Greece: IMF, no thanks
21 April 2010
Talks between Athens, the EU and the International Monetary Fund got under way on 21 April. But the Greeks are increasingly leery of the terms of the bailout that might be forced upon them. Greek daily To Vima fears the worst.
43 years ago [on 21 April 1967] the colonels overthrew the Greek Republic and plunged the country into darkness for seven years. This gloomy anniversary falls on the very day the historic talks begin with the IMF junta to resolve the country’s serious problems. Back then, the colonels posed as the “saviours of the nation” with their tanks. Today, the self-styled saviours, attired in grey Chicago School suits, have come to impose their terms and abolish Greek sovereignty and political authority, and, by ricochet, that of the Greek people. You must think I’m exaggerating, but no other comparison is possible. In a few years, everyone will remember this fateful day as a one of national mourning.
The talks commenced this morning (in Athens), focussing mainly on the conduct of economic policy. There is every reason to believe the Greek contingent is doomed to lose from the get-go. It is under stifling pressure, with its back to the wall, and without many options or any possibility of putting up resistance. Its credibility is all the more shaken by the fact that in the days to come, the authorities are going to announce that the deficit for 2009 came to 13.5% of GDP, and their leverage in the negotiations will be all the more diminished.
Greece is up against the dragons of neoliberalism. 30-year-old experts who grew up during the bonanza years of market hegemony, who show no real sense of life and social needs, and who demand that the Greek finance minister, Georges Papaconstantinou, and his negotiating team move heaven and earth. They are going to exact the worst: from abolishing collective agreements and easing restrictions on layoffs to drastic cuts in public payrolls, opening up all the markets and a sea change in social security. And since there is no social resistance – given the current state of the economy –, the outcome of the talks will probably be biased and the terms imposed likely to cause a rift in relations between the political establishment and the people. That is all regrettable and I wonder how the days of post-dictatorship hopefulness and creativity have led us to this pass today.