Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Stathis Kouvelakis there is still time to avoid a Greek Tragedy while senior Greek Government Officals see divergence not convergence dominating current talks

Helena Smith Reporting for Guardian Newspaper on 24th June 2015

Over in Athens, the view this morning is that a deal with creditors has never been “so near or so far away,”

Senior government officials are saying openly this morning that divergence rather than convergence is now dominating talks.

Outstanding differences are such that insiders have begun to question whether creditors want an agreement at all.

The International Monetary Fund’s apparent insistence that proposed taxes on businesses be withdrawn, putting a greater burden on wage earners and pensioners, has ignited fury.

“It is as if they don’t want to reach a deal with a government of the left,” said one well-placed source.
“What the hell are they doing insisting that the vulnerable carry the weight of measures once again? It hasn’t worked before and it is not going to work now.”
The front page headline of the Ta Nea newspaper today is indicative of the mood.

“They are demanding another €700m to close the deal,” the authoritative daily screamed from its front page.

Prime minister Alexis Tsipras has not been helped by the signs of mounting dissent within his own Syriza party over his leftist-led government’s proposed reforms.

At least ten MPS have indicated they will not support a deal as the proposals currently stand; at least ten more are wavering and it remains unclear what hardliners, gathered under the Left Platform faction led by energy minister Panagiotis Lafazanis will do.

The minister, so far, has been uncharacteristically coy about what stance he - or his followers - will take saying he will only decide once a final deal is on the table. Those who advocate a return to the drachma have, if anything, been emboldened by the growing outcry over measures that at €8bn will do a great deal to further impoverish Greeks.

“Approval of the agreement or elections, the dilemma of the government,” declared another daily, Ethnos, from its front page.
“The ball is now with Syriza MPs.”


An appeal to all friends of the Greek people and to everyone who has stood by it for all these years

Dear friends and comrades,

 Without doubt you will already have understood that something very serious indeed is now coming to pass. After the test of strength waged across the last several months, pitting the Troika of lenders against the Greek government – whose election represented an immense hope for all the forces fighting against austerity and neoliberalism in Europe – the Greek side is now in the process of giving in. The last set of proposals sent by Athens represented its acceptance of the fundamentals of the lenders’ demands.

 This is nothing less than a new plan for austerity, a new €8bn purge, the bulk of which will fall on the shoulders of employees and pensioners. Such a package of measures, which is on every point comparable to the potion that has been administered to the country without relent across the last five years, can only lead to further recession, unemployment and poverty. And this in a country that has already lost a quarter of its GDP in five years, where unemployment has struck more than one in four of the active population and where a third of people are living below the poverty line.

Dear friends and comrades,

 We will have to draw up a political balance sheet of the trajectory that has taken this government – which bore a popular hope that extended well beyond this small country’s borders – to the point at which we now find ourselves.

 But that is not the task of the moment.

 At this present hour, we must mobilise and exert pressure:

- on the Greek government, as long as the agreement remains yet to be signed, such that does not commit an irreparable mistake. The Syriza government’s capitulation would have incalculable consequences for the progressive forces in Europe and worldwide – and we must make this message felt.

 - on the Syriza parliamentary group, such that its MPs do not vote through an agreement that on every point contradicts the mandate that the Greek people gave them less than six months ago.

Dear friends and comrades,

 I want to tell you that thousands of Syriza militants are fighting, and will continue to fight, in very difficult conditions, so that the people’s hope and the struggles of all these years are not squandered.

Understand: significant social forces will not allow themselves to be misled by the onrush of propaganda that seeks to hide the reality and prepare the terrain for surrender and dishonour.

All these forces are in vital need of international support.

There is still time to avoid a fresh Greek tragedy, which can only be a tragedy for all the forces fighting and resisting in Europe and across the world.

Stick by our side!

 Let’s keep up the struggle!

 Troika, hands off Greece!


Stathis Kouvelakis, London, 23 June 2015

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