The troika supervising Greece’s relegation into poverty, unemployment and a Third World economy based on tourism, olives and cheap wine has been laying down the law to the New Democracy-Pasok-Kavala coalition government.
The troika represents the unelected European Commission, the unelected European Central Bank and the unelected International Monetary Fund.
Their reps are sleek, cold-blooded accountants, travelling first class and staying five-star while acting for the banks. In the past they have screwed Egypt, Brazil, Argentina, Nigeria and Jamaica with their “open door” (read “open slather”) approach and “no state subsidies” on flour, rice, sugar, bread, transport, fuel or water.
At the top of their list of “reforms” for Greece is wholesale privatisation of public assets. In other words, here come the bankers and their cronies to make one last killing at the expense of the Greek people.
First state utility on the chopping block will be the Hellenic State Lotteries Company. How much money will change hands as the bidding starts for this juicy jackpot?
(By the way, who copped a sling for the sale of NSW Lotteries under Labor?)
Others being prepared for sale are the natural gas group DEPA-DESFA, the former Elleniko Airport real estate property, the International Broadcasting Centre (built for the Olympics) plus seafront properties on the islands of Corfu and Rhodes.
The blissful, secluded island properties are probably earmarked for IMF officials, Eurobankers or oligarchs from London, Paris or Berlin.
Also in the great Hellenic sell-off will be 28 state office buildings, railway operations, 12 port facilities at Piraeus and Thessaloniki and 10 regional harbours.
Alexis Tsipras, leader of main left-wing opposition Syriza party, has attacked the proposal but is not offering a principled opposition. He merely says the right-social democrat coalition is proposing to sell the assets “too cheaply”.
Meanwhile, the anti-privatisation campaign has moved into the workers’ movement with Pasok and Stalinist bureaucrats doing what they always do – trying to avoid a showdown.
RODENTS LEAVE SHIP
The Deputy Labor Minister in the three-party coalition government has resigned over the Euro-bankers’ austerity stranglehold being placed on the Greek people.
It is the third resignation from the government since it was patched together at the end of May.
Greece with one out of four people out of work is being asked to introduce a new raft of wage, pension and spending cuts in return for a 130 billion Euro bail-out – which, as you’ve guessed, will plunge the economy into deeper debt and deeper recession.
No here believes 1) the coalition can survive; 2) the country can avoid bankruptcy/default; and 3) that it will remain in the Euro-zone.
A PAGE FROM HISTORY
On October 28, 1940, Mussolini’s fascist army invaded Greece. The Italian high command believed the tightly planned campaign would last 22 days.
Italy was an emerging industrialised state of 44.5 million people while Greece had an underdeveloped largely rural economy with 7.2 million.
The Italian ground forces totalled 74,000 soldiers supported by tanks, artillery, mortars and 400 aircraft. The Greeks mobilised 35,000 soldiers, they had no tanks, only 115 aircraft and limited anti-tank weapons.
If they could conquer mainland Greece and then Crete (the fascists already governed Libya), Hitler’s Axis powers would enjoy commanding strategic power in the eastern Mediterranean and Mussolini would fulfil his ambition of imperial influence in the Balkans.
The fascists calculated that the Greek people, demoralised by the Great Depression and despising the military dictatorship of General Ionnis Metaxis, would not rally in defence of their nation and therefore would be a pushover. It was a fatal miscalculation.
Under-manned, under-armed and under-trained the Greek regulars supported by reservists and irregulars nevertheless routed Mussolini’s fascists and drove them back into Albania which Italy had invaded in 1939.
By April 21, 1941, Greece could claim victory.
In London there were wild celebrations: it was the first Allied military success following a string of collapses, surrenders and defeats in the European war zone. The myth of the invincibility of the Axis had been broken by tiny Greece.
Eminent war historians, including John Keegan, believe the Greek victory changed the course of World War Two: it forced Hitler to deploy additional troops to the Greek sector and delayed the start of the campaign against the Soviet Union. The critical six-week delay resulted in the Wehrmacht being caught in the deadly jaws of a fierce Russian winter and the rest, as they say, is history.
The business scribblers, economists and bankers of the time did not refer to the Greeks as tax-dodging bludgers. They called them “our saviours”.
Next: The Nazis invade Greece.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“The old City of London was snobbish, racist and sexist but at least you had the integrity of the marketplace.”
Investment baker Philip Augar, author of The Death of Gentlemanly Capitalism.