Greece: An agreement which surrenders to extortionists

Friday’s Eurogroup agreement amounts to the government’s capitulation to the Troika’s blackmail. The agreement provides for a four-month extension, not simply of the “loan agreement”, but, as is expressly stated, of the “programme”, that’s to say of the Memorandum itself.

communist-tendency-syriza[This statement by the Communist Tendency of Syriza, was issued on Friday 20 February]

Moreover, the agreement contains an insulting provision that not only prohibits any “unilateral action” on the part of the Greek government that conflicts with the Memorandum, but it also prohibits the government from taking any of the measures – such as those in the programme on which it was elected by the Greek people – without the agreement of the creditors.

In fact, the agreement requires that on Monday, 23 February [today], (in just three days) the Greek government submit a fully costed list of “reforms” that are within the spirit of the Memorandum. The Greek government would then have to undergo the humiliating process of having this list of measures assessed by its creditor-guardians.

Moreover, what was also agreed is that by the end of April, and following successive assessments by the Troika, it would be decided whether there is to be a further programme for Greece and what might be its content. There is nothing in the current agreement, as it stands, to suggest whether the content of a post-April deal will be a clear break with the Memoranda and with extreme austerity.

What is more, under the recent agreement the Greek government commits to achieving primary surplus targets. However, the agreement fails to provide any relaxation of the existing unrealistic quantitative targets. Moreover, the government appears to have de facto accepted the viability, and the regular servicing, of the insufferable debt, without any specific commitment on the part of the Troika with regard to providing funding for the next period.

This raises questions as to where the necessary funds are to be found for the fundamental needs of the state, and as how they can avoid a suspension on debt repayments. Lastly, the government’s request to freely dispose of the remainder of the loan – administered by the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund – that was received in 2012 for the liquidity of the Greek banking system, has been turned down.

What is the political significance of all this? It is baseless for the Greek government to even suggest, let alone claim, that the Memoranda have been removed and that the Troika is no longer going to be involved in our affairs. It is precisely the opposite that has taken place, and the more the government’s apologists attempt to spin it and present it as its opposite, the more they compound the sense of disappointment and disapproval by the working masses. By signing Friday’s extension agreement, the Greek government has not only contradicted the mandate it received from the working class and the poorer layers of society on election day, but has also contradicted its own government programme that it had presented to, and which was approaved by, the Greek Parliament a few days ago. Friday’s agreement amounts to the government’s unconditional surrender to the Troika with no discernible benefit of any substance.

Up to the point of the recent agreement’s conclusion at the Eurogroup, what has become abundantly clear is that the entire process of “negotiating” with Greece’s creditors as a means of overturning austerity and the Memoranda has proved to be a total fiasco. As we, the Communists of SYRIZA, have patiently been explaining for some time – and as recent events make clear – there is no real possibility of negotiating successfully to the benefit of Greek working people.

What is more, it would be ever more difficult for the Greek government to attempt to negotiate with the creditors in the future, following its disorderly retreat on Friday. The government has practically accepted that for the following months the framework of the Memorandum will remain in place, as well as the humiliating assessments on the part of the Troika. It has also accepted the viability and regular servicing of the existing debt.

All this shows that there is very little room for manoeuvre and very little ground for any meaningful successful negotiations to take place. The abolition of the Memoranda and the removal of Troika supervision are objectives that can only be achieved through “unilateral action” such as the repudiation of the debt, and the adoption of a radical, socialist, programme capable of inspiring a wave of solidarity and a common political struggle against austerity and capitalism on the part of the workers and the labour movement across Europe.

The Communist Tendency of Syriza declares its total opposition to the signing of the agreement by the government. That signature amounts to an open repudiation of Syriza’s political commitments towards the Greek people, and a violation of the party’s key founding programmatic positions. As we have repeatedly pointed out recently, the government, taking note of the support and demands of the overwhelming majority of the Greek people, should have stood firm to achieve its commitment to the immediate abolition of the Memorandum and of austerity, and should not have sacrificed the Thessaloniki Programme (the party’s election manifesto) under the pressure of the blackmailing tactics of Greece’s creditors. Rather, the government should have carried out that programme by turning to socialist measures to fund it such as the nationalisation of the banking system and of the large enterprises.

We call upon all Left MPs to vote against this unacceptable agreement. The fact that they gave a vote of confidence to the government must not be equated with any duty to vote in favour of any measures proposed by the government that harm the interests and rights of the working masses. Left MPs are under the fundamental duty to vote against such proposals whenever they are put to the vote.

We call every left activist to a common and organised struggle for an immediate change to the policies of the government and of our party towards the “unilateral” adoption of a genuinely left, socialist, programme. A fundamental step in this struggle must be to demand an extraordinary party congress with the aim of an immediate change in our present policies, but also a change in leadership.

(February 20, 2015)