Published time: February 16, 2015 11:59
Public support for Greece across Europe is predictable as other countries are suffering just as much, says Leonidas Chrysanthopoulos, a former Greek ambassador. It’s a message to EU leaders who have been distant from people they are supposed to serve.
RT: Are you surprised by the show of public support for Greece in many parts of Europe?
Leonidas Chrysanthopoulos: No, it was expected actually, because the other countries are suffering just as bad as we are particularly Portugal and Spain. So once we started this, let’s put it ‘revolution,’ and we are waking up the European people, it caught like wildfire. So this is a good solid support of the European people and I hope that this message is getting across to the leaders of the EU who have been far away from the people who they are supposed to serve all these years.
RT: Do you see a growing disconnect between Brussels-led austerity policies, and public opinion in EU nations?
LC:…It is their interest that is at stake, because if they continue this intransigence and this hard-line, then Greece can also play hard-line and we would just refuse to cooperate. And this of course might lead to a possible departure of Greece from the eurozone with all the negative consequences that it will have for Europe more than it would have for Greece. For Greece it will have in the long-term beneficial results.
RT: Are you optimistic that a compromise can be reached at Monday’s meeting?
LC: I don’t think there are many chances for a compromise. What I presume might come out of the meeting is a sort of a text that nobody understands that will satisfy the EU, but might have no practical results because the Greek government is no way going back on what it promised to the Greek people. And I read in today’s newspapers for example that most of the measures that have been taken by the previous regime are now being changed. For example, a draft law is going to [be passed] in the Parliament next week for the 13th [month-Ed.] salary for the pensioners. Also there is going to be 12,000 euro [annual salary- Ed.]for tax that will be included as a tax limit. And also the extreme tax that was put on property is going to be abolished also.
RT: If Greece does not receive the bridge loan it is asking for – what are the alternatives for the government?
LC: Essentially what will happen…is there will be a denunciation on the basis of international law of the loan agreement. And if you denounce the loan agreement, not unilaterally, on the basis of international law, [the Vienna Convention on the law of treaties], which in the articles 48 to 51 4: 50 anticipated cases where international agreement is null and void. You do that, you keep the €26 billion that they are asking and if you continue your recovery that way plus you nationalize the Bank of Greece then also you have funds. So this will get us through the year, this is one way of financing ourselves during that interim period if it goes as bad as that.
Political not financial consequences scare EU
Pro-government protesters in Athens’ Syntagma Square ahead of the eurozone finance ministers’ meeting in Brussels demanded that no more concessions are made, noted Aris Chatzistefanou, a journalist and filmmaker.
“The same message that PM Mr. Tsipras had Friday night when there was an emergency Cabinet meeting with many left-wing ministers saying that we have already made enough concessions in these negotiations and we should keep to our positions otherwise it will be seen as a total betrayal of what we said to the electorate before the election. When they talk about concessions, it’s mainly three things: that they don’t talk any more about cancelling the debt which was one of the promises that this party made to the electorate. The second is they have agreed to accept 70 percent of the memorandum that is the austerity package imposed in Greece by the IMF and ECB and the European Commission. And the third is that we should have a primary surplus. That practically means a kind of continuation of austerity…”
“…This year only we have to repay something around €22 billion and almost €6-7 billion of this amount is the interest that we have to repay. So by making at least a memorandum in repaying the debt there is enough money to keep the economy staying alive for a few more months until the solution is found.Don’t forget that the same policy was applied even in Russia, in Argentina, Iceland, Ecuador and there was always a positive outcome for the economy. On the other hand, don’t forget that apart from the Western financial centers that are threatening Greece with stopping the liquidity of the banking sector there are some other financial centers that can be trusted,”Chatzistefanou said.
The main concern for Berlin now, he observed, is the political consequences of the Greek bailout talks in Brussels.
“There might be a domino effect if people in other European countries realize that this austerity imposed by Brussels and Berlin is not the only way out of the crisis… I think this is a big problem for Berlin at the moment. They are not afraid of the financial consequences. Don’t forget that Greece is a very small economy, 2 percent of the eurozone. They are afraid of the political consequences,” Chatzistefanou told RT.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.