cc. In an open letter, published by the German newspaper “Handelsblatt” in its print edition on 13 January about two weeks before the general election, the party leader of SYRIZA and current Prime Minister of Greece, Alexis Tsipras, turned to the German public. The following text has been taken from the website www.griechenland.blog, which translated Tsipras’ letter from the original Greek (into German) once again.The text printed below has been slightly corrected.
Dear readers [...] I am aware of the fact that most of you have already formed an opinion about what you will read in this article. I call on you, however, to read it with an open mind. Prejudices were never a good counsellor, especially in a period in which the economic crisis reinforces these prejudices, fuelling intolerance, nationalism, obscurantism and violence.
With my open letter today I want to give you a description that will differ from whatever you normally hear about what has been happening in Greece since 2010. And mainly I want to honestly explain what the party SYRIZA proposes and seeks if they will constitute the elected government of Greece on 26 January.
In 2010, the Greek state was not able to service their loans any longer. Unfortunately, the official Europe decided to pretend this problem could be overcome with the largest loan in the history of mankind under the condition of budgetary measures which led with mathematical precision to the situation that the national income, meant to pay off both the new and the older loans, would shrink. A bankruptcy problem was addressed as if it was a liquidity problem.
In other words, they assumed the mentality of a bad banker who does not admit that the credit assigned by him to a bankrupt company has burst but lends even more money, and so acts as if the old loans would continue to be served, delaying the bankruptcy forever.
Nothing but common sense would have predicted that the implementation of the dogma “extend and pretend” in the case of my country would end in tragedy; that instead of stabilising Greece this would result in a self-powered crisis that undermines the foundations of a united Europe.
Our party and I personally did not agree with the loan agreement of May 2010, not because Germany and our other partners did not give enough money, but because they gave us a lot more money than they should have done and we were entitled to accept. Money that would not help the Greek people because it disappeared into the black hole of debt and could not stop the steady inflation of the public debt, which our partners would have been forced to prolong forever under great cost to their citizens.
And this truth was well-known to the German governments, but has never been exposed to you.
In fact, not even a year passed and our predictions were confirmed in 2011. The combination of huge new loans and hard cuts failed not only to tame the debt, but punished my most vulnerable fellow-citizens by rendering modest people with jobs and homes unemployed and homeless, who above all lost their dignity. The collapse of their income drove thousands of companies into bankruptcy and thus increased the oligopoly-like power of the surviving companies. Prices fell less than income, and the – private and public – debt rose. In this scenery in which the lack of hope was greater than all other deficits it did not take long until the “Serpent” hatched – the neo-Nazis who began to patrol neighbourhoods and planted hatred.
Despite its obvious failure, the logic of “extend and pretend” is even today systematically being implemented. The second loan agreement of 2012 added another huge amount of debt on the worn shoulders of the Greek state, “circumcised” insurance funds, fed the recession with new food and financed a new kleptocracy with loans from our partners.
Recently, serious commentators have talked about stabilisation, even an economic recovery of my country and thus “proved” that the implemented policies would finally bear fruit. No serious analysis supports this chimerical “reality”. The recent increase in real national income by 0.7% does not signal the end of the recession, but its continuation, since this increase was achieved in a period with an inflation rate of 1.8%, which means that – in euros – the national income further decreased, while the debts increased. This attempt to touch up the “Greek statistics” so that it seems as if the policy of the Troika in Greece is of any use is an insult to all European partners who have a right to finally learn the truth.
And the truth is that the public debt of Greece cannot be serviced as long as the Greek economy is drowned under a regime of “fiscal waterboarding”. Stubborn insistence on this hopeless and misanthropic policy, the denial of simple arithmetic, cost the German taxpayer a lot and at the same time condemns a proud people to indignity. And the worst: this way the Greeks turn on the Germans, the Germans get at the Greeks, and the idea of a democratically united Europe is brutally affected.
Germany and especially the hard-working German taxpayers have nothing to fear from a SYRIZA government. On the contrary, our goal is not confrontation with our partners. Our goal is not more credits or the right to new budget deficits. Our goal is stabilisation and a balanced budget and – of course – that the bloodletting of the taxpayer of the last four years may cease, caused by an impracticable credit agreement both in Greece and in Germany. We are asking for the end of the dogma “extend and pretend” not against the German citizens but to the benefit of all.
I know, dear readers, that behind the demands for a “faithful implementation of the agreements” anxiety lies: “If we allow the Greeks to do what they want, they will do the same again”. I understand this concern. However, it was not SYRIZA who built the regime of corruption and kleptocracy in my country, which now pretends to be worried about our compliance with the “agreements” and reforms because these people were not hit by them, as was the case with the reforms of the Troika and the government Samaras in the last four years.
We are ready to collide with this system so that we can promote drastic reforms in the functioning of the state and in public administration, transparency, meritocracy, tax justice and the fight against black money. These reform proposals are left to the judgment of our citizens in the coming elections.
Our goal is – in the context of the euro zone – a new agreement for the whole euro zone, within which our people can breathe, create and live in dignity. With a socially bearable debt, with a funding of growth; because that is the only way out of the crisis, in contrast to the failed recipe – recession recycling austerity. With a more cohesive society. With more solidarity and democracy.
On 25 January, an opportunity for Europe is born in Greece. Let us not squander it. •
(Translation Current Concerns)
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