New nonpaper by the Greek government, slamming EC President Juncker

The Greek government just released another nonpaper (in the same day!), this time hitting on statements made by President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker. You can find the original (in Greek) here, and the translated version below.

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The nonpaper of the Greek government regarding the state of negotiations

Non paper of the Greek government on the current state of the negotiations.

May 5, 2015

  1. The serious disagreements and contradictions between the IMF and the EU are creating obstacles in the negotiations, as well as high risks. While until recently the main argument of the institutions was that the Greek side did not submit complete proposals, now it is clear that proposals have indeed been submitted and that there have been substantial concessions towards the direction of an “honorable compromise.”
  1. The difference of strategy, however, between the institutions is creating obstacles.
    • The IMF puts its red lines on the reforms, especially on pension and labour reforms, while it has loose lines on the topic of the primary surplus. On the back of the mind of the IMF lies the thought of debt write off, so that this can be rendered sustainable.
    • On the contrary, the European Commission has red lines on the topic of the primary surplus, and consequently, on the issue of not cutting the debt, and loose lines on tough reforms, such as those regarding pensions and labour relations.
  1. As a result, the totality of the institutions has red lines everywhere: pension reforms, labour reforms (IMF), and primary surplus (EC). Under these circumstances there can be no compromise. The responsibility belongs exclusively to the institutions and their weakness of communicating with each other.
  1. The Greek government, having realized the glaring contradiction, decided to take the initiative:
    • not to bring [for a vote] in the Parliament the multi-bill before there is potential for an agreement.
    • to put on the table of discussion the ‘next day,’ that is, the exit plan [of the country] towards the markets and the financing of growth in the post-June era.
  1. Today’s FT [Financial Times] fully reveal the contradictory strategies utilized between the Eurozone and the IMF (see the article of Peter Spiegel). The FT reveal that the head of the European department of the IMF, Paul Thomsen, has warned the Finance Ministers of the Eurozone that “perhaps the IMF will not provide its share of the tranche of 7.2bn euros” if “they do not write-off a significant part of Greece’s debt.” At the same time, P. Spiegel notes that “the Eurozone, which owns the biggest part of the Greek debt, is firmly opposed to the [idea of] debt relief.”
  1. At the same time, the European Commissioner for Economic & Financial Affairs, Taxation & Customs, Pierre Moscovisi, confirmed the contradiction between the EC and the IMF, saying that the issue of the debt “can be discussed only after an agreement on a reform program.” A strategic disagreement, which has Greece at its epicenter, between the EC and the IMF, and works to the detriment of the country.

Addendum: You can find a version of the nonpaper in Greek, here.

Syriza vs corruption: tracing its stance since 2010

I bumped into a very interesting Greek article today, published in the webzine Epikairo, that gives a good indication of Syriza’s former meddling with anti-corruption and tax evasion legislation. While the angle of those writing the article is clearly one of a devoted center-left voter (I would assume PASOK or DIM.AR.), the article itself is quite interesting for people from all ideological presuppositions. It traces 6 of the draft bills that were voted in the Greek parliament since 2010, which pertain to anti-corruption and combatting tax evasion. As it seems, Syriza has been continuously undermining all efforts to combat these issues when legislation was proposed by other parties, either by voting “present,” or simply “no” to those bills.

Today, Syriza seems committed to hit hard on tax-evasion, corruption, oligarchs, and the cartels. In fact, the proclamations of Yanis Varoufakis and Alexis Tsipras suggest that Syriza will invest heavily in anti-corruption policies, both during the interim 4-month extension of the existing program, but also afterwards. They both also seem to believe that they can amass great amounts of money out of such measures, and quite quickly for that matter. Up until its rise to power, however, Syriza had not craze about anti-corruption. One could say that Syriza did not want to help the parties of the establishment to pass ‘half-hearted’ legislation, especially given the fact that there were specific provisions in favor of the status-quo sneaked in many of these laws. One could also argue that the previous stance of Syriza should not be taken heavily into account, since now that it is in the government it will have the leverage (apart from the will!) to draft meaningful legislation and implement much-needed policies contra the aforementioned pathologies.

To a large extent, I agree: how Syriza operated in the past should not be seen as a determinant of how it will function in the future. Nevertheless, it is indicative of the larger anti-reformist stance of the party, a continuous intransigence not to cooperate with the remaining parties of the “status-quo” (well, that was before it became part of it), and its dependence in its clientelistic linkages with public sector workers and specific interest groups. (These clientelistic linkages, of course, were created by the two former big parties of the status-quo – PASOK and thereupon New Democracy. Nevertheless, Syriza increasingly joined the game since the beginning of the crisis, taking advantage of the dissatisfaction of the clientelistic state with the status-quo, and taking over the reigns from the two other parties.)

In any case, you can find the Greek version of the article here. Right below, you can find my translation of it. (Bear in mind: it was written in early January, before the Greek Elections had happened.)

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