​‘Economically deluded’ Troika wants to punish Syriza – Green Party MP

Britain's Green Party MP Caroline Lucas (Reuters / Stefan Wermuth)
EU creditors and ministers are seeking to punish Greece’s leftist government for daring to challenge “economically deluded” and inhumane austerity policies, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas has said.

Addressing crowds gathered at a Greece solidarity rally in central London this week, Lucas said the deeply misguided policy prescriptions emerging from euro group meetings are designed to punish the Greek government.

The Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion told demonstrators gathered in Trafalgar Square austerity is both “socially destructive” and economically unsound.

“Greece’s government debt to GDP ratio hasn’t gone down as austerity was imposed, it has increased,” she said.

Lucas stressed EU ministers and international creditors are not interested in supporting the ordinary people of Greece.

Rather, they seek to humiliate and defeat “a government which has dared to stand up to the ideology of austerity,” she said.

Greece’s Syriza-led government seized power in early January on the back of a mandate to end austerity while remaining within the Eurozone. On Saturday, Athens requested a short extension of its bailout program.

Syriza suggested holding a referendum to consult the Greek people on the Troika’s latest round of economic demands.But the anti-austerity government’s proposal was rejected by the European Central Bank (ECB) and Eurozone ministers on Saturday.

Branding the outcome of Saturday’s emergency talks “a disgrace to Europe’s democratic traditions,” Tsipras said that Greeks' resolve to reject the Troika’s “unacceptable” ultimatums is strong.

The Troika’s leading negotiators Christine Lagarde of the IMF, Jean-Claude Juncker of the European Commission and Mario Draghi of the ECB are hopeful the referendum will backfire on the Greek government. However, Syriza remains defiant in the face of continuing pressure from international creditors and EU leaders.

As Greece’s debt stand-off with the Troika continues, it has become increasingly clear that the German government and Greece’s creditors are seeking to force a rapid regime change in Athens. The Greek government insists that a genuine compromise is not on the table.

Speaking on Greek television on Sunday night, Tsipras accused EU ministers and the ECB of attempting to blackmail the people of Greece and hinder Sunday’s referendum. He said that they would fail in both objectives.

Greece’s debt burden is the highest in Europe: a debt to GDP ratio of 177 percent.

The majority of the state’s deficit consists of interest payments. Left and right-of-center economists worldwide argue Athens’ debt burden is crushing its economy and is utterly unsustainable. Syriza is demanding the debt be restructured. Its calls are backed by the US government, MPs, campaigners and citizens across Europe.

But several Eurozone states, including Germany and Finland, are blocking debt relief for Athens.

The Greek government is calling on its people to vote No in Sunday’s referendum, a move that would signal a clear rejection of the Troika's most recent austerity diktats.

Former Green Party leader Lucas said the euro group’s response to Greece’s debt crisis has highlighted deep flaws within the European project.

“For me this is not the EU that I want to campaign to stay in next year. I will be campaigning to stay in the EU, but it will be a reformed EU, an EU of the people, an EU of solidarity,” she said.

“The EU that is doing this in our name is not the EU that we will be campaigning for. Together we’ll have to say what kind of EU we want.”

Monday’s solidarity protest in Trafalgar Square was organized by social justice groups Jubilee Debt Campaign, Global Justice Now, Greece Solidarity Campaign and War on Want. Each group has campaigned heavily on the Greek debt crisis, following six years of austerity peddled by international creditors and Europe’s technocratic elite.

Speaking ahead of the protest, Global Justice Now’s Nick Dearden said thousands of Europeans are demanding a debt write-down for Greece.

“The EU and the IMF seem to be hell-bent on ruthlessly punishing Greece for daring to stand up against grossly unfair debt conditions that are causing enormous amounts of suffering,” he told RT.

“This violent imposition of austerity in Greece will leave yet more blood on the hands of the EU’s financial class.”