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Germany shows an immoral attitude towards Greece’s problems

Dutch political journalist Hans Kriek interviews N. Peter Kramer, editor-in-chief of European Business Review, and president of the Press Club Brussels-Europe, on the possible political and economic implications if Greece’s far left party SYRIZA, led by Alexis Tsipras, wins the election.

By: EBR - Posted: Friday, January 23, 2015

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On January 25, the Greeks vote in a snap election to elect a new parliament. 

The elections are crucial not only for the country but also for Europe. 

Dutch political journalist Hans Kriek interviews N. Peter Kramer, editor-in-chief of European Business Review, and president of the Press Club Brussels-Europe, on the possible political and economic implications if Greece’s far left party SYRIZA, led by Alexis Tsipras, wins the election. 

KRIEK: Across Europe, the Greek elections are anxiously awaited. It looks like the radical left party SYRIZA may win. What will be the consequences if this party comes to power, for the Euro, the EU and especially for the huge loans that Greece must repay. 

Is there a real chance that Greece will get a prime minister named Tsipras? 

KRAMER: "That's not unthinkable if you look at the Greek polls. At the moment the poll ratings show SYRIZA ahead of New Democracy, the liberal-conservative party lead by current Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. 

But keep in mind polls are polls and not elections. It’s often the case the frontrunner in the polls at the end of the election -day is disappointed by the results. 

What makes winning the election more  important  in Greece compared to other countries is  the winner will receive a bonus of up to 50 extra seats (out of a total of 300) in the Greek Parliament. " 

KRIEK : Why are so many Greeks choosing Tsipras? 

KRAMER: "Many out of sheer desperation. Even food banks who feed poor people have to cut their services. Last week I read there is now no more money even to offer  instant soup, only funding for a plate of bad food. 

Unemployment, especially among young people, is incredibly high. The incomes of many Greeks have fallen after severe cuts to wages. 

People sometimes have to choose whether they spend money on a doctor’s visit or to go to the grocery store. And the worst aspect of all is the sheer utter hopelessness people feel with the current economic situation. 

There is no end in sight. Greece has huge debts and has to repay everything without any flexibility. That is an absolute rule from the so called Troika (European Commission, IMF and European Central Bank). 

However one of the Troika members, the IMF, has reluctantly admitted recently they may have been too tough with the Greeks. 

If he comes to power, Tsipras wants to renegotiate a reduction in the debt repayment amounts   which could make money available to reinvest in the Greek economy and its people. 

But he still believes Greece should remain in the Eurozone and in the EU. His opponent Samaras constantly attacks him with lies and falsehoods.  

Implying the Greeks will end up like an economic basket case similar to North Korean if SYRIZA comes to power.” 

KRIEK:  We know that Chancellor Merkel and her Finance Minister Schauble don’t want to negotiate at all. Merkel has already stated if necessary, the Eurozone may have to consider a Greek exit. 

KRAMER: "From a historical perspective   one could call Merkel’s attitude as  immoral.  60 years ago the most  aggressive  nation in the world,  that  started a massive war, brutally invaded its neighbours, exterminated millions of Jews and other minorities, and destroyed entire cities,  got a gift of 15 billion German marks from  its former enemies. 

Twenty western countries cut nearly half of the debt Germany owed them. 

But not only that: for the rest of the debt Germany received a very beneficial arrangement.  

Which laid the foundation for its economic recovery, one which was so successful it was described as: das Wirtschaftswunder, the economic miracle. 

Therefore isn’t it cynical for Germany to now refuse help to Greece, one of the original twenty countries that offered Germany the possibilities to become the wealthiest nations in Europe. " 

KRIEK: How likely is Europe willing to do everything to keep Greece on board?  

KRAMER: "At the moment ‘Brussels' tries to intimidate the Greek electorate,  European Commissioners, ECB, and individual MEPs, are all warning the Greeks not to vote for Tsipras. 

The best solution will be if the EU sits down with the Greeks to create a better balance between strong growth opportunities for the ailing Greek economy and more flexible rules for debt repayments. 

Preferably in a way, that the Greeks, especially the ones who have suffered most, can gain a decent life and future. Otherwise Greece could become a dangerous time bomb. 

Professor De Grauwe of the London School of Economics, recently pointed out, if SYRIZA will not come to power, New Democracy will stay, one of the two political parties that  in the last twenty years caused all this  misery! " 

KRIEK: But suppose there is a Greek exit; how likely will this cause other countries to leave the Eurozone or the EU? 

KRAMER: "That is hard to say. But if necessary, if Tsipras wins power, I expect a new EU policy for Greece; and probably also for other member states who still have problems, like Ireland, and Portugal. 

Also don’t forget large countries such as France and Italy also have huge troubles with the rigid rules imposed by 'Brussels'. 

Let’s see what Team-Juncker, as the European Commission calls itself will do. They have already showed a more flexible attitude than their predecessor, the Barroso commission".  

Source: thepostonline.nl


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