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Greece: 'Europe's moment of truth'; SYRIZA needs solidarity, says Tassos Koronakis

By Tassos Koronakis, SYRIZA

May 18, 2015 -- Change4All, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Tassos Koronakis (pictured), secretary of the Central Committee of SYRIZA, calls for acts of social and political solidarity. From the organisation of rallies and awareness campaigns across Europe, to institutional initiatives in local, regional and national parliaments, and personal or collective statements of support to the efforts of Greece to swift the European paradigm of austerity.

* * *

Dear friends,

After almost four months of intensive negotiations, we have reached a moment of truth for our common European project. The SYRIZA-led government does its best to reach an honourable agreement with its European and international partners that respects both the obligations of Greece as a European member state, but also the Greek peoples' electoral mandate.

The SYRIZA-led government has already started a series of reforms that tackle corruption and widespread tax evasion. Spending is reined in and collected tax revenue exceeds expectations, reaching a primary budget surplus of 2.16 billion (January-April 2015), far above the initial estimation for a 287 million deficit. Meanwhile, Greece has honoured all debt obligations by its own resources -- a unique case among European nations -- since any disbursement of funds has been cut off since August 2014.

Four months of exhausting negotiations have passed, where Greece’s creditors systematically insist on forcing on the SYRIZA-led government the exact austerity program that was rejected by the Greek people in the January 25, 2015, elections. Liquidity asphyxiation orchestrated by the institutions has led to a critical situation for our country’s finances, making it unbearable to serve upcoming debt obligations.

The Greek government has done its best to reach an agreement, but red lines -- having to do with sustainable and not unrealistic primary surpluses, the restoration of collective contracts and the minimum wage, workers’ protection from massive lay-offs, the protection of wages, pensions and the social security system from further cuts, stopping “fire-sale” privatisations etc. -- are to be respected. Popular sovereignty and democratic mandates are to be respected. Greek people’s patience and goodwill is not to be mistaken as willingness to succumb to unprecedented blackmail. European democracy is not to be asphyxiated.

Times are crucial; political will from our European partners is needed to overcome the current stalemate. This call is not just a call for solidarity, it is a call for due respect of the foremost of European values.

In this framework, SYRIZA appeals to all progressive and democratic social and political actors who acknowledge that Greece’s fight is not limited within its national borders, but constitutes a fight for democracy and social justice in Europe.

In these critical moments, we are calling for acts of social and political solidarity, ranging from the organisation of rallies and awareness campaigns across Europe, to institutional initiatives in local, regional and national parliaments, and personal or collective statements of support to the efforts of Greece to shift the European paradigm from disastrous austerity to a new model for sustainable growth.

Your support is of utmost importance, not only for the people of Greece, but for the fate of the European idea.

With our warmest regards,

Tasos Koronakis, secretary of the Central Committee of SYRIZA.

For more information, please see the latest statement by the Political Secretariat of SYRIZA:Opens external link in new window here.

 

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Varoufakis: Paying wages and pensions a priority over debt

http://greece.greekreporter.com/2015/05/19/greek-finmin-varoufakis-wages-and-pensions-a-priority-hopeful-for-imf-payments/

May 19

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said that payments for wages and pensions are a priority and if was to choose between paying Greece’s creditors or the country’s population he would choose the latter.

“I hope we will be able to pay both (the IMF and pensions and wages) … after a deal,” Yanis Varoufakis told Star TV channel’s late night show Ston Eniko.

“If we face a dilemma over paying one of the lenders or wages and pensions, then we will opt to pay wages and pensions,” he said

Varoufakis appeared hopeful that Greece will reach a deal with its creditors very soon, adding that there will be no more cuts on pensions.

“The Greek government may take measures concerning early retirement. Some employees, for example bank employees, have the advantage of early retirement this is something that we may change,” he said.

However, Varoufakis said he would reject any compromise that the Greek government considered to be “non-viable.”
Athens has defended “red lines” beyond which it will not be pushed in its talks with the lenders. These include further pension cuts and increased market liberalization.
“I assure you that if we face a dilemma between paying a creditor who refuses to sign an agreement with us and a pensioner, we will pay the pensioner,” Varoufakis told the television channel. “I hope we will be able to pay both.”

Varoufakis ruled out the possibility of a referendum on the terms of an agreement, saying it would effectively be a vote on whether to keep the euro as a currency.
“It would be unfair for Greek citizens to have to take a position on such a matter, answering with either a yes or a no,” he said.

He warned that Greece is in a state of “financial strangulation,” and criticized the lack of liquidity that the country was being subjected to.
“The lack of liquidity is neither the choice nor the responsibility of the Greek government,” he said. “It is a tough negotiating tactic of our partners, and I do not know whether everybody in Europe feels proud of it,” he said.

A full translation and video of the discussions:

Week of action "With the Greeks against austerity": June 20-26

More than 60 people representing around 40 organizations (networks, trade unions, parties, social platforms, see the list below) attended the meeting called by several European networks. We do not pretend to represent all European social movements. We just decided to join our forces to work together for the action mentioned below. We call all other interested organizations to join us in this effort. In a more long term, we are interested in doing a step forward creating a European Front against Austerity and for Democracy.

The Greek struggle is our struggle: We will try to link the “Greek question” – since we all are concerned and the demands of the Greek people and government are convergent with the movements’ aims to change Europe – as a transversal question with all the struggles, movements and initiatives taking place during the next 2 months all over Europe. A call coming from Greece and a common logo will be the supports for this inter-linked campaign.
The participants of the Athens meeting 2 May call all movements, unions, political forces to contribute to that mobilization.

1. Campaign towards the Week of action

We have to launch as soon as possible a European campaign in solidarity with Greece and as a common struggle against austerity culminating in a European week of decentralized action in June (from 20th to 26th of June). We have also to be flexible if crucial political momentsbefore.

In order to give strength to this initiative, it is now very important to build strong national coordinations.

Three key moments for the week of action:
a start of the week in accordance with the Athens meeting of concrete solidarity networks, the divulgation of the first conclusions of the Debt Audit Commission and the international day of refugees on 20th of June, an idea still to be decided on is to combine different EU issues in a demonstration in Berlin. Other proposals : press conference ? Symbolic European action ?
decentralized and visible actions in Europe, diversity and originality of action ;
an international political event in Athens on 27th of June (on labour issues?).

A Call will be sent by our Greek comrades as well as a logo to be used in all our activities on the coming weeks (connecting issues).

In order to facilitate the preparation of our campaign we set up on the basis of the declaration of the German tradeunions (Greece after the Elections – not a Threat but an opportunity for Europe, http://www.europa-neu-begruenden.de/griechenland-eine-chance-für-europa/greece-after-the-elections-not-a-threat-but-an-opportunity-for europe) and the call of the AlterSummit ("Give Greece a chance", http://www.altersummit.eu/accueil/article/give-greece-a-chance ) a coordination committee consisting of both the European actors and the coordination groups in the different countries. The week of action and the political event will be publicly advertised on behalf of networks, organisations (maybe even personalities) who endorse the call but not the coordination group whose mandate will expire in July.

2. Communication/information/explanation work

We need to have and spread correct information coming from Greece (and about the negotiation process) ; we need to build a narrative going beyond « Solidarity with Greece » to « It is also our struggle » ; we need to spread counter arguments to those of EU institutions & Co ; we need to react quickly when something important happens ; we need to have an effective media strategiy ;

To partially respond these needs, a website is now launched : www.change4all.eu
You can fill the website with information coming from your country. Do not hesitate to send information to contact@change4all.eu or anastasiou@transform-network.net

But we need more in terms of communication ! Specially for the week of action.

3. Marchas de la Dignidad Europa

Converging Marches from different European countries to Brussels : against austerity, TTIP, fiscal heavens and for democracy were proposed by the Spanish Attac representatives. .
There is a consensus about the importance and the utility of this action but the dates proposed (end August, beginning September) seems not to match very well.
- > More discussions and mobilization are needed.
A good date for a final action in Brussels could be on 15th of October (day of action of Belgian platforms to disturb the European Council meeting).

4. International Conference of Solidarity 4 All

Gathering all concrete solidarity actions/grass roots movements in a big event in Greece.
Will be finally in Autumn. More news soon.

5. International citizen conference on debt

The place is not decided yet as well as the form of the event.
Probably around October.

6. Towards a European Front against Austerity and for Democracy...

To make a step forward, the idea of creating a Front has been launched. The attendance was very interested in such a proposal. Can be a space for political debates.

Building a front is
building common shared political analysis/background and European demands
connecting with a maximum of social forces and going beyond our networks (citizens...)
connecting the initiative with national and local ones

It is an ambitious program, but the time has come to be ambitious !

Other possible dates to mobilize/discuss/meet (introduced by participants of the meeting)
8th of May : 70 years of the end of WWII
30/31 of May : Forum of Alternatives in Paris
9/10/11 of June : People’s Summit in Brussels (sidelines UE-Celac Summit)

List of participating organizations and countries

Organization Country
Transform Austria, Greece, France
Blockupy Germany
Die Linke Germany
Izquierda Unida Spain
European Left Hungary, France, Italy
Attac Spain, France, Germany, Greece
Red Agua Publica Spain
ICTU Youth Ireland
Greek Solidarity Committee Ireland
Solidarity 4 All Greece
Podemos Spain
Comisiones Obreras Spain
CIG Spain
Syriza Greece
Association of Cancer Patients Athens KEFI Greece
European Alternatives Italy
Network for Political and Social Rights Athens Greece
EKA Greece
Solidarité Santé France/Greece
Fiom/CGIL Italy
GGIL Italy
Fondation Copernic France
FGTB Wallonne Belgium
CADTM Belgium
Socialistische Partij Netherlands
Ecologists Greens Greece
Euromemo Group Greece
Federation of Tax Employees Greece
Society Culture of Peace Germany
LO I Oslo Norway
No to EU Norway
TUNE-Network, Union of Municipal Employee Norway
Nico Poulantzas Institute Greece
Feminist group To Mov Greece
ARCI Italy
Solidaires France
Alter Summit Belgium

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