Capitulation

Note kindly translated by Anne-Marie de Grazia

In the early morning of Monday, July 13th, the Greek Prime-Minister, Mr Alexis Tsipras, capitulated at last. He capitulated under insane pressures from Germany, but also from France, from the European Commission and from the Eurogroup. But he capitulated. For there is no other word to designate the agreement which was imposed upon him by the Eurogroup, then by the various European leaders, holding the gun – or more precisely the threat of an expulsion from the Eurozone – to his head. This capitulation will have dramatic consequences, in Greece to begin with, where austerity will continue to be deployed, but also inside the European Union. The conditions under which this capitulation has been wrested shatters to smithereens the myth of a united and pacified Europe, of a Europe of solidarity and compromises. We have seen Germany obtain from Greece what the ancients called a Carthaginian peace. We know that this has been the position of Mr Dijsselbloem, the President of the Eurogroup, from the beginning[1]. We have seen with sadness, but also with anger, France bow to most of the German demands, whatever our President may now be saying.

This July 13th is and will remain in history a day of mourning, both for democracy and for Europe.

 

A detestable agreement

This agreement is detestable for several reasons. It is so in the economic domain. It bleeds the Greek economy anew, without giving it the necessary supply of oxygen which it needed. The increase in fiscal pressure without counterparts will have disastrous consequences for the Greek economy. This is the pursuit of austerity in the purest logic of Pierre Laval in France, but above all of Brüning in Germany or McDonald in Great-Britain, these two tragic figures of the thirties who aggravated through their policies the consequences of the crisis of 1929. The demand of enhanced fiscal pressure, the new cuts in spending are by no means accompanied by the massive investment plan which could have compensated, at least in part, for its effects. We must note that, for instance, the Greek government must commit itself to: “carry out ambitious pension reforms and specify policies to fully compensate for the fiscal impact of the Constitutional Court ruling on the 2012 pension reform and to implement the zero deficit clause or mutually agreeable alternative measures by October 2015.” In other words, the Greek government is asked to compensate for the judgement of the constitutional court which had overturned the reform of pensions in 2012. In brief, the logic of austerity is here proclaimed to be more important than the constitution of a sovereign state[2].

This agreement is also detestable in the financial domain. It engages the European Stability Mechanism, or ESM. But this engagement is destined to grow regularly. The Greek economy will, indeed, continue to founder into depression. Tax resources will stagnate overall, even diminish, and this even if the tax pressure is increased, as foreseen in the agreement. The debt will therefore become heavier in proportion to the wealth produced. Concerning this debt, its reprofiling – a barbarian term designating an extension of payment delays on the principal and a deferment on interests – does not resolve anything. We know, the International Monetary Fund itself has said so, that part of the Greek debt must be restructured, meaning, cancelled. But Germany is still refusing this obstinately. In a short time, one will need again to find money for Greece. This is one of the reasons why this plan is detestable and doesn’t solve anything, either economically or financially.

An agreement of a neo-colonial type

Finally, this plan is detestable for a third reason. Politically, it results in putting Greece under tutelage, assimilating it de facto to a colony deprived of any real right. Not only is the Greek parliament summoned to vote in all haste some reforms, with two cut-off dates, July 15th and 22nd[3], but it will forthwith have to submit the various measures to be taken to the control and to the goodwill of the European institutions. One particular paragraph of the agreement is very significant. It says the following: « The government needs to consult and agree with the Institutions on all draft legislation in relevant areas with adequate time before submitting it for public consultation or to Parliament.” [4].

This is the reestablishment of what the Greeks are calling the “regime of the Troika,” which they had repudiated in the January 25th elections. And this is probably the most unheard of result of this agreement. It is tantamount to annulling free and democratic elections, to affirming that rules dictated in Brussels have more weight than the democratic process. One will have to remember this for, from this point of view, this agreement does not concern the Greeks alone; it threatens all the peoples of the Eurozone. It threatens us, too, the French. And this is why the fact that our President, Mr François Hollande, lent itself to this crime, for there is no other word to qualify this agreement in the political domain, must fill us with fear. In accepting to put his signature at the bottom of this agreement, in accepting to have it voted before the end of the week in the French Parliament, François Hollande becomes herewith an accomplice to the strangulation of democracy in Greece, but also in the whole of the Eurozone.

Going still further, this agreement organizes the spoliation of the Greek population in the leonine paragraph concerning privatizations and which harks back directly to what was called in the XIX. century “gunboat politics» “gunboat diplomacy”. This paragraph stipulates indeed that the Greek government must: “develop a significantly scaled up privatisation programme with improved governance; valuable Greek assets will be transferred to an independent fund that will monetize the assets through privatisations and other means. The monetization of the assets will be one source to make the scheduled repayment of the new loan of ESM and generate over the life of the new loan a targeted total of EUR 50bn of which EUR 25bn will be used for the repayment of recapitalization of banks and other assets and 50 % of every remaining euro (i.e. 50% of EUR 25bn) will be used for decreasing the debt to GDP ratio and the remaining 50 % will be used for investments.” [5]. This means to say that Greece will only be able to use 50% of 25 billion, that is 12,5 billion, resulting from privatizations, for investments. However, these sums will not be at disposal – if they ever will be some day – before two or three years.

When one hears François Hollande state in the morning of July 13th that the sovereignty of Greece has been preserved, one may judge that our President has a questionable taste in making jokes. It is adding insult to injury. For Greek sovereignty has indeed been trampled by the Eurogroup and by Germany, helped and abetted by France. This is why this July 13th will be a day of mourning for those who defend democracy, sovereignty, and the freedom of the peoples.

The question of the Euro

François Hollande states that his action has saved the Euro. It is clear that if Germany had imposed the expulsion of Greece out of the Eurozone, this would have triggered in a relatively short term the process of dissolution of said zone. But maintaining Greece in the Eurozone by no means saves the Euro. On the one side, because the economic and financial problems of Greece are not solved. On the other hand, because other countries are at present in great difficulties, particularly our neighbour, Italy.

The Euro is, as proof has been administered to us today, indissolubly linked with the politics of austerity. The economic policies carried on in the Eurozone, consolidated by diverse treaties, particularly the last TSCG ratified in September 2012, can only lead to austerity. For those who had not understood by now, it is today perfectly clear: the Euro is austerity. Of course, there can be austerity policies without the Euro. But the Euro in reality implies policies of austerity and all policies implemented within the framework of the Euro lead to austerity. One must understand the deep meaning of this statement. Today, as long as one is remaining in the Eurozone, it will be impossible to conduct another economic policy than the one of austerity. For not having understood this, Alexis Tsipras has put his own head on the block.

This observation is destined to becoming the true line of cleavage of French politics in the months and years to come. For, what François Hollande has saved in reality, is nothing else but austerity. We know that he made this choice in 2012. He has not changed it. He will therefore need to be judged on this at the next elections.

[1] VAROUFAKIS: POURQUOI L’Allemagne REFUSE D’ALLÉGER LA DETTE DE LA GRÈCE, http://blogs.mediapart.fr/blog/monica-m/120715/varoufakis-pourquoi-lallemagne-refuse-dalleger-la-dette-de-la-grece

[2] Declaration of the summit of the Eurozone, Brussels, July 12th, 2015, page 3.

[3] The text of the agreement specifies that the latter will only be valid under the following conditions: “Immediately, and only subsequent to legal implementation of the first four above-mentioned measures as well as endorsement of all the commitments included in this document by the Greek Parliament, verified by the Institutions and the Eurogroup, may a decision to mandate the Institutions to negotiate a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) be taken.” Declaration of the summit of the Eurozone, Brussels, July 12th, 2015, page 2.

[4] Declaration of the summit of the Eurozone, Brussels, July 12th, 2015, page 5.

[5] Declaration of the summit of the Eurozone, Brussels, July 12th, 2015, page 4.

 


Jacques Sapir

Ses travaux de chercheur se sont orientés dans trois dimensions, l’étude de l’économie russe et de la transition, l’analyse des crises financières et des recherches théoriques sur les institutions économiques et les interactions entre les comportements individuels. Il a poursuivi ses recherches à partir de 2000 sur les interactions entre les régimes de change, la structuration des systèmes financiers et les instabilités macroéconomiques. Depuis 2007 il s'est impliqué dans l’analyse de la crise financière actuelle, et en particulier dans la crise de la zone Euro.

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