membership

Although it appears that Macedonians are less than enthusiastic about the name change, NATO and Washington have hailed the referendum’s result as a victory. «I welcome the yes vote in [the Macedonia] referendum. I urge all political leaders [and] parties to engage constructively [and] responsibly to seize this historic opportunity. #NATO’s door is open, but all national procedures have to be completed,» Stoltenberg tweeted.

 Jens Stoltenberg @jensstoltenberg

I welcome the yes vote in referendum. I urge all political leaders & parties to engage constructively & responsibly to seize this historic opportunity. #NATO’s door is open, but all national procedures have to be completed.

12:16 AM – Oct 1, 2018

 

Responding to the vote, the US State Department urged Macedonia’s parliament to go forward with the name change, which would require a two-thirds majority, calling on the country’s lawmakers «to rise above partisan politics» and «secure a brighter future for the country as a full participant in Western institutions.»

The EU’s Enlargement Commissioner, Johannes Hahn, echoed a similar position, telling all parties to «respect this decision and take it forward with utmost responsibility and unity across party lines.»

READ MORE: Referendum turnout in Macedonia shows voters boycott decisions imposed from outside – Moscow

Like so many of the «non-binding» referendums used to rubber-stamp EU and NATO membership over the past decade, it appears that the will of the people can be ignored when the political elite decide that the stakes are too high.

 

Interview on the FYROM referendum – SPUTNIK NEWS 30-9-2018

Following is (a) the full transcript of my interview in SPUTNIK NEWS on the FYROM referendum and (b) its coverage in SPUTNIK’s webpage (together with the directly opposite (sic!) views of Papadimoulis)

 

Sputnik News

30/9/2018

https://sputniknews.com/europe/201809301068460080-macedonia-referendum-sunday/

  1. What are your expectations from the outcomes of the referendum?

I expect that the ‘yes’ will prevail in the FYROM referendum on the Prespes Lakes’ agreement. The pressure applied upon the populace of this small and weak country by the major Western powers (both the US and the EU) is formidable. All the important EU leaders have passed from the country and pressed unbashfully for the acceptance of the agreement. The US did also the same. In normal circumstances these acts would amount to blatant foreign intervention in internal affairs reminiscent of colonial powers. Thus, despite the initial reactions (that sometimes were extremely violent) even the opposition parties refrain from even campaigning for a ‘no’ vote. There is a small possibility that voters’ participation might not be massive enough so as to legitimize the result. But it has already been declared that in this case the agreement will be put for vote in the parliament. In a nutshell, the big Western powers are very determined to impose the agreement which puts another brick in making the Western Balkans the West’s ‘backyard’. The local ruling class is too thirsty for power and money and too subservient to the West. So, it does not dare even to try to reform the agreement. And, the people of FYROM are too poor and terribly disorientated by ethnic divisions and weak political consciousness. Hence, they ‘buy’ unquestionably the deceiving tale that ‘they will become Europeans’ and their economic misery will be removed.

2. Do you think that the positive vote results will lift all remaining disagreements between Greece and Macedonia? How do you see further development of bilateral relations?

There are two separate issues here. The one is the relationship between the people of the two countries. And the second is the relationship between the elites of the two countries. It would be wonderful if this agreement brought friendship between the people of the two countries.

Unfortunately, the purpose of this agreement is not this. It has been pushed upon both countries by the big Western powers in order to control the situation in the Balkans. The West (and EU and the US are in tandem in this despite their differences) is afraid of losing ground in this unstable and turbulent area. Hence, it tries to close issues in the area in order to engulf it in the EU and NATO. The Prespes agreement is part of this strategy (as is the idea of a land exchange between Serbia and Kosovo). However, the way the West tries to impose its order in practice foments national rivalries. It disregards national and popular aspects and attempts to redraw borders and relations in the way colonial officials in the past have drawn borders between countries by straight pencil lines. It is well known that this old practice did not solve but, on the contrary, aggravated national tensions. Of course, this enabled the old colonial powers to pose as arbiters. This is the game the West is playing in the Balkans. In fact, the Prespes agreement has fomented nationalist and far-right trends in both countries and actually worsened the possibility of amicable relations between the people of the two countries.

On the other hand, the elites of the two countries paly a different game. The Greek elite is stronger and Greek capital has swamped the weak economy of FYROM, despite the diplomatic tensions. The Greek elite will try to take advantage of an even more open access to FYROM (although the latter’s economy is, legally or illegally, very open to foreign capitals already). FYROM’s elite will try to ameliorate its position by linking itself closer to Western interests. However, these are the ‘little mice’ in this game. The ruler of the game and the one that will dictate who is going to win and who is going to lose is the West.

3. What consequences do you see in case of negative vote of the referendum on name change?

A ‘no’ vote would throw into disarray Western plans in the Balkan area. It won’t necessarily create more instability than that already existing. One positive aspect would be that EU’s and NATO’s grip in the area will be weakened.

4. What benefits and consequences do you see in case of Macedonia joining the EU and NATO?

I do not see any benefit from FYROM’s participation in the EU and NATO. These are imperialist organisations infamous for sowing misery and wars in their path. The participation in the EU would make the weak and already dependent FYROM economy even weaker. Greece, and the other euro-peripheral economies have a bitter taste from this participation that made their economies weaker and simple appendages of those of the euro-core economies. It is indicative that other Balkan economies connected to the EU were lucky not to participate at least in the European Monetary Union (EMU). This shielded them from grave consequences during and after the global capitalist crisis of 2008. The people of FYROM will learn probably through the hard way something that the Greek people learned similarly: the EU instead of gifts and wealth brings pain and poverty. Moreover, NATO is always the long arm of US aggression and its record is well-known. Instead of stabilization and peace it brings conflicts and war.

 

 

https://sputniknews.com/europe/201809301068460080-macedonia-referendum-sunday/

National Referendum on Macedonia Name Change to Be Held on Sunday

01:22 30.09.2018

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Referendum on name change from the Republic of Macedonia to the Republic of Northern Macedonia will be held in the country on Sunday.

Almost 2 million citizens will head to the polls to answer the question «Are you in favor of European Union and NATO membership by accepting the agreement between the Republic of Macedonia and the Republic of Greece?» For the results of the referendum to be valid the turnout must be at least 50 percent.

The referendum was scheduled following the signing of an agreement on renaming of the country to the Republic of North Macedonia by Macedonian and Greek foreign ministers on June 17. The document thus put an end to a 25-year dispute over the use of «Macedonia» name, which Greece has been objecting as this is also the name of one of its regions.

Referendum is Likely to Result in ‘Yes’ Vote

Macedonia’s President Gjorge Ivanov has decried an agreement that would change the country’s name calling on his compatriots to boycott the vote on the deal that takes place on September 30. At the same time, the EU enlargement commissioner, Johannes Hahn, delivered an impassioned speech urging the Macedonians to vote in referendum to change their country’s name to the Republic of North Macedonia.

© AP Photo / Boris Grdanoski

EU Commission: Macedonia’s Name Vote Should Be Free From Foreign Influence

Professor of Political Economy at Department of Economics in the University of Macedonia Stavros Mavroudeas told Sputnik that the pressure upon the citizens of small Macedonia for the «yes» vote exerted by both the United States and the European Union was incredible.

«I expect that the ‘yes’ will prevail in the FYROM referendum on the Prespes Lakes’ agreement … All the important EU leaders have passed from the country and pressed unbashfully for the acceptance of the agreement. The US also did the same,» Dr. Mavroudeas said.

The expert noted that in normal circumstances such actions of the Western powers would amount to blatant foreign intervention in internal affairs reminiscent of colonial powers.

Vice President of the European Parliament and head of the Greek ruling SYRIZA party’s delegation Dimitrios Papadimoulis in his comments to Sputnik expressed strong support to the «yes» vote at the referendum.

«We are strongly supporting Prime Minister Zoran Zaev’s government to that end, and we do believe that a positive outcome from the referendum would be beneficial for FYROM’s EU integration process,» Papadimoulis said.

The lawmaker also stressed big support to the great commitment that Greek and Macedonian governments have shown toward reaching a mutually beneficial agreement after more than two decades of stagnation and nationalist decline.

Dr. Mavroudeas added that there was a small possibility that voters’ participation might not be massive enough so as to legitimize the result, however, it has already been declared that in this case the deal would be put for vote in the parliament.

«Western powers are very determined to impose the agreement which puts another brick in making the Western Balkans the West’s ‘backyard,’» the expert added.

Consequences of ‘No’ Vote

© AP Photo / Boris Grdanoski

Mattis to Fly to Skopje to Show US Support for Macedonia Joining NATO – Pentagon

In early August, a group of about 30 civic associations, political parties and NGOs, led by the United Macedonia party, launched a campaign for boycotting the name deal referendum. The so-called crisis headquarters is now made up of more than 70 organizations, political parties and patriotic movements, according to the party’s president Janko Bachev.

«I would say that a negative outcome would not be the best option for FYROM, its efforts to accelerate EU integration process and deal with a number of social and economic issues,» Papadimoulis said.

In turn, Dr. Mavroudeas expressed his opinion that a ‘no’ vote would throw into disarray Western plans in the Balkan area.

«It won’t necessarily create more instability than that already existing. One positive aspect would be that EU’s and NATO’s grip in the area will be weakened,» the expert said.

Development of Greece-Macedonia Relations

Papadimoulis stressed that in case of the deal acceptance by Macedonia’s citizens a new chapter of cooperation would be opened in relations between Greece and Macedonia and both countries could work closely in good spirit to deal with all issues.

«I believe that the deal between Greece and FYROM is a good deal, one that puts forward the interests of both countries and enhances security and good neighborly relations,» the lawmaker said.

Dr. Mavroudeas noted that there was a need to separate relationships between the people of the two countries and the relationships between the elites of the two countries.

«Unfortunately, the purpose of this agreement is not this [to bring friendship between the people of the two countries]. It has been pushed upon both countries by the big Western powers in order to control the situation in the Balkans,» the expert said.

© AP Photo / Matt Dunham

Concerned About Russian ‘Mischief,’ US Defense Secretary to Visit Macedonia

He added that the EU and the US were trying to close issues in the area in order to engulf it in the EU and NATO and that the Prespes agreement is part of this strategy along with the idea of a land exchange between Serbia and Kosovo.

«In fact, the Prespes agreement has fomented nationalist and far-right trends in both countries and actually worsened the possibility of amicable relations between the people of the two countries,» Dr. Mavroudeas said.

What Will Macedonia’s EU And NATO Membership Bring

«Regional security will be strengthened, bilateral and multilateral cooperation will be advanced and the entire Balkan region could enter into a new era of enhanced cooperation,» Papadimoulis said.

The lawmaker added that political, economic, commercial synergies could multiply something important for all adjacent states.

However Dr. Mavroudeas expressed opinion of no benefit in Macedonia’s participation in the EU and NATO.

«The participation in the EU would make the weak and already dependent FYROM economy even weaker. Greece and other euro-peripheral economies have a bitter taste from this participation that made their economies weaker and simple appendages of those of the euro-core economies,» Dr. Mavroudeas said.

 

Way the Referendum Over Macedonia Naming Formulated Is ‘Scam in Itself’ – Author

The expert highlighted that the people of Macedonia would probably learn through the hard way something that the Greek people learned similarly, that the EU instead of gifts and wealth brings pain and poverty.

«Moreover, NATO is always the long arm of US aggression and its record is well-known. Instead of stabilization and peace it brings conflicts and war,» the expert stated.

The country’s new constitutional name will open the way for Macedonia’s accession to the European Union and NATO, which has long been blocked by Athens over concerns that the neighboring country might have territorial claims to Greece’s own region of the same name.

 

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 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

2-5-2017

 

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

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.