ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Giorgos Mitralias « Toute dette dont la société n’a pas bénéficié est illégitime »
by LINA SANKARI
Translated Tuesday 17 March 2015, by
Giorgos Mitralias, member of the Greek Committee Against the Debt, has called for creating an Audit Commission to examine Greek public debt, something he believes is the fundamental right of citizens.
Fifty six percent (56%) of Greek’s public debt contracted before the crisis is unlawful since it stems from exorbitant interest rates or tax giveaways. What, in your opinion, constitutes debt that is justified?
Giorgos Mitralias Closer examination is needed to identify that portion of debt which is unlawful. As things stand, strong evidence exists that leads us to suspect that a part of this debt is unlawful. This is true of the debt imposed by the Troika (the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund). Greek constitutionalists have been looking closely into this for quite some time now. To give you an example, the First Memorandum was never placed before Parliament for approval, which is further proof of its unlawfulness. According to me, any debt that does not benefit society or State but only serves vested interests or interests that cannot be disclosed can be termed unlawful. Let me add that the Speaker of the Greek Parliament, Zoé Kostantopoulou, had announced that a parliamentary committee of enquiry would be set up to look into corruption. And it is a happy coincidence that court proceedings have started yesterday in Athens against the Greek subsidiary of Siemens, in which out of 64 suspects, 13 are German nationals. The Chairman of the Greek subsidiary Michalis Christoforakos has fled to Germany and the authorities are refusing to extradite him. There you have the face of Germany, represented by Martin Schulz and Angela Merkel, who continue to accuse Greeks of corruption.
What are your expectations from the Greek Debt Audit Commission to be put in place by the Speaker of Parliament?
Giorgos Mitralias Setting up this Commission at the behest of a democratically elected Parliament would be a first in the history of Europe. Given the political structure of the other parliaments in the Eurozone, I harbor no illusions but I hope this move shall serve as a model since the issue of debt is not unique to Greece. As regards Greece, it is about the basic, fundamental right of citizens to know the truth. This is an initiative that should be implemented across countries. It is in line with the findings of Éric Toussaint who is the founder of the global network, the Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt as well as the European Union regulation dating from 2013 which directs governments affected by Memoranda, to audit their debt. So it is something that is absolutely legal.
Would the task of the Audit Commission set up by the Parliament complement government efforts in its negotiations with Brussels?
Giorgos Mitralias The Syriza government had had no plans to conduct a debt audit. It is to be noted that they are not asking for cancellation or forgiveness of a part of the debt. This has been due to the efforts of the extraordinary lady who is the Speaker of Parliament. Its task is in sync with the demand made to Germany to pay reparations for wartime damages and the loan that was forced on Greece during occupation. Alexis Tsipras made a speech in Parliament on Tuesday regarding this. The campaign shall continue in a positive manner.