May Hope Prevail in Greece and Europe: SYRIZA Central Committee Statement
From January 25, the government has been giving an unprecedented political struggle. A struggle towards the country’s final exit from the dead-end of the memoranda; a struggle to alleviate the burden of those fighting to survive after the policies implemented during the last 5 years; to restart the economy on a path of viable and socially just development; for the termination of the vicious circle of dept and austerity. A struggle for hope, not only for Greece but for the whole of Europe.
The confrontation with the conservative forces insisting on bankrupt austerity policies, constitutes a Europe-wide struggle. It is not only the future of Greece that hangs on the outcome of this effort. If we win, a new paradigm will firmly show the way to all the peoples of Europe. That is why, the hope for which SYRIZA and its government stand, has been under threat from the moment of its birth. That is why, the domestic and international Holy Alliance of austerity has gathered up against us. That is why the battle we give is of historical significance for the future of Europe.
Throughout its course SYRIZA has repeatedly pointed out, that the struggle against the Holy Alliance of Austerity will not be a stroll in the park. We claimed from the very beginning, that this would be a long and hard battle. Unfortunately, the course of events has confirmed us. But the value of the Left is measured and proven in hard times.
SYRIZA always defined itself as a party different from others. We always claimed we are a party promoting contemporary popular interests, and at the same time, the timeless values of the Left. For four months now, we have been proving day by day, our unbreakable connection to the peoples’ desire for justice and dignity. For four months now, we have been defying all ultimata. We have been resisting to the attempts for the suffocation of the economy and society. We have defied the international “mudslinging”. We have kept our ears shut to the sirens of conformity and submission. For four months now, day by day we insist on the red lines drawn by the people itself on the 25th of January. The government will not sign a new memorandum.
The fact that we reject all ultimata however does not mean that we are not seeking a mutually beneficial solution. All this time we have made every possible effort to remove the deadlock. The good will we have shown should not be taken as a sign of weakness or of assimilation to the dominant narratives. It was a sign of our responsibility to the Greek society as well as to the rest of the European Peoples. We have sought after and we continue to seek for, an agreement that will lead us out of the vicious circle of debt – austerity – more debt. We have sought for, and we continue to seek, an agreement that will strengthen the cohesion of the European peoples.
The enemies of the cohesion of Europe and its peoples are the fanatics of austerity, who undermine the negotiation processes, by adopting an intolerant stance, and by pushing for the financial suffocation of the Greek economy. Those who believe they can humiliate Greece, are playing with fire.
The difficult compromise of the 20th of February recorded a significant part of our positions and allowed the government to avoid the death-trap that international and local circles had set for it. The reasons behind the organized attack against the government are thus becoming apparent. Already, on the aftermath of the 20th of February systematic efforts for the undoing of the key points of the agreement had begun; aiming at the gradual conversion of the 5th assessment of the second memorandum into a benchmark of the negotiation. Slipping into the 5th assessment was not and cannot be accepted by the Greek side.
Despite the fact that the agreement of the 20th of February has been continuously undermined by the creditors’ cycles, the government complied with it. Furthermore, while the government actively demonstrated its political commitment to the fulfilment of the country’s obligations both within and abroad, the Greek economy is suffering unprecedented credit suffocation, as a result of rather obvious reasons. If this credit asphyxiation continues and things are brought to a breaking point, no one should doubt that the payment of salaries and pensions has an absolute priority over the payment of loan-instalments. People are above debt.
The opponent however, is not only outside, but also within the walls. The oligarchy that was favoured and strengthened during the past 25 years, saw its power sky-rocket through the policies of extreme austerity and the deregulation of the labour-market during the 5 years of the memoranda. The outcome of the struggle against this oligarchy will be the judge of both the new government and SYRIZA as such.
This struggle aims to establish a radically different social and economic model, which will be based on the redistribution of wealth, the promotion of equality, solidarity, the respect of public property, the support for the common goods, the support for wage labourers, and the respect for the environment. That is why it faces fierce reaction. The power block of the oligarchs has cast away its mask of “impartiality” for some time now, and has undertaken the confrontation with the government without political mediators and without pretexts. The daily attacks we face by the media of complicity (both print and electronic) are far from accidental.
However, SYRIZA has proven countless times in the past and continues to prove in practice that it disregards propaganda and intimidation, because it has absolute trust in the judgment of the Greek people. It is time thus, for the oligarchs to understand it for good: The time has come for them to dig into their own pockets. The time has come to pay taxes, to pay their bank loans, to pay for the TV frequencies they have been using so long free of charge, to pay just as the law prescribes and just as every single Greek citizen has been paying out of his/her own meager savings. The time has come for them to pay what they haven’t been paying for all these years. Despite their propaganda against us, we will claim our rights and we will bring justice one way or another. We have before us four years minus four months of government to do it.
Now that we are entering the last round of negotiations, it is imperative that we clarify and highlight the basic features of an acceptable conciliatory solution, so that the funding of the Greek economy can be secured:
a) Low primary surplusesb) No further cuts in pensions and salariesc) Debt restructuringd) A strong package for public investments, especially in infrastructure and new technologies.
Additionally, the restoration of collective bargaining and the gradual increase of the basic salary (minimum wage) to 751 euros, is a sine qua non aspect of SYRIZA’s policy. It is equally necessary that all tax policy reforms promote social justice, relieving the poor and finally forcing the rich to pay what they’ve systematically dodged.
The central committee considers that the enactment of legal initiatives such as the immediate vote of bills for the restoration of collective bargaining and the abolition of a zero deficit clause will send a resonant political message towards all directions and strengthen government's position.
The legislative work produced by the government so far, constitutes the clearest evidence of its aims regarding the negotiation. In a state of financial strangulation, the government moves consistently towards the implementation of The Thessaloniki Program. We point out:
1) Addressing the humanitarian crisis through the voted programme that provides nutrition, shelter and free electricity, free medical care for those without health insurance, the abolition of the 5-euro fee to access public hospitals.
2) The first step for the restart of the economy through/ by the very successful provision that gives the opportunity to settle debts to the public sector and insurance funds in as many as 100 installments.
3) 4500 public employees rehired (cleaners, school guards, teachers and others) who were illegally fired by the memoranda governments.
4) The freeze of the zero-deficit clause the implementation of which would lead to the decrease up to 15% of the supplementary pensions as well as the freeze of the memorandum reforms that predicted new decreases in the main pensions and the limitation of the beneficiaries of Social Solidarity Benefit
5) The recruitment of health care personnel that will help the National Healthcare Service
6) The start of the restoration of the democratic liberties with the reinstatement of the public broadcaster, the reformation of the prison system, the provision of citizenship to to all children born and raised in Greece, the so-called second generation immigrants, the restoration of the hour of the prime minister in the parliament and the information/update of the journalists by the government spokesperson.
7) Dealing with corruption networks and the impunity of the oligarchs by taxing the triangular exchanges, the taxation for the first of the private television channels, the regulation of the chaotic radio and television landscape
8) The reinstatement of legal rules in the professional football
9) The progressive reforms in the educational system
10) Multidimensional foreign policymaking that promotes the peace and the boost of the economy
We should also point the formation of committees by the parliament for:
the Greek demand for WWII reparations from Germany
the investigation of the memoranda
an audit of the debt
the institutions and the transparency in governmental decision-making.
Within four months a lot of work has been done and there and more will be done if we win the fight of the negotiations. Despite the significant work of the government, we should not overlook the serious inexpediencies regarding the political choices, the selection of the political personnel and the government’s rhetoric that have worried both the party and the social groups that support us. The government should proceed with the democratization of the state’s apparatus, tackling the problems that are contributing to the reproduction of structures of the previous conservative memoranda status quo, with determination and should provide an alternative example of left governance. The choices of the government ought to inspire the society and social movements. In consideration of the great difficulties ahead, the connection of the government with the party and the parliamentary group is crucial.
The government has three key allies in this epic battle:
The first one is our party. SYRIZA is the collective political expression of the workers, the youth and the movements. Furthermore, in this particular conjuncture, the party is the guardian of the programme and values of the left, the government’s shield against the war that is taking place and the night watcher that diagnoses deviations and mistakes on time, aiming to its immediate correction. The role of the party is more important than ever. Thus, it is necessary to accelerate the reorganization procedures which have already begun. In the next days the local organizations should discuss the decision of the central committee regarding the negotiation. Meanwhile, the members of the party should work intensively in order to organize the popular mobilization against the blackmails towards the government.
The second ally of the government is the international solidarity. Movements, unions, progressive parties, intellectuals and citizens from Europe and around the world, have expressed their unconditional support in favour our just struggle. They understand that our fight is not related only with the defense of the inalienable right of the Greek people to decide about their own destiny, but also with the prospect of another Europe without memoranda, Troika and austerity. The Central Committee of SYRIZA welcomes international solidarity and invites all the friends of the Greek people across the world to escalate their mobilizations. We now need their voices more than ever.
The third and decisive ally of the government is people of Greece themselves. Against the vested interests, the Holy Alliance of austerity, the corruption and oligarchs, this government counts on the active support of the many. Those that see in this government, a government from the people, with the people and for the people. Those that want to put an end to austerity and forge a new trajectory for the country. Those that reject the ultimata and ask the government to insist on its red lines. Those that despite their difficult living conditions have a firm fighting spirit and are ready to take the streets demanding their inalienable right of dignity and justice.
May hope prevail both in Greece and Europe.
Translated by George Souvlis and Kimon Markatos