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Greece: "Our Main Error? To Have Underestimated Their Desire to Destroy Us"

Translated Tuesday 21 July 2015, by Henry Crapo

Target of a well planned financial coup d’État , Alexis Tsipras underestimated the ferocity of creditors ready to strangle Greece in order to impose policies in the interest of finance capital on all the peoples of Europe. It’s the story of a combat that the Prime Minister had not the means to win.

Athens (Greece), special correspondent.

In those days of an unusually mild December, the choices were Cornelian. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, whose majority was reduced to a trickle by the imposition of austerity programs, pushed, in haste, and against all odds, the election of President of the Republic by the members of parliament, the Vouli. Syriza, which had won first place in the European elections in spring, could not make alliance with the candidate nominated by the austerity camp, the former European Commissioner Stavros Dimas. Discredited, Samaras, could not hope to gather the 200 votes required, out of 300, to be elected, so this predictable failure opened the way for early parliamentary elections. Already, the campaign was hot, both in Athens and Brussels, Jean-Claude Juncker warning against the coming to power of "extreme forces" and Pierre Moscovici, in favor of a coalition uniting the right and PASOK, praising an impossible "economic recovery."

Between Christmas and New Year’s Day, the announced fall of Samaras took place, hastening the rise of the anti-austerity left. But even within Syriza, there were voices warning against the minefield prepared by creditors. In an internal meeting at the end of December, an economist close to the current Minister of Finance, Euclid Tsakalotos, spoke of "a bomb of 15 billion euros programmed to explode in the hands of Syriza": the amount of payments due to creditors and reimbursement of Treasury bills between March and August 2015. Tsipras winning the legislative elections of 25 January, the financial strangulation mechanism was immediately set up. On 5 February the European Central Bank decided no longer to accept, as collateral, debt certificates deposited with it by Greek banks in return for their refinancing. It was a political decision, overriding the prerogatives of the Frankfurt institution, to asphyxiate the Greek State and to compel Syriza to abandon its commitments.

Tsipras in face of the humiliating agreement imposed by loan sharks

Greek banks, were condemned to a diet of emergency liquidity delivered drop by drop via the ELA [1] mechanism. This was one way to put the knife to the throat of Greek negotiators, prior to the conclusion of the "bridge" agreement of February 25, finally brought forth in pain. "The government is facing a coup d’État of a new kind. Our attackers are no longer, as in 1967, the tanks, but the banks", said Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis on 21 April. Had the European "partners" and the creditors ever intended to negotiate a fair agreement, including a sustainable resolution of the problem of debt? Nothing is less certain. But Tsipras, he believed in this to the end, most likely underestimating the ferocity of his interlocutors, all linked directly or indirectly to the world of finance capital, and [Tsipras] counting, at the outset, on the establishment of a united front with Rome and Paris to open a breach in the wall of austerity. Naiveté? Not only. "The commitment to European integration, the idea that the EU can be changed in favor of the people had been until then inscribed in the DNA of Syriza, heir of Eurocommunism of the 1970’s", explains a source within the party. The faith in the negotiation process was so entrenched that the Greek government has never worked seriously to develop a plan B, thus undermining its position. Varoufakis admits today: "We had prepared the Grexit in theory, but it’s another thing to prepare the country. This has not been done", he says. From the geopolitical point of view, the crisis of emerging countries has ruined the hope of finding, in case of deadlock, strong enough support on the side of Brics, with Russia at the head.

On June 25, facing the humiliating agreement that the usurers wanted to impose on him, Tsipras had no choice but to announce a referendum. Without assurance, at the start, to see the "no" win. Meanwhile, opponents marched in Brussels, pampered by Juncker. "Then, blackmail peaked," says a former member of the Greek independent group. Under the threat of illiquidity planned in Frankfurt, the government was driven to capital controls and the closure of banks. On July 1, facing the danger of an organized banking collapse, Tsipras almost faltered. Some moreover, in his entourage, incited him to do surrender, deeming the pressure unsupportable, and the bet on a referendum too risky. "He locked himself in his office for a long time, alone. He came out ready to curry the blackmailers and announced the continuation of the referendum," said a close colleague. The Greek prime minister threw all his forces into the battle for "Oxi" [2], sure that popular support would help in the unequal confrontation with creditors.

"Our main mistake? To have poorly measured their desire to destroy us. It was blackmail of a sudden death of the economy. To make an example in Europe and spread terror among the peoples who are tempted to choose an alternative economic policy ", explains a government minister. As long as the financial stranglehold continues, the agreement signed in Brussels "gun to our head," according to the expression used in the entourage of Tsipras, casts Syriza into a tough battle, opening a serious political crisis. But perhaps the strategy chosen in Brussels and Berlin was not so much "Grexit", but "Syrizexit".

[1Emergency Liquidity Assistance


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