The Greek government said on April 17 that it was releasing detainees in its neglected immigration centers. “The people that were there, were living an indescribable barbarity,” said Greek immigration minister Tasia Christodoulopoulou. According to Christodoulopoulou, many of the detainees were illegally being held indefinitely.
There is a tense stand-off right now between Greece's government and the so-called troika — the European Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). ECB President Mario Draghi recently went so far as to deny that his institution was trying to blackmail Greece's left-wing anti-austerity government. But blackmail is actually an understatement. It has become increasingly clear that the troika is trying to harm the Greek economy in order to raise pressure on the new Greek government to agree to its demands.
The Greek parliament has debated a proposal to establish a committee to investigate loan agreements between previous governments and international lenders, TeleSUR English reported on March 31. The motion, tabled by ruling anti-austerity party SYRIZA, would examine credit accords dating back to 2009 with organisations including the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the European Central Bank.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on April 2 that his government would strengthen the country's public health system by the hiring of 4500 extra staff and abolishing a compulsory €5 fee for treatment at public hospitals, TeleSUR English said that day. The measure forms part of a broad package of reforms aimed at overhauling the country’s broken medical system by providing universal access to quality healthcare.
Greece demands Germany pay war reparations Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias has proposed creating a joint commission of Greek and German experts to address the issue of World War II reparations, TeleSUR English said on March 23. “Athens wants to come to an agreement regarding the issue of reparations, we need to find a common denominator,” Kotzias said. The foreign minister added that he prefers a political solution to the issue, rather than a legal one.
More than 4000 local and global groups from 120 countries took part in the 14th World Social Forum in Tunisia from March 24 to 28. The WSF was created as a popular alternative to the corporate-dominated, elite World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos. The first WSF was held in Brazil in 2001 and was organised as an alternative to the WEF, the yearly meeting of the global ultra-rich.
Venezuela has proposed trade and economic agreements that would make Athens one of Caracas' main trading partners, TeleSUR English said on March 7. The proposal came as Venezuela and Greece solidified their partnership when Venezuelan officials visited the European country to meet the new SYRIZA government. Venezuela's foreign minister Delcy Rodriguez met new Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on March 6. The two parties discussed furthering cooperation agreements, particularly in technology, industry, trade, shipping, energy, commerce and tourism.
Greece’s parliament passed what it called a “humanitarian crisis” bill on March 18 in order to help the poorest sectors of its population. In a move opposed by representatives from the European Union, the government of left-wing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras pushed for housing allowances and emergency food aid to people in need.
The parliamentary speaker in Greece's Chamber of Deputies Zoe Constantopoulou announced on March 17 the formation of a committee to audit the country’s public debt, Ekathimerini.com said that day. Greek Member of the European Parliament Sofia Sakorafa and Belgian political scientist, public debt expert and spokesperson for the Committee to Abolish Third World Debt (CADTM) Eric Toussaint will be on the new committee.
I visited Athens recently as part of a solidarity delegation from the British party Left Unity. On January 25, the day before radical left party SYRIZA’s election victory, two of us were fortunate enough to take part in a tour of some of the self-organising structures in Athens supported by the Solidarity for All network.
Experience proves that left-wing movements can win government, but nevertheless not hold power. Democracy, in other words the exercise of power by the people and for the people, requires much more. The problem is now being faced in Greece with with radical left party SYRIZA, which won elections in January. It will have to be faced in Spain if the new anti-austerity party Podemos wins November elections.
What does the victory of radical left party SYRIZA in Greece's January 25 elections mean for politics in Europe, at Europe-wide and national levels? Both levels are closely intertwined, and since SYRIZA’s win have been having rapid feedback effects on each another. Across Europe, the reverberations of SYRIZA’s win are being felt with rising force, both in “peripheral” Europe, but also in the German-led European Union “core”.
Support for the Greek government headed by radical left party SYRIZA is growing, new polls show. The polls also found high support for SYRIZA's negotiations with its creditors, which secured a deal to extend its loans package by four months. The deal came with significant concessions to the institutions that have imposed austerity on Greece, which led to strong criticisms from SYRIZA's Left Platform, which believes the party should either prepare for, or at least consider, leaving the eurozone and returning to the drachma.
He is an economist, academic, poet, blogger, video game consultant, libertarian Marxist, motorbike rider and accidental fashion icon. Now he’s the holder of possibly the most difficult job in the world: Greece’s finance minister. Meet Yanis Varoufakis, SYRIZA Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s right hand man and the key negotiator between Greece and its creditors. In downtown Athens, Varoufakis is well liked among the public. He is the definitive cosmopolitan, self-made man who sees himself as a citizen of Europe as much as Greece.
In Greece's January 25 elections, 388,000 people voted for the fascist, neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn. The election was largely fought as a contest of hope and solidarity against fear and austerity. Radical left party SYRIZA defeated right-wing establishment party New Democracy. SYRIZA placed first in the popular vote with 36% of votes, but the openly fascist party Golden Dawn took third place in the poll with 6.3%. This is significant for three reasons:
If history is any guide, it is reasonable to assume that Greece’s recently-elected left-wing SYRIZA government will be subjected to a foreign-backed destabilisation campaign and possible attempts to install a new right-wing authoritarian regime. There is a long history in Greece of the left being suppressed by the oligarchy collaborating with outside forces.