“Greece avoided another financial crisis by paying about €500 million in wages to public sector workers, but suffered another downgrade of its credit rating,” The Guardian on May 16.
The payment came with Greece's SYRIZA-led government, that is seeking to break with austerity, locked in difficult talks with its creditors. Greece is seeking to release €7.2 billion in bailout funds to avoid a default and exit from the eurozone.
In a compromise to the demands of the “troika” of the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), it is being reported the SYRIZA government has agreed to push ahead with the privatisation of its biggest port, Piraeus.
The Guardian is in talks with China’s Cosco Group, which manages two container piers at the port, about selling a majority stake.
SYRIZA was elected in January on an anti-austerity platform that included blocking such privatisations. The troika's demands to continue such measures, backed by severe economic blackmail against the cash-strapped southern-European nation, is one example of how Europe's elites as seeking to destroy the Greek people's democratic will.
Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras said his country was “very close” to reaching a deal with creditors, but insisted, there was “no possibility” of giving in to key demands including further cuts to pensions and wages.
Tsipras said SYRIZA would continue pushing its goal of restructuring Greece's debt. He said: “I want to reassure the Greek people that there is no chance or possibility for the Greek government to retreat on the issue of wages and pensions. Wage earners and pensioners have suffered enough.”
Greece's finance minister Yanis Varoufakis vowed to reject any international bailout deal that did not help the country overcome its economic crisis, Morning Star Online said.
Varoufakis said that Greece must escape the “strictness trap” of austerity measures. He said if he signed such a deal, “I will be yet another finance minister who signs a mid-term fiscal adjustment programme that he knows will not work. And it can be proven mathematically that it doesn’t work.”
Greece paid US$750 million due to the IMF on May 11,
while the DBRS ratings agency downgraded Greece further into “junk” status.
On May 14, SYRIZA's political secretariat issued a statement on the difficult situation it faced. It is reprinted below from The Greek Analyst, which translated it from Greek.
Statement by the Political Secretariat of Syriza
From the first moment that this government was established, it became clear – both domestically, and abroad – that the mandate given by the Greek people is binding and comprises of a compass in the negotiations.
The red lines of the government are red lines of the Greek people, expressing the interests of the workers, self-employed, pensioners, farmers, and the youth. They expressed the need for the country to enter a new path of growth, with social justice and redistribution of wealth at its core.
The insistence of the lenders in implementing the Memorandum of Understanding program of the [the former right-wing] Samaras’s government, creating an asphyxiating stranglehold of political pressures and financial asphyxiation in the country, comes in direct contrast to the notion of democracy and popular sovereignty in Europe.
It expresses the obsessive fixation to austerity that deconstructs the welfare state, the oligarchic direction of European affairs in closed rooms that are unaffected by the will of the people, [and] which pave the way to the rise of the extreme right in Europe.
These requirements cannot be accepted. They cannot be accepted by the Greek people who fought all these past years in order to put an end to the criminal policies of the Memoranda. They cannot be accepted by the people of Europe and by the progressive societies and political powers, who fight for a Europe of solidarity and democracy.
The citizens of Greece and Europe are not passive consumers of 8 o’clock news, on the contrary, we believe that they can be co-stars in a negotiation that concerns the common fate of all of us, in the scale of Europe and the world.
SYRIZA will take any possible initiative to inform the Greek people, but also the European people.
In every city, in every neighbourhood and workplace, but also in all countries of Europe, the MPs, members of European parliament, and members of SYRIZA will come together with [other] members of SYRIZA and forces of solidarity [towards the party] in a wide mobilisation call for the win of democracy and of dignity.
Now is the time for the people themselves to enter the battle. We will win.