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The truth nobody wants to hear about a Grexit
by Thanos Kalamidas
2015-06-20 11:16:44
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I. The Grexit and the truth

However hard I have tried the last few weeks I haven’t found any article explaining in a simple way why this wrestling between Greece and EU looks like it is always leading to a stalemate.  I mean just look at the situation, Greece for years borrowed money, an unbelievable amount of money and now the time has come to pay back.

grexit01_400Leave aside all the ethical arguments and get to the “realistic” ones, is what the German Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schäuble and the president of the eurogroup, Dutch Jeroen Dijsselbloemuse are saying. All they are saying sums up into “You borrowed money, perhaps with unbelievable high interests, under unethical circumstances and corrupted politicians – which you voted for - and signed for them. Therefore you have to honour them. And if you don’t pay we will kick you out of the Eurozone, declare you bankrupt like any bank that respects itself would have done and let you find a solution alone, your problem. Period.” It does make sense, doesn’t it?

Now Greece answers. “Corrupted politicians without our approval signed for loans with corrupted banks under your protection with unbelievable high interests, under peculiar and not transparent circumstances and while we accept to pay the loans we refuse to pay the interests and the enforced loans that served only foggy private agendas and interests that had nothing to do with the Greek people. By the way we are equal to any other member state in the Eurozone therefore you cannot kick us out and we are not only our problem but we are also your problem. Period.” Now, that doesn’t really make sense – always in “realistic” terms – does it?

If you don’t know what’s really going on in the Eurozone and why nobody tells you anything, nothing really makes sense. In fact, apart from the strange Mexican standoff, the latest announcements from the EU president, Jean-Claude Juncker and the IMF’s director, Christine Lagarde, show a certain level of panic.

Greece looks like a wrestler who fights with one arm tied in the back while EU looks like a gigantic goliath ready to walk all over the small David. But that’s the surface because in reality EU has an arm tied in the back and in this case it is her doing. EU cannot punish Greece, cannot kick out of the Eurozone Greece; actually the only thing the Eurozone can do is take temporary measures against Greece, at the same time risking that everything will turn against the whole Eurozone. This is the problem that most in the Eurozone always missed to acknowledge, but it didn’t matter as long Greece was obedient to the creditors’ wishes. Every critical decision in the European Union and the Eurozone has to be a result of absolute unanimity. Every single member has to agree. Even one disagreement is enough to admit any new agreement, legislation, change. And to kick Greece out of the Eurozone demands the agreement of the Greek government. And it goes even further. Every major change in the EU and Eurozone founding rules it needs not only the unanimity of the governments but also of the parliaments and the European parliament.

Let’s say that the scenario that wants Greece excluded from the Eurozone is agreed with the Greek government; the agreement needs to take a legitimate form which means first that a series of new rules have to be written making sure that they don’t violate EU fundamental laws. Then after is written, approved and signed mainly by Greece, every single state’s parliament – all 19 of them – have to approve it, also carrying the responsibility that one of their own might be out of the club one day for lesser reasoning and risking to create a present that might be used against them in the future.

Now let’s say that everybody agrees, even countries like Spain, Portugal and Italy, where a constant growing opposition agrees, at least in principal, with the Greek government and countries like Belgium, Slovenia or even France face problems with their own debt. Let’s even say that they manage to pass the law from the Greek parliament that in majority opposes a Grexit; how long you think this will take? A couple of days? A couple of weeks? A couple of months? Under ideal circumstances and even if it would start tomorrow this will take at least four to six months.

In the meantime Greece, unable to pay the loans since help has stopped, declares bankruptcy inside the Eurozone. That means that whole Eurozone for the next six months will be in a constant turmoil and roll into the abyss. It took only the announcement that Greece postpones the payments to the IMF a few weeks before for the interest of national bonds in Spain and Italy to reach the skyscraper 20 to 25%. Even Germany lost that day seen bonds reaching interests around 6%, a country that has minor zero one in borrowing interest. And that was just a warning, an alarm. Imagine if it becomes fact and goes on for months.

If this happens in the beginning of July 2015, by the end of November of 2015 euro will be used to wrap fish and chips. And of course the dollar will be around the corner. An American economy in a very sensitive point where the first signs of recovering started showing will be hit hard by a crashed euro. Actually nobody knows how hard, we only know that it will be bad. And the memory of the 2008 bankruptcy of the Lehman Brothers is still fresh for everybody. While USA was trying to hold the dollar of slipping into the abyss the crisis was starting in the Eurozone and even though nobody wants to admit it the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy was one more of the elements that brought the euro-crisis faster than everybody had calculated hoping that they will have time to deal with it.

grexit03_400So if the Eurozone doesn’t want to crash the international economy with uncalculated consequences, it has to help actively the Greek economy while legislating the Grexit. And this will last for at least five to six months. So why the Grexit?

Now think what will happen to Greece in the meantime. Greece will prepare for a passage to drachma. It will deal with constant downgrades and devaluations. The banks will not be able to give money, the health system and public services will most likely  crash but that will last for the same time the EU will need to legislate the Grexit. After that the drachma will stabilize however low this might be. But this means immediately rise of exports, competitive agricultural products; cheap holidays for all the Europeans, strengthening of the light industry, – especially textile industry – rebooting of the commercial naval fleet. Also freed from Eurozone restrictions Greece can search for new markets and new partners plus the fact that freed of the euro Greece will be able to negotiate in the currency that serves her more. The best part? A crashed euro will serve a rising drachma! Amazingly within two years the Greek economy could be the fastest growing in Europe while EU will still be trying to recover from the Grexit and hope that the new situation will not lead countries like Italy, Spain and especially Great Britain into a volunteer exit which will mark the end of the Eurozone. 

Again the question remains. Why so much talk about a Grexit? Ironically Greece has won and it is all about egoism. Suddenly David had bitten Goliath in his own field and his own game, simply using his own mistakes. No Goliath can accept that easily. The best thing Europe can do now, for purely damage control reasons, is to use the ethic reasoning of the Greek arguments (the greatest irony) and in the name of the European solidarity give a political solution that will serve all sides and keep Greece inside the Eurozone.

And all this without even touching on the geopolitical importance of a Greece strong and inside the Eurozone, the fact that it is a crossroads and literally controls the Mediterranean Sea, from Italy to the Arabian gulf. Without mentioning the important role of the country in the Balkans and without mentioning the exceptional relationship Greece has with countries other Europeans don’t even dare to reach.

II. The opposition and the role of the Greek media

Egoism is not something that gives up easily and there lays a weakness in the Greek stand. Oddly the weakness lays exactly where the strength is; with the people. SYRIZA’s victory came as a surprise to everybody in Europe, but what surprised them more was the support of the people.

grexit02_400It is misleading and intentionally misinforming to believe that SYRIZA and Tsipras are communists. Once upon a time the party had its roots in the euro-communist movement that had for long (since early 1970s) separated its way from the traditional pro-USSR parties, but this was a long time ago and SYRIZA is closer to the socialist ideals than the social-democrats. It is also hard to believe that inside six years the 33% of the Greek population saw the light and suddenly turned left. Tsipras has obviously won the trust and the hope of the people and after seven years of austerity, misery and unemployment, the Greek people don’t wish to return back. That’s why they stand with Tsipras and that’s what gives the critical power Tsipras needs to stand.

The Greek opposition is divided between the far right, the not so far right, the covered far right, the populists, the not so populists and the ideological relics of a so called communist party.

The main opposition is the conservative party. A party divided between populism and extreme right (to fascist) partisans. Led by one of the most corrupted Greek politicians, Antonis Samaras, a man who served the establishment in the essence of the period that destroyed Greece and became Prime Minister in 2012 to give the final blow to the Greek people enforcing inhuman measures economic measures that led one third of the Greek population to poverty, 26% unemployment and totally destroyed the Greek welfare. 1.5 million uneployeed, 300,000 living with support from NGOs even when it comes to their daily food, 17,000 homeless only in Athens, 10,000 suicides. If one day the responsible for the humanitarian catastrophe in Greece should meet justice, Mr Samaras must have one of the first seats.

Then comes the Golden Dawn, the Nazi party. The neo-Nazi title is an irrelevant euphemism for this party. There is nothing new about them, pure old Nazism and criminal thugs. For most of them their site should never be the Greek parliament but in the Greek prisons where they really belong.

The new appearance in the Greek political spectrum is the River (Potami in Greek). A populist party that loyalty represents the interests of the old establishment and the European banks. After all their leader, Stavros Theodorakis, a known journalist and a known servant of certain interests in Greece is the window of what the party represents. No ideology, their only ideology is euro under any circumstances and whatever Wolfgang Schäuble wants.

The socialist party and its former leader where both, part of the destruction of Greece with the 30 critical years in the government and part of the murderous catastrophe the last seven years. A socialist only in name party, often more conservative than the conservative with members who are serving life in prison for stealing money when in ministerial positions. Perhaps the most corrupted party in Greek history.

Finally the communist party. A party that never got the memo that USSR is over and Stalin is dead. They prefer to cooperate with the conservatives (they have already done it in the past) than help the government to save Greece. They consider themselves the holy protectors of the proletariat in Greece but they don’t care about the homeless and the poor as long they are not members of their unions and they don’t vote for them.

Parenthetically I need to add that I don't think that Tsipras and the SYRIZA government is perfect. Far from that. They have done mistakes and in the future they are going to make more mistakes. But at least for now they seem to prioritize the interests of the Greek people. They seem - and Tsipras personally - to understand that if we want a solution that will free the future generations from the sins of the past we must do something now, and that’s what he is doing. So having shown that he has the full support of the majority despite ideology and politics.

This is what the European and the IMF establishment has to work with if they want to stop Tsipras and his stand. But these parties have limited power and obviously SYRIZA’s support has come even from their voters’ pool. So troika turned to the next best ally, an ally they could actually buy; the Greek press.
The best way to understand the role of the Greek press during these last years is the reference to two examples. Both are despicable and text book examples for corrupted and bad journalism.

Maria Spyraki. A known journalist working for most of her professional life for Mega, a private Greek television channel, perhaps the most popular Greek channel; funded by a suspicious troika of super-rich with big fat accounts in Switzerland and Lichtenstein. All with strong establishment roots and connections and of course involved in not so transparent public constructions and state deals. Openly supporting the political establishment that serves them and the last few years the former Prime minister, Antonis Samaras.

Maria Spyraki in a national televised interview for a competitor channel, during the euro-elections campaign period - where she was candidate with Samaras party (sic) - admitted, leaving everybody in shock, that she didn’t report certain things to the public (she put them under her pillow as she said) to protect public interest. The issue was the money – cash money – that were coming to Greece from the European central banks to keep the Greek banks standing. There was not national danger if she had reported that, the only one in danger was Samaras from attacks from the opposition.

grexit04_400So Maria Spyraki hid “under her pillow” serious news that might had calmed the public fear that period to serve the then prime minister Antonis Samaras. Her thirty silvers was a sure seat in the European parliament for the next five years. In Greece the Euro MP are elected with a list and not a cross and her position in the Samara’s party ballot guaranteed her election to the euro-parliament. The next natural question is how many more things have Maria Spyraki hidden under her pillow to make worth her seat in the Euro-parliament?

Maria Spyraki executed orders serving not the public or her ethical obligations to her profession, but interests, private agendas and corrupted politicians fully aware for her acts and responsible for the consequences for the Greek people. She is an embarrassment to every journalist all around the world and I hope every journalist in Strasbourg and Brussels knows who she really is and what she really represents. Greece and the Greek people are definitely not one of them.

Giannis Pretenteris. Coincidentally another journalist and commentator of the Mega channel. In an interview for an online agency, Giannis Pretenteris admitted that while he knew that the Greek debt is impossible to be paid under current circumstances, even though he personally knew that most of the things he was saying weren’t exactly the truth he had certain pressures (he never named the pressures) to say things that obviously supported the decisions of the former corrupted government.

And these two are just the peak of the iceberg. Another known commentator warned a day before Tsipras was elected that if SYRIZA would become government he would withdraw all his money from the Greek banks and move them abroad. You actually listen or read the Greek news and you know that more than 70% of them are either misleading or plain lies. The new government has spent more time denying news and reports than verifying anything. All of them have one and only target, to spread fear. To scare people that the government is going to drown them so they will stop support them.

They have gone so far as to actually fabricate news – like the verbal attack of the speaker to a petrol station worker – just to make people doubt about the government. And all that risking the worst. Dividing the country. Awaking civil-war memories and creating hate feelings.

The last days it was revealed that IMF had organized seminars for journalists on how to defend and promote IMF’s interests in Greece. There are already rumours that money were involved and in the  corrupt climate that surrounds the Greek media this moment there is little doubt that this is just a rumour.

Sadly these are not isolated and independent incidents. In Greece Maria Spyraki and Giannis Pretenteris, have made a journalists school with followers and imitators. In other countries they would have been called rotten apples and every profession or social group has its own rotten apples. In Greece people like Spyraki have become a disease, a cancer that has poison the whole apple tree of the journalism.

III. The last meters of the negotiation

Obviously now we are reaching the last round of the negotiation. The EU leadership now knows that Tsipras has beaten them with their own weapons and what remains is to save face. Of course a wrestling like that doesn’t lack surprises and this is the reason the Greek prime ministers makes openings to Putin. He wants to show that at least for Greece, there is a plan B. a situation EU definitely lacks. Plus the fact that desperate situations demand desperate measures and if that means an embrace with the Russians and bring up side down the whole west front, let it be. After all what he cares about is the wellbeing of the Greek people and not the geopolitical plans of the Americans or the Germans.

The provocative intrusion into the Greek media has obviously failed and the Greek opposition trebles between destruction and controversy. What remains is due to egoism to save face and since the combination of the IMF with the EU establishment is the giant in front little Greece this will mean a Greek compromise or at least let them surface winners. And the compromise will be to let them present the whole case as their victory, rediscover the ethics behind the logic and since they are such bleeding hearts to let the Greek people take a breath. Perhaps they might even actually help, since they nobody wants to live the same situation again. They will also make sure that nothing and nobody will repeat the same story, having one eye in Spain and another in Portugal where the opposition is coming fast.

One thing for sure, when the whole situation is over and the talk about a Britexit is also over, the next thing the Eurozone will do will be to legislate laws and regulations that will let them exclude a member state from the club when they want.


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Emanuel Paparella2015-06-20 12:25:16
Thank you Thanos for this eye-opening analysis that does what a journalist ought to do: tell the unvarnished truth and let the chips fall where they may. Indeed, the unvarnished truth is more often than not an inconvenient truth for those who are in denial. What did Lincoln say? You can fool some of the people all the times, and you can fool all the people some of the times, but you cannot fool all the people all the times. Indeed!

Ironically the myopic ungenerous politicians who are now pulling the economic strings in the EU to salvage German geopolitical economic interests parading as EU interests have lately come down with a sudden bout of amnesia. They seem to have forgotten that one of the main reasons for the turn to the extreme right in Germany in the 30s was the desperate economic conditions to which the victors of World War I had reduced Germany. Enter Hitler as savior to salvage the desperate situation and he did for a while, with questionable ethico-political methods to be sure, but a solution it was based on real politik; eventually other final solutions were adopted... Déjà vu? This time around an impoverished desperate people thrown out of the economic Club dubbed Euro-zone will find a solution of sort by recurring to those who hate the Club and would like nothing better than to divide and conquer and see it disbanded and destroyed, and not only as a financial entity but as political one to boot. Enter Vladimir Putin who is already talking of coming to the aid of Greece and becoming its savior.

Back to the future. And here there is another historical lesson: the seeds of the American civil war were planted the very moment when the ideals of human unalienable rights and the equality of man were enshrined in a Constitution in theory but then not put into practice. It came to a head eventually in 1861 with a civil war. It is a very dangerous geo-political exercise to declare ideals and principles in theory on a piece of paper and then abysmally fail to practice them; and such an historical lesson is valid for both authoritarian and democratic governments; even those of hyper-national polities which proclaim solidarity on paper, who may have misguidedly put the cart before the horse and made Europe without having a notion of what does it mean to be a European.

Nikos Laios2015-06-21 10:35:51
It's tragic what's happening in Greece at the moment - wounds partly self-inflicted and also from our EU partners.The question arises not what happened that lead to this point,but what happens now?
If an agreement is reached Monday,that will only postpone the inevitable economic bankruptcy of Greece for durther down the track.With a debt to GDP of near 180%, Greece will never,ever pay off its debts; and with a currency that does not reflect its economy and with structural problems that need to be tackled that date back from the period of Ottoman occupation,Greece does not have a modern nation state socio-economic structure.

The only solution is to go bankrupt, re-adopt the Drachma and undertake the tough systemic and structural changes Greece needs to make. What if a Grexit brings down the whole EU?

Let it be so,because the EU as it exists has become a capitalist self-serving instrument within which the Germans and other Northern Europeans can profit on the back of the blood and bones,sweat and tears of the Eastern,Southern and Central Europeans; an institution which has forgotten the role of its existence being for the wellbeing and commonwealth of all Europeans, and
Where it has prostituted itself to the IMF,ECB and German banks.The time has come to destroy it and start again.

Greece is the Samson that can push these columns down of it sticks to its dignity and democratic principles and will of their people that it has been promoting these last few months,and does not sell out. The peoples of Spain,Portugal,Ireland and many other nations are looking on.

Europe is living under a new Germanic economic Darwinianist-capitalist dictatorship: and its tools of control are the IMF,ECB,Brussels Beaurocrats ,and their ignoring the nation states' democratic will and rights.

So a default is not only important for Greece, but for Europe: for Europe has become what it swore it would not become in World War Two, something ugly and terrifying.

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