By Yanis Varoufakis, Former Finance Minister Of Greece
In the next hours and days, I shall be sitting in Parliament to assess the legislation that is part of the recent Euro Summit agreement on Greece. I am also looking forward to hearing in person from my comrades, Alexis Tsipras and Euclid Tsakalotos, who have been through so much over the past few days. Till then, I shall reserve judgment regarding the legislation before us. Meanwhile, here are some first, impressionistic thoughts stirred up by the Euro Summit’s Statement.
- A New Versailles Treaty is haunting Europe – I used that expression back in the Spring of 2010 to describe the first Greek ‘bailout’ that was being prepared at that time. If that allegory was pertinent then it is, sadly, all too germane now.
- Never before has the European Union made a decision that undermines so fundamentally the project of European Integration. Europe’s leaders, in treating Alexis Tsipras and our government the way they did, dealt a decisive blow against the European project.
- The project of European integration has, indeed, been fatally wounded over the past few days. And as Paul Krugman rightly says, whatever you think of Syriza, or Greece, it wasn’t the Greeks or Syriza who killed off the dream of a democratic, united Europe.
- Back in 1971 Nick Kaldor, the noted Cambridge economist, had warned that forging monetary union before a political union was possible would lead not only to a failed monetary union but also to the deconstruction of the European political project. Later on, in 1999, German-British sociologist Ralf Dahrendorf also warned that economic and monetary union would split rather than unite Europe. All these years I hoped that they were wrong. Now, the powers that be in Brussels, in Berlin and in Frankfurt have conspired to prove them right.
- The Euro Summit statement of yesterday morning reads like a document committing to paper Greece’s Terms of Surrender. It is meant as a statement confirming that Greece acquiesces to becoming a vassal of the Eurogroup.
- The Euro Summit statement of yesterday morning has nothing to do with economics, nor with any concern for the type of reform agenda capable of lifting Greece out of its mire. It is purely and simply a manifestation of the politics of humiliation in action. Even if one loathes our government one must see that the Eurogroup’s list of demands represents a major departure from decency and reason.
- The Euro Summit statement of yesterday morning signalled a complete annulment of national sovereignty, without putting in its place a supra-national, pan-European, sovereign body politic. Europeans, even those who give not a damn for Greece, ought to beware.
- Much energy is expended by the media on whether the Terms of Surrender will pass through Greek Parliament, and in particular on whether MPs like myself will toe the line and vote in favour of the relevant legislation. I do not think this is the most interesting of questions. The crucial question is: Does the Greek economy stand any chance of recovery under these terms? This is the question that will preoccupy me during the Parliamentary sessions that follow in the next hours and days. The greatest worry is that even a complete surrender on our part would lead to a deepening of the never-ending crisis.
- The recent Euro Summit is indeed nothing short of the culmination of a coup. In 1967 it was the tanks that foreign powers used to end Greek democracy. In my interview with Philip Adams, on ABC Radio National’s LNL, I claimed that in 2015 another coup was staged by foreign powers using, instead of tanks, Greece’s banks. Perhaps the main economic difference is that, whereas in 1967 Greece’s public property was not targeted, in 2015 the powers behind the coup demanded the handing over of all remaining public assets, so that they would be put into the servicing of our un-payble, unsustainable debt.
[Watch this space for detailed comments on the economics of the proposed legislation…]