SYRIZA policy going into the general election, through which it came to office, was to write off most of Greece’s 322bn euro debt.
It demanded a European Debt Conference modelled on the write-off of half of Germany’s post-World War Two debt. It said that it was going to scrap the bail-out.
Instead, it has capitulated to the troika of the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and the IMF to gain a four-month extension of the bail-out, and has taken over the position of the former New Democracy-PASOK coalition to become the troika’s government in Greece.
The Eurogroup of EU finance ministers said in a statement on the Syriza list of ‘reform measures’: ‘We call on the Greek authorities to further develop and broaden the list of reform measures, based on the current arrangement, in close co-ordination with the institutions.’
The European Commission and the European Central Bank (ECB) both stated that the Greek proposals were just a ‘valid starting point’, but that the agreement had ‘averted an immediate crisis’.
The boss of the IMF, Lagarde, emphasised the ‘starting point’. She wrote in her letter to Eurogroup Finance Ministers’ President, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, that the increased readiness of the new Greek government to fight tax evasion and corruption was ‘encouraging’. However, in other sectors, ‘including perhaps the most important ones’, such as the pension cuts, VAT policy and labour laws, Lagarde did not find clear commitments on the part of the authorities in Athens to implement.
The reaction of Slovakia’s Minister of Finance, Peter Kazimir, to the agreement was, ‘Greeks have lots of heavy lifting to do until the end of April. We all want to see numbers now.’
The troika is not content that Syriza has committed itself not to roll back already introduced privatisations, and while it reviews privatisations not yet implemented, such as the plan to privatise the Port of Piraeus and the Public Power Corporation of Greece, it will respect the tendering negotiations that have taken place.
It is not satisfied that Syriza’s promise to raise the minimum wage has now become a project for the future, and that it will ‘reform’ the strongly union-organised public sector.
– Or that the plan to tackle Greece’s ‘humanitarian crisis’ with housing guarantees and free medical care for the uninsured unemployed, will be achieved without an overall public spending increase, or that public sector wages will be reformed to avoid further wage cuts, without increasing the overall wage bill.
– Or that pensions savings can be made by consolidating funds and eliminating incentives for early retirement – without cutting pensions.
The IMF, ECB and the EC are not satisfied that Syriza has reneged on its plans to rehire sacked civil servants, and renationalise privatised industries – it wants a lot more if the four-month respite is to end with a new austerity deal for repayment of the ‘Greek Debt’.
Under the previous austerity regime, unemployment reached 25%, with youth unemployment almost 50%, while the economy has shrunk by 25% and the Greek debt is 175% of GDP.
To carry out its pledges to the troika and earn a new long-term repayment deal, the Syriza-led government will have to attack the working class and the youth.
Greek workers and youth must form Councils of Action uniting the whole of the working class and the youth and the majority of the farmers and the middle class to reject the Syriza capitulation to the troika.
Councils of Action must see to it that the privatised industries are occupied and put under workers’ control and that sacked workers are returned to their jobs.
Only a socialist revolution can save Greece from the disaster that the EU is creating.
Only the nationalisation of the banks and the major industries under workers’ management and the establishment of a planned socialist economy can save Greece from the developing crisis.
The workers of Europe must come to the aid of the Greek workers and take revolutionary action to bring down the EU and the troika capitalist dictatorship and replace it with the Socialist United States of Europe. This the way forward.