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Maximum Pressure on the Greek Authorities: Tutelage Or Out!

Translated Saturday 17 September 2011, by Isabelle Métral and reviewed by Bill Scoble

The Dutch finance minister all but openly envisages the expulsion of Athens from the euro zone - whereas in Paris, Jean-Pierre Jouyet, president of the Financial Markets Authority, proposes placing Athens under tutelage.

They’re at it now, will stop at nothing! Pressure on Greece is stronger than ever as the country is waiting for the next instalment of the 160-billion loan due this autumn according the the European Council’s announcement on July 21.

Last Thursday, Dutch Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager demanded that sanctions be imposed on countries that cannot meet the criteria of the stability pact. “If a country does not wish to meet the exigencies (of the euro zone), then this country has no other option but to leave “, he warned. Marc Rutte himself, the prime minister, in “softer” tones, merely demanded that countries that did not observe the pact lose the right to vote. Dutch sources quoted by Euobserver go so far as to evoke the appointment of a commissioner that would take over the management of the country. In other words, a consul [1] in the 21st century!

Seeing that the euro zone is likely to break apart, the European Commission immediately replied that “the Lisbon treaty does not provide the possibility for a member country either to leave or be expelled. Membership of the euro zone is irrevocable.” The austerity imposed on Athens has clearly failed: recession is deepening. Over the second term, the GDP fell at a yearly rate of 7.3%. Austerity programs have stifled the economy. As a consequence, tax revenues have dried up. The Dutch position posits that it is possible to “save” the euro by cutting off the faulty members. Finding that Greece has entered a vicious circle, the Dutch government is considering this kind of expedient: never mind solidarity!

The other European partners themselves stick to the option of pushing the Greek government to force down the austerity pill. Wolfgang Schaüble, the German finance minister, last week announced “new consequences” if Greek authorities failed to meet the strict standards. Slovak Prime Minister Iveta Radicova herself said that Greece has not succeeded in meeting the conditions imposed. And her Parliament will not vote on EU’s “aid” to Athens until December, even though it was to be delivered this Autumn.

Others are ruder still. Jean-Claude Jouyet, Sarkozy’s former junior minister for European affairs and current president of the Financial Markets’ Authority, who, incidentally, founded the centre-left club Democracy 2000 with François Hollande [2] in 1985, evoked the possibility of placing Athens under tutelage. Asked about this on BFM TV last Thursday Jouyet answered: “If Athens takes no other measures, we’ll have to.” Never mind democracy.

[1In French history the consulate (1799-1804) spelled the end of the revolutionary era: after being the first consul in the triumvirate insituted by the constitution of "An VIII" Napoleon Buonaparte crowned himself emperor of the French...

[2A former general secretary of the French Socialist party and current contender for the Socialist presidential candidacy in 2012

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