‘Greece bound to the euro to keep European project alive’
A meeting of EU finance ministers to discuss extra rescue loans for Greece was replaced by a teleconference on Wednesday. The Eurogroup said it is still waiting for Greece to come up with plans to save the €325 million ($428 million) it demands before allowing more emergency funding.
On Wednesday, eurozone leaders were examining ways of delaying parts – if not all – of the second bailout for the ailing Greek economy. The finance ministers are dissatisfied with a perceived lack of Greek commitment to stick to an austerity program following the upcoming general elections. This means the 130 billion-euro package, without which Athens may default on its debt as soon as next month, may be withheld till the country forms its new parliament in April.
Reuters listed Germany, Finland and the Netherlands as the nations pressing to delay the package. Berlin had to refute allegations that it now views Athens' possible bankruptcy as acceptable.
Greece already faces major loan repayments in March. But as general elections loom near, the EU has had to change its tactics, says MEP Nigel Farage. Now the bloc wants to ensure it will have enough money to fulfill short term demands.
“What the EU is now doing is trying to influence the outcome of the Greek general election. It is now saying to the Greek people: ‘Unless you vote for the right parties, we will not give you the rest of the money and you will go bankrupt,'” Farage told RT.
“This is a kind of blackmailing game,” he added.
The effort was not lost on Greece. The country’s major conservative party, New Democracy, immediately sent a letter to ECB President Mario Draghi vowing to honor austerity policies after the poll.
Greece’s economy has been contracting for five years in a row; the annual rate of contraction grew to 7 percent in 2011. But when Nigel Farage asked German Chancellor Angela Merkel why the country cannot be allowed to leave the euro, default on its obligations and restore the economy, he received a “very telling response:”
“She said: ‘We cannot let Greece go, because if it does leave, there will be other countries that will want to leave too, and that will mean the end of the European project.’”
“So the reality here is that Greece is to be put to the sword and sacrificed, all in the name of preserving the European project. And this is a project that these politicians have been working on for over half a century. They don’t want to let it go – even if it's failing,” says Farage.
At the same time, the European Parliament is growing critical of the Greek austerity measures. The socialists and the greens, according to Farage, are saying the cuts “are damaging living standards to such an extent that they are now unacceptable.”