Alexis Tsipras, the alleged leader of Syriza, who came to power with the sole mission of returning Greece to the Greeks, turned out to be a false prophet, a hoax, a distraction, a traitor.
Written by Luis R. Miranda and Stephen J. Lendman
It is true that Greece got into trouble way before Alexis Tsipras became the leader of Syriza.
It all started after Greece entered the EU via the falsification of data and documents by Goldman Sachs. But every single politician in Greece knew that their country was in no condition to become part of the EU. Furthermore, all political parties in Greece knew that the country was in dire need to change and that such change included renouncing the illegal debt, the loans that were given to Greece even though everyone knew the country could not pay them back.
Just when everyone thought Greece had lost its way forever, a new leader riding on the horse of hope and change loomed on the horizon.
He promised to reject the ways of the Troika, the illegal debt and above all, to return Greece to the Greeks. He told the disenfranchised that austerity would soon be over, that pensions would not be touched and that his government would invest in rescuing those who had lost their jobs and livelihoods.
While Marie Le Penn and Nigel Farage rose in the polls in France and Britain, Alexis Tsipras began to ride the wave of popularity in Greece due to its populist rhetoric. But the honey moon lasted very little.
Tsipras Caves in before the Troika
Not too long after he was elected, Tsipras and his government issued a decree requiring all public entities and local councils to surrender all their reserves to the Greek Central Bank. This move, Tsipras explained, was a response to the lack of funds in government coffers. Given the urgent need for funding, the Executive, in its inability to generate cash, issued an order to allow the government to fund pensions and salaries. “With this decree, the government hopes to meet needs of the State which are worth 3 billion euros in the next 15 days,” said the Executive. The rule must still be approved by Parliament.
As early as April 2015, experts were already warning about a Greek default. “The default seems inevitable. We believe that the Greek government will come to some agreement with its creditors to unlock the 7.2 billion that is outstanding. We do not recommend having Greek debt at this juncture because it doesn’t seem that volatility will be reduced in the short term,” said Eirini Tsekeridou, fixed income analyst at Julius Baer.
Two months later, the unthinkable happened. The man who promised to end austerity caved in to the demands of the Troika. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, offered new concessions to creditors in pensions and increasing VAT. These two concessions were partial steps to achieve an agreement that would unblock the next financial rescue of the banks and avoid default.
The Government of Syriza accepted delaying the retirement age to 67 years and penalizing early retirement. It also increased social contributions, as contained in a proposal submitted to the Troika.
In regards to the VAT, Greece undertook the task of applying such a tax to most products at the general rate of 23%. The reduced rate of 13% would be limited only to energy, basic food and hotels, while there would be a reduced rate of 6% for medical supplies and books.
Tsipras also accepted the most controversial measure of all: gradually eliminating allowances for pensioners, a measure that will start in 2018, and replace it for pensions in 2020, as well as increase from 4% to 5% the contributions of pensioners to the health system. Tsipras accepted the fiscal targets set by creditors: 1% of primary surplus, excluding interests, in 2015, 2% next year, 3% in 2017 and 3.5% in 2018, as proposed in the 11 pages document send to Brussels by his administration.
The counter offer that never happened
By the end of June, the Greek people began to realize that it was all a dream. Alexis Tsipras began his plan to deceive the Greeks who had given him the mandate to end austerity.
He called for a referendum so people could vote on the latest proposal issued by Greece’s creditors while he was actually considering that very same proposal as a way to gain credibility with the Troika.
Tsipras publicly asked the Greek people to decide what they wanted to do, but the massive rejection of the Troika’s proposal in the referendum was not enough for Tsipras to say to to the bankers.
The conditions contained in the proposal made by the Troika were clear. If accepted, Greece would choose to live forever in debt and to continue paying interests on the debt, without ever being able to pay it off.
The opposition of the Greek people to more austerity and more debt only found a voice with Greece’s Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis, who rejected those options from the beginning and until the day he was asked to leave his position.
Tsipras betrays the Greek People
Nothing less than the complete refusal of the illegal debt would have been a defeat for Greece, yet, the ‘strong man’ who was elected because he promised not to bend to the Troika did just that and, once again, delivered Greece into the hands of the Troika.
The Prime Minister, who had rejected the proposal of the Eurogroup, had practically accepted all the conditions set out in the proposal. The text of a letter that Tsipras sent to the creditors, revealed by the Financial Times, said that Greece “was ready to accept” the conditions of the European offer, with some minor amendments.
With this letter, Tsipras hoped to achieve an extension to the second bailout that had expired the day before and the development of a third bailout. On his last minute offer, Tsipras maintained most of the conditions requested in the proposal put forward by the Eurogroup and added some of his own, such as the VAT tax rate for touristic institutions, which would be of 13%, a growth package of 35 billion and a reference to the restructuring of the debt.
Tsipras’ conditions included setting a special discount of 30% of the VAT to the Greek islands, a minimum delay on increasing the retirement age and an extension to the deadlines to remove the pension supplement funds which was awarded to the lowest incomes.
The 50 billion euro sellout
The referendum was a smoke screen by Tsipras to legitimize his plan to keep Greece in the euro zone under heavy austerity measures.
Athens had conceded more than anyone had ever imagined after the NO vote on the Sunday referendum.
The Greek government had already submitted an application for a third program of financial aid to the European rescue mechanism, a plan that requested 50 billion euros to supposedly take Greece and Europe out of the most acute phase of the European crisis.
With that proposal, the Greek Government made three large concessions. The first one was Tsipras’ request for a loan as a partial measure to hold Greece above water. This request later became a cry for a complete financial rescue program that would do nothing less than rescue the French and German banks while leaving the Greek people adrift.
Tsipras’ plan implied even more conditions that would be imposed by the Troika and even more evaluations. European sources explained that such evaluations might come as often as every 30 days.
The second concession was a rise in VAT and the reform of the pension system as early as a week later. Those were some of the proposals included in Tsipras’ latest proposal sent to Europe in the form of a letter on June 30, where he had asked to delay the pension reform until October.
The third aspect in which Athens gave in to Europe was debt restructuring. In his request, Tsipras requested to put it off until the fall.
In exchange for many of its requests, Greece had to agree to adopt priority measures such as cuts or reforms if it wanted to avoid a default. In parallel, Europe should ensure some margin for financial institutions that were nearing financial collapse due to the continued outflow of deposits.
The referendum’s vote in Greece had been a demonstration of democracy, except for the move by the government of Alexis Tsipras to take the new mandate to submerge Greece deeper into debt.
The example of democracy was being used by Tsipras to do what Europe wanted, not what the Greek people asked him to do.
Yanis Varoufakis’ exit from the government was the sign that Tsipras would not try to deliver Greece from perpetual debt, but that he would sink it even deeper. Varoufakis was the only inconvenience left for Tsipras to negotiate with the Troika at their convenience.
The referendum was the way in which Syriza’s leader masterfully prepared the field to bring more suffering to the Greek people and to betray the trust placed in him by the Greeks.
Tsipras’ actions post referendum were clear proof that he sought to swindle his supporters into believing that a NO vote in the referendum would guarantee transparency and a future free from a debt that was illegally placed on the Greek people by previous administrations. Merkel and Hollande also played along their roles in the plan to keep Greece chained down.
Syriza’s supporters in Spain and Latin America were also cheated. The Greek crisis went from being a defeat for the Troika and the banks to being their strongest victory after Tsipras sought a new financial bailout of the foreign banks that held Greece’s illegal debt.
Predatory banking settles in Greece
The NO vote by the people in Greece turned into a green light for Tsipras to further destroy the nation.
Predatory monied interests made serial killers look good by comparison. Their business model that created the crisis to facilitate grand theft, financial terrorism and debt entrapment was now fully in power in Greece.
They held Greece captive to their demands. They turned a crisis into a humanitarian disaster. They created mass impoverishment, high unemployment, neo-serfdom and human wreckage. They were more dangerous than standing armies. They waged war by other means. They were a malignancy ravaging societies and humanity for profit.
The Fed, ECB, Bank of England, IMF, World Bank and all other corrupted Western political officials served their interests exclusively, and now they were joined by Alexis Tsipras and Syriza. The Prime Minister’s sellout to Troika bandits assured Greece’s destruction. It was already a zombie country.
Greek people had already suffered hugely from deprivation and Tsipras’ betrayal assured harder than ever times; a downward cycle to oblivion. Their choice was to resist, starve or leave.
Tsipras-led SYRIZA’s unconscionable capitulation defying overwhelming anti-austerity sentiment wrote Greece’s obituary. He agreed to more punishing neoliberal harshness than voters rejected last Sunday.
SYRIZA lost its legitimacy. It wrote-off long-suffering millions, assuring them greater misery. It showed democracy no longer exists in its birthplace.
Tsipras chose Debt Slavery
The Troika triumphed over the Greek people. Alexis Tsipras partially defied the European gods, but did not have enough guts to take the battle for freedom to the end of the line.
Previous governments, with the help of Goldman Sachs falsified official documents to allow Greece to enter the European Union, and today the Greek people are paying the price.
The Referendum where millions of Greeks gave Tsipras a mandate to crush the bankers who illegally brought indebted servitude to them, became a tool for the Greek Prime Minister to accept all conditions imposed by the Troika and then some.
The Greek people faced the condemnation of a debt that, for the most part, was not theirs, but that belongs to the bankers that lent Greece money that they knew the country could not pay.
Rivers of ink spilled and algorithms were crunched in an attempt to diagnose the problem but few pointed to the real cause of the problem. The cause is almost as eternal as the consequences for the Greek people. It is the 21 century version of an ancient Greek tragedy.
The wannabe hero fell as a result of a “tragic error”: him coming to power. In almost all cases, the tragic failure ends up being a variant of the same theme, the pride that blinds the protagonist to its own limitations. In the case of Tsipras, he went to war with both a shield and a sword, but lacked courage.
The first to say YES to Greece’s destruction was Tsipras himself, after he accepted some of the harshest conditions in order to get a third bailout for the German and French banks.
Greece and Europe reached an agreement with Greece accepting all the conditions to receive a new round of liquidity that would in turn be transferred to its creditors. The Greek Government would receive approximately 86 billion euros over three years, although the exact amount of the loan turned out to be higher.
Total Greek Surrender
In exchange for the 86 billion loan, Greece surrendered its public assets. It is the main novelty of the measures. Europe proposed to create a fund worth 50 billion euros to which Greece would transfer all assets to be privatized and whose benefits would allegedly serve to reduce its debt.
There was little precedent for a fund like this in Europe and it represented a kind of guarantee that required Greece to respect the third rescue. Although in theory the instrument would be left to the Greek authorities, in practice it was “under the supervision of European institutions”. In other words, the European banks became the new owners of every single asset that Greece added to the private fund.
In the event of a new Greek default, all those assets will effectively become property of the banks. The question was what were the chances that Greece could default again? It was and it still is as real as the fact that the sun will rise every morning until de end times.
In regards to pensions, the EU demanded “ambitious reforms to the pension system” and measures to achieve a zero deficit in the public accounts. Pensions were one of the workhorses of the Greek strategy.
In the latest proposal, Athens accepted the whole package proposed by the EU, which meant raising the retirement age to 67 and freezing pensions until 2021. The reform was also presented to Parliament along with four other urgent measures that the Troika demanded that Greece approved immediately as a condition to receive more debt.
In the labour market, the Europeans demanded further tightening in labor laws. The partners argued for a “rigorous review” of collective bargaining, industrial policy and collective redundancies. They suggested a “no return to past policies.” This meant withdrawing negotiating power from unions and workers’ groups, ending workers’ rights and leaving the poor and the working class at the mercy of the technocrats that will take power in the Greek Executive after the coming fall elections.
In the financial sector, Europe demanded “decisive action” in the credits at risk of default. Without help, the financial sector could rush towards bankruptcy, which is what the new measures that were adopted under the new debt program would encourage.
Regarding privatizations, the Troika wanted more of it. The Greek assets to be privatized included the power grid that Athens intended to maintain under state power.
In the public administration area, the agreement called for the “modernization and significant strengthening of the Greek administration”. The Government of Alexis Tsipras accepted to launch, “under the auspices of the European Commission”, a program to “depoliticize the Greek administration”.
Snap election to bury the ‘no’ vote of the referendum
Candidate Tsipras made glowing pledges. Straightaway in office he breached them.
Politicians of all stripes notoriously made promises they systematically compromised or violated.
It’s hard imagining anything in prospect able to end Greece’s long nightmare. Its political class is beholden to Troika monied interests running things.
No party is strong enough to win majority control. SYRIZA will likely retain enough support to govern with one or more coalition partners.
Western monied interests intend looting the country, pillaging its crown jewels, keeping it debt entrapped, exploiting its people more than already, destroying its sovereignty, and making it a dystopian Troika controlled colony -a testimony to predatory capitalism’s viciousness no one should tolerate.
Alexis Tsipras was a Judas all along. The Greek Prime Minister faked his progressive credentials. He was a Judas all along – pretending opposition to austerity to get elected, planning betrayal straightaway in office.