European Left: Greece bridging agreement first step to ending austerity

The Party of the European Left said: 'We are continuing to follow our work of rallying together all over Europe against austerity'.

February 26, 2015 -- Green Left Weekly, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The SYRIZA government's list of reforms, drawn up as part of its temporary four-month loan extension deal, was accepted by the Eurogroup on February 24.

In a February 25 statement, the Party of the European Left (EL) said: "The fight for democracy and against austerity in Europe is far from being finished, but this bridging agreement is a very important first step.The Greek government has won time in order to implement its program, most notably its humanitarian aspect, the fight against corruption and fiscal fraud. Nothing is unchangeable, neither market domination -- or domination by the German government -- nor austerity."

The Party of the European Left is a Europe-wide political party that includes 26 national left parties -- including SYRIZA -- with seven observer parties.

Its statement said: "The whole Party of the European Left is solidarity with the Greek people and its government, which enjoys a massive support of over 80%. We are supporting the progressive reforms of the Tsipras government in Greece as well as its struggle for a solidary and democratic Europe. We are continuing to follow our work of rallying together, with our friends, all over Europe against austerity and for the refoundation of Europe, organizing notably the first European Forum of Alternatives which will take place in Paris the 30th and 31st of May."

The United European Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL), a European Parliament grouping for left-wing MEPs including from the EL and others left groups, also expressed its support for Greece and its SYRIZA government in its bid to break with austerity.

Greece signed the deal for a four-month loan extension on February 20, in what was a significant compromise on its original proposal for a six-month extension with far less strings attached.

It did so facing extreme pressure by right-wing governments to cave in entirely, lead by Germany, and with JP Morgan estimating "deposit outflows from Greece’s banks accelerated to around €3bn during the week billions of euros flowing out of the country's banking system".

In response to the four-month agreement, GUE/NGL president Gabi Zimmer said: "This last-minute compromise gives Greece the much-needed money to avert national bankruptcy for the time being.

"[German] Finance Minister Schaeuble mostly dominated the talks by taking a very hard line and sticking to the failed austerity dictate up until the very end, although burden-easing is urgently needed to help get the Greek economy back on its feet.

"The Greek government now has some time to work out a reasonable reform programme that does not continue to push the lower and middle class into poverty. It has an opportunity, although a small one,to tackle the humanitarian crisis in the country.

"It also has time to target corruption and nepotism and to build up a fair and efficient tax system which no longer spares both the wealthy and big corporations. These issues were not addressed by the previous government of Conservatives and Social Democrats.

"If the Greek government wants to push for other conditions and criteria during the negotiations on a new agreement, it will need strong international backing. A broad European movement of all who consider the failed EU crisis policy irresponsible is urgently needed."

[See details of a speaking tour of Green Left correspondent Dick Nichols, an eyewitness to SYRIZA's historic election win in January, in cities across Australia during February and March.]