‘Greek referendum: sign of democracy in Greece’

Reuters / Alkis Konstantinidis
By taking part in the referendum Greeks are sending a strong signal to the world, not just that they are willing to make sacrifices, but they are standing up to the ‘bullying’ Troika, John Perkins, activist, economist and writer, told RT.

RT:What are the chances Greece will be able to hammer out a deal with its creditors soon?

John Perkins: I think there will definitely be a deal, there has to be a deal. The significance here is that Greece in a way has gained leverage by the significant vote for ‘No’. It puts Greece in more of a powerful position than they were in before.

RT:How come the eurozone can't come up with a single consensus when it comes to Greece?

JP: I think the eurozone is trying to play hard ball, they are digging in, they are acting very, very tough. This is the stance that Chancellor [Angela] Merkel has taken before, and I believe that has been their strategy - to really play hard ball, to try to scare the Greeks into accepting the deal. But the Greeks didn’t get scared, they didn’t blink.

RT:How can the eurozone help Greece without offending those countries who have been paying their debts and meeting demands?

JP: That’s a very good question, but other countries haven’t gone along with this either. Iceland is an example. Ecuador has done something similar with the IMF and the Word Bank; Argentina, Brazil. There is a history of countries standing up against debt that they don’t think is fair or they don’t think that the measures to try to rectify the debt is fair, and Greece is just the latest in a line of those, although, perhaps in some respects the most drastic, the most radical.

I think the other countries that haven’t done this ought to wish they had. I spoke out in Ireland, when Ireland was going through something similar, and strongly urged them to vote against paying off the debt. But they didn’t, they went ahead and paid off the debt and I think they are much worse off now. So we will have to see what happens.

RT:Eurozone finance ministers said today that debt relief for Greece wasn't up for discussion. So how can Athens repay its mountain of debt?

READ MORE: Greece asks for new 3yr loan – Bloomberg

JP: Things are going to have to be negotiated. The Europeans, the Troika is going to have to give, and that is what Greece is saying: “you have got to give.” I think the Greek leadership is saying; “We’re willing to give now, too.” After all, the finance minister resigned, because the troika wanted him to resign. They’ve made concessions and they’ve shown that they’re willing to make some concessions. It’s the eurozone, it’s the Troika that has not made the concessions, and I think they are going to have to start to do so.

RT:The Greeks got billions in bailout money from international creditors. Why didn't the money solve their problems?

JP: There has been a huge price that Greece has had to pay for that. And they had horrible unemployment rates, especially among young people; their economy has been in decline. So the conditions under which those loans were given were draconian, and had not resulted in Greece’s economy improving it, in fact, quite the contrary.

RT:What do you think about “No” vote in Greece? Is it significant?

JP: What is really significant about what Greece just did is that they did it in a very democratic way. So rather than the Greek leadership… just going forward and doing what they thought was right, they took it to a referendum. The foundations for democracy lie in Greece and they’ve really shown themselves to be extremely democratic in this process. They are sending an extremely strong signal to the world- not just that they are willing to stand up and make sacrifice, to stand up to those that are trying to bully them. But also that within their own country they’ve decided to take the democratic process; take this to the people, and a very significant number of people - over 60 per cent - voted to stand up to the Troika, to the EU. It’s extremely significant and sends a very, very strong signal to other countries that are being bullied through debt.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.