Athens, 29 June 2015

Evangelos Venizelos
Article in "TA NEA" newspaper

The grand delusion

In January, a large part of the Greek people believed that, without causing a problem to the European acquis of the country and without calling into question the improvement in the fiscal condition that was achieved owing to the sacrifices of the 2010-2014 period, they could make a choice of a government with radical characteristics.

A portion of the electoral base of SYRIZA believed the generous election promises of the Thessaloniki programme. Some had given importance to the ideas of unilateral actions concerning the debt and to an international conference on its haircut.

Others had more specific incentives concerning e.g. repealing the ENFIA tax, restoring public sector wages or restoring the 13th pension.

Almost all were convinced that it a new, unconventional government could accomplish a more aggressive and more effective negotiation with the EU and the IMF. It could remedy injustices, avoid new fiscal austerity measures, guarantee the current level of wages and pensions. Always within Europe and the eurozone, though.

All remarks on the lack of a plan B, on the risk of the cancellation of everything that was achieved during the previous five difficult years, on how easy it is for the country's European course to be questioned, its position within the eurozone, on the stability of the Greek banking system, on the average standard of living in the Greek society despite all the inequalities and injustices that exist, were ignored.

 

Not even the recent Cyprus experience did work as an element of the national collective memory.

When we said that we struggled to avoid a disorderly bankruptcy and we soul-achingly carried on our shoulders the burden of social discontent, the mockery, the anger of our own supporters and voters, in order for our homeland not to relive a tragic experience similar to the Asia Minor Catastrophe, many thought that we were seeking pretexts to hide the subordination to the Germans and the class-oriented harshness of the old and vicious political order. They believed that there was another easy, proud and painless path that we had not followed, because we wanted to strike at the popular classes and to subdue Greece to the neoliberal Europe.

Besides, the anti-memorandum demagoguery stemmed from many sources: left-wing and right-wing, naive and dumb-cunning, national-populist - but also gain-seeking ones -, political and business sources.

Since the day of the elections, the Greek society has been invited to attend the most simplistic and, at the same time, cynical communicational power play of the last seventy years.

The government has, within the same day, accomplished the feat of proposing its own fiscal measures of 8 billion euros for 2015-16 and simultaneously declaring that they will never sign a new Memorandum!

They have, within the same day, ended up begging in Brussels for a statement from our partners that their 2012 commitments for further parametric changes in debt will apply, and proclaiming in Athens that the entirety of the debt to the EU and the IMF is shameful, illegal and subject to deletion.

We arrived thus to the alleged reversal of the referendum, which is nothing more than the epitome of contradictions, lies, illusions, cynicism and opportunism of this whole period.

Now that the time of communicational evasions has run out and we have reached the moment of truth, decisions, responsibility and cost, the Government and fateful Mr. Tsipras himself, transfer to the Greek people the weight of an option that the government has undermined and made difficult to be realized during the last five months. The weight of an option that was very easy and cheap five months ago and which has now become difficult and pricey, because the cost of the lost five months is surprisingly large.

Mr. Tsipras asks Greek citizens to say within five days “yes” or “no” to proposals by the partners and creditors that are no longer valid. He asks people to reject proposals by the EU and the IMF that include more than 90% of the proposals of the Greek government and were still open to negotiation.

The discussion has suddenly shifted from the level of the VAT scales and the conditions for early retirement, to the level of History, the European perspective and identity of the country, the function of institutions and democracy, of national strategy and security.

The government asks the people to reject the informal notes that encode its own proposals with some additional requirements (excessive and unacceptable) by the creditors and considers that, afterwards, they will have the mandate to conclude a compromise that will contain 90% of those proposals rejected by the people!

At the same time that Mr. Tsipras communicates with History and imagines himself as a liberator of the European continent, he suggests that everything can be arranged with small concessions on part of the partners that will enable him to convince the fundamentalists within the SYRIZA/ANEL construct, which even Golden Dawn sided with in the Parliament!

The government asks the Greek people, within five days, to deliver the uncontrolled hegemony of the country in the hands of Mr. Tsipras and Kammenos, under the sardonic smile of Mrs. Konstantopoulou and the collateral agreement of Mr. Michaloliakos. They ask the people to say “no” to their humiliation by the creditors, whom they accuse, because they do not give immediately and unconditionally the subsequent installments of the current and the future loan, on the daily support of which depend the function and status of Greek banks, without which the Greek economy has no core.

The “no” that Mr. Tsipras is asking for  is, therefore, a “no” to responsibility, a “no”  to common sense, a “no” to Europe, a “no” to the euro, a “no” to security and stability, a “no” to the historical acquis of the country. It is a “no” without perspective, a “no” without a proposal for the next day. It is a “no” which is pretended to be a proud and patriotic one, while being an irresponsible, blind and pretextual one; a “no” that hides fiscal measures (taxes, fees, pension adjustments) much harder than the government’s proposals of 8 billions in measures. A “no” leading to the complete degradation of the country.

Mr. Tsipras also thinks that he incriminates the “yes” by altering its content and presenting it as a statement of subordination to the Brussels creditors. He is mistaken.

Our “YES” is a “YES” to the truth, a “YES” to common sense, a “YES” to the historical acquis of the country. A “YES” to Europe and the euro, a “YES” to the protection of national interests, a “YES” to the urgent need for a government able to negotiate as a national negotiating team and ensure the exit from the Memorandum and the crisis. A government able to organize the return of our country to the normalcy of an equal member state of the European Union and the eurozone.

 

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