GREEK Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has said he is confident that agreement can be reached with creditors over the repayment of ‘Greece’s debts’, and that he had never intended to act unilaterally and declare the debt null and void.
His statement was in response to German Chancellor Merkel’s statement that she had ruled out debt cancellation, saying creditors had already made concessions and that she did not ‘envisage fresh debt cancellation’.
She continued to tell the Hamburger Abendblatt: ‘There has already been voluntary debt forgiveness by private creditors – banks have already slashed billions from Greece’s debt.’
PM Tsipras’ Syriza party won the general election and made a pledge to have half the debt written off.
Its new Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis refused to work with the ‘Troika’ of global institutions overseeing Greek debt, which had agreed a 240bn euro bailout with the previous Greek government.
The Troika is made up of the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund. Greece still has a debt of 315bn euros – about 175% of gross domestic product.
Tsipras now says, ‘Despite the fact that there are differences in perspective, I am absolutely confident that we will soon manage to reach a mutually beneficial agreement, both for Greece and for Europe as a whole.’
Greek unemployment meanwhile is at 25%, with youth unemployment at 50%, while the economy has shrunk by 25% since the start of the eurozone crisis.
Jeroen Dijsselbloem, chairman of the eurozone finance ministers’ group, welcoming Tsipras’ comments, responded: ‘It is now up to the Greek government to determine its position on how to move forward … Further decisions will be taken jointly in the Eurogroup in the coming weeks.’
Meanwhile, EU economic and financial affairs commissioner Pierre Moscovici told the BBC that the Greek government had to respect previous commitments.
Back in Greece, the government, a coalition formed when Syriza took in the right-wing Independent Greeks party (Anel), making its leader Kammenos, Defence Minister, is rapidly finding its class position. Kammenos is on record as saying that Greek Jews did not pay taxes.
The Greek government has appointed Yiannis Roubatis as the head of the Greek Intelligence Service (KYP). In the 1980s Roubatis was an advisor to PASOK Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou and in the 1990s a Euro MP of social-democratic PASOK.
The Athens University professor Yiannis Panousis, an ex-PASOK and Democratic Left parliamentary deputy, has been made Deputy Minister for Internal Affairs in charge of the police. In the past Panousis has missed no opportunity to attack demonstrating youth and defend savage riot police violence.
These moves place all Greek army, police and security services, counter-revolutionary to the core, in the hands of openly anti-working class, ruling class forces.
In fact, the working class is being placed under the threat of a military coup, and a new regime of Colonels, when it refuses to accept what Syriza is about to negotiate with Merkel and Co.
Last Friday, the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras lifted the ‘civil mobilisation’ dictatorial order on the workers of the State Electricity Board that had been imposed by the previous government during last June’s strike.
However, on the same day, the Deputy Minister for Reforms Yiorghos Katrougalos met the Executive Committee of the ADEDY (public sector workers federation) and told them that there will be no restoration of wages and pensions this year at all!
Katrougalos promised the abolition of the hated ‘workers’ evaluation process’ and the reinstatement of some 3,500 public sector workers ‘unconstitutionally dismissed’.
But ADEDY EC member Stavros Koutsioubelis said that the number of sacked public sector workers in the least two years exceeds 10,500. Koutsioubelis said that the reinstatement of all sacked workers is ‘the basis’ for dialogue with the government.
However, it is becoming painfully obvious that much more than an attempted dialogue with the government is necessary.
The working class must mobilise and organise to defend its interests against the weak Syriza bourgeois regime and its military police protectors.
Councils of Action must be organised in every city and town to mobilise all workers and youth to restore all sacked workers to their jobs, to demand the sacking of the openly capitalist ministers, the reopening of all bankrupted industries, the nationalisation of all banks and major industries under workers’ control, the development of a national plan to provide education and jobs for youth, the disbandment of the riot police and the army officer corp, and the cancellation of all ‘debt’ to the Troika.
The working class must answer Syriza’s move to the right by pushing forward its own programme for the organisation of a socialist revolution, to put an end to Greek capitalism, break with the EU and fight for the establishment of a Socialist United States of Europe.