Greece: Panagiotis Lafazanis -- SYRIZA 'will not bow down, neither will it surrender'


Panagiotis Lafazanis.

For more analysis and discussion on SYRIZA's struggle against austerity, click HERE

By Panagiotis Lafazanis, minister of reconstruction of production, environment and energy.

April 29, 2015 -- CRASH magazine, translated by The Greek Analyst, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Panagiotis has been involved in negotiating with Russia for a gas pipeline to Greece. He is a member of SYRIZA's Left Platform grouping. The Greek version can be found on the website of the ministry, here.

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Greece, through time, in all of the difficult times that it underwent, managed to find the strength to stand upright and cope with storms.

The critical historical juncture faced today by our people is not unprecedented.

We have passed in our history equally bad, perhaps even worse periods of time. Periods during which the isolation of the country seemed depressing and insuperable. We managed, however, to pull through.

And we pulled through, mainly thanks to self-sacrifice, unparalleled morale, fighting spirit and determination of a people, who put above everything else its survival, its dignity and justice.

This is the great historical challenge that we face today.

Today, the rescue of the country is closely linked to the rejection of insubordination, to our desire of enduring in difficulties and to our decision of connecting our great “NO”s with our unwavering effort for a new and progressive path of reconstruction, recovery and prospective rebirth of the country.

If only an agreement could be found that would represent an “honest compromise” – although this term is inappropriate, fluid and fits everything and nothing.

Nevertheless, the so-called partners and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) do not ask from the government for an agreement that respects fundamentally the survival of the Greek people and the recent radical popular verdict.

What the cruellest and most ruthless vested centres in Berlin, Brussels and the IMF want from the country is “earth and water”. They are asking for subordination and surrender. They are asking for new measures of pension and wage cuts, sellout of the country, new taxes and further deregulations.

Our government will not bow down, neither will it surrender.

SYRIZA will never co-sign new measures at the expense of the working classes. SYRIZA will not accept an agreement that would be incompatible to its radical commitments.

If Berlin, Brussels and the IMF believe that they will either drag the country and the government into submission, or they will push us towards collapsing, they are making a double mistake. Neither the one, nor the other will happen.

If our “partners” and the IMF believe that they will blackmail us using the refusal of financing as a weapon, and that they will terrorise the Greek people forever using the “boogey man” of default and of a national currency, they are woefully deluded.

Greece has many other alternative paths [it can choose from] and it can have potential without financing from the EU and the IMF, and without the European Central Bank liquidity provided by the drop to the banks.

Greece can cope against the “water torture” applied by the EU and the IMF, and which chokes the economy and leads to the suffocation of households.

While Greece can have alternative solutions, something similar is not true for the EU, but also the IMF, and their predatory policies.

The problems that the EU – which is reeling – will have to face from an alternative progressive Greece will be enormous, and might prove to be non-manageable and insurmountable.

Socks can be unpicked even by one point.

Greece, together with Cyprus, comprise of the south-eastern side of Europe, at the boundary of three continents.

The political and geostrategic weight of the country is critical, if not essential.

Our economic dimension, also, is not negligible in qualitative possibilities.

It is difficult to conceive of a European Union, even in appearance, without Greece. The geopolitical vacuum will be tragic. As it is also out of time and place for some to think that the economic repercussions of a Greek moratorium, or even more of a Grexit, will be politically and economically insignificant for the future of the European Union.

Greece will be able to cope, and slowly-slowly come back to its feet, after a rupture with the European Union that will be imposed by its dominant circles. The EU, however, will possibly – however paradoxical this seems – be subjected to a grave, and even mortal wound, in such a case.

Europe has every interest to truly support Greece, and not to remain attached to intransigent, religious-type neoliberal orthodoxies and neocolonial hegemonies.

Βesides, the harsh neoliberal path blindly followed by the eurozone and the EU will cause a deep economic paralysis and decline in the euro-united front.

On the other hand, the dominance of Germany in the EU has provided the latter with the appearance of an uncompromising Germanic Europe, which sees next to the German monetary and economic domination the American politico-military umbrella prevailing.

In any case, however, Greece must play a pioneering role through its path and its contribution for a progressive subversion in Europe. The neoliberal monetarist Germanic Europe and a eurozone that has dogmatic architecture, constructed for the “lobby” of the North, have no future. This Europe will be drowning in its economic stagnation, its growing oppositions and controversies, while it will be multiplying the number of social divisions and poverty.

The progressive subversion in Greece can be the first step of a larger reversal in Europe. An overturn in our country does not imply only a new progressive path with socialist horizons, but also the discharge of our country from the shackles of servitude and dependence, and the implementation of a new, genuine, independent and multidimensional foreign and economic policy.

The position of the government to encourage the construction of a gas pipeline on Greek soil – which will begin from the Greek-Turkish borders and go all the way to our borders with former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and which will transport Russian natural gas via an underwater pipeline through the Black Sea – is included in this logic.

Such a large construction project, as long as it materialised, would have extremely important energy and fiscal-related benefits for the country, while it would open a qualitatively new chapter in the development of Greek-Russian relations, which could provide a new form to the region and Europe.

Greece, having SYRIZA as its trunk, with the Trans Adriatic Pipeline that brings Azeri gas and with the new pipeline that brings Russian gas, but also through a series of other efforts and initiatives, wants to become a pluralistic energy node of cooperation, peace and stability in the region and in Europe. For a Europe without new Cold War-like walls, without the logic of isolating countries, without hegemonic dominations, without neocolonial attitudes, in which new values of equal cooperation and co-development of the people, the countries (in between them) and the neighboring regions will exist.

Greece can and must open multidimensional horizons of economic and political relations that will form new footholds, not only in Russia, but also in China, Brazil, Latin America, India, the Arab world, the African zone and, of course, the area of the Mediterranean bowl.

SYRIZA’s Greece will stop being an American-Atlantic plot [of sea], German fief or satellite state of the US-Israeli Middle East axis and is not a country that will be offered for sale, privatising its strategic sectors of economy, its strategic operations, its strategic infrastructures and its strategic networks.

Under the framework of the new foreign and economic policy, Greece rejects the dichotomous and vassal co-pooling of the Aegean sea, either with the US or with Turkey, or with both of them together, while it seeks to exploit its mineral wealth and potential hydrocarbon reserves based on international law and its national interest.

Exactly following international law, and especially the Law of the Seas, we want the problems in the Aegean Sea to be solved, so as for the latter to become a sea of peace, a bridge of friendship and cooperation for the benefit of the countries and the people who border this beautiful sea.

Greece, in this very difficult time, in one of the most difficult times in its history, is facing a historic challenge: to turn the crisis and the tragedy into opportunity and possibility.

We can win this bet if we isolate the “fifth column” that was always the curse of this place. The “fifth column” of the incumbent foreign centres, of the oligarchs, of the dominant media and of the domestic political servitude towards them. We can succeed, if we showcase unity as a people, fighting spirit and tenacity, a will for large demonstrations, resistance and strength against the temporary adversities, thinking of the progressive rectifier future that we must build for the generations to come.