Published on 12 Jul 2015

Greece crisis: Europe turns the screw

The Greeks arrived with a set of proposals widely scorned as “more austere than the ones they rejected”. The internet burst forth with catcalls – “they’ve caved in”.

By doing so, however, the Greeks last night revealed the true dysfunctionality of the system they are trying to stay inside.

First, Germany put forward a proposal one could best describe as “back of envelope” for Greece to leave the Eurozone for five years. There is logic to it – because Germany was signalling that only outside the Eurozone could Greece’s debts be written off.

But for the most powerful Eurozone nation to arrive with an unspecified, two-paragraph “suggestion” at this stage explains why the Italians, according to the Guardian, are about to blast them with both barrels for lack of leadership.

Prime Minister Tsipras Meets With Chancellor Merkel In Berlin

Then came the Finns. Their government is a coalition of centre right parties and the right-wing populist Finns Party. The latter threatened to collapse the new governing coalition if the Finns take part in a new bailout for Greece.

The demand is now that the Greeks pass all the laws they signed up to in advance of any new bailout deal. This is backed up by a threat to keep the Greek banks starved of liquidity from the ECB for another week.

‘Political chaos’

In Greece large numbers of people – on all sides of politics – believe the Europeans are trying to force the elected government to resign before a deal is concluded. If so there will be political chaos.

Syriza’s poll rating is currently 38 per cent and rising. Without a “moderate” split from Syriza the centrist parties have no chance of forming a new government, and without Tsipras’ tacit consent there can be no interim government of unelected technocrats.

On Friday I reported, on the basis of intelligence being supplied to large corporations, that the key supply concerns are gas – because of the need for forward contracts – disposables in the healthcare system, and meat imports.

The screw Europe is turning on its own supposed member state now begins to resemble a sanctions regime. Without more liquidity the banks will run out of money some time this week.

To be clear, it is the Europe that is in charge of the Greek banking system, not Greece. Yet after last night what many in Greece and elsewhere see is that Europe has no single understanding of what it’s trying to achieve through this enforced destruction of a modern economy.

Follow @paulmasonnews on Twitter.

Tweets by @paulmasonnews

82 reader comments

  1. Simon Hunter says:

    Paul Mason has become a mouthpiece of the Greek government. It’s sad to see – Paul your job is to explain both sides of a very complex argument. The Northern Europeans and the Eastern Europeans have a case too. The Finns for example might loose nearly 10% of their total government expenditure if the bailout to Greece goes wrong. Of course every decent person is moved by the plight of the Greek people BUT there are many poorer nations in the world who would only dream of this type of help. There are also many poorer nations in Europe too! Why does Paul Mason never ever report on these?http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/09/poorer-than-greece-the-eu-countries-that-reject-a-new-athens-bailout
    Also his consistent Greece vrs Germany tone is disgusting and also not correct – many nations have to justify to their electorates why they will have to bail out Greece for a THIRD time with their tax payers money. What about the poor tax payer in Slovakia ? Where is Mr Masons report from that country ? Shall we not have a referendum there ? That would be truly democratic ?
    What ever your views on this very complex matter it is CH4 news job to report ALL sides and let the public make up its own mind. If Paul Mason wants to take on a job as a spokesman for Syriza that’s fine but please not at the same time he reports for a PUBLIC SERVICE broadcaster.

    1. M.lazarow says:

      It would do well to notice that the workers and general population of most countries demonstrated for and supported the OXI decision of the Greek people. Many more are becoming aware that very few benefit from austerity and the divide has widened so greatly that the richest 80 people own more than the poorest 3.5billion. Governments, even Syriza, generally tend to govern for those in this bracket who wield economic power, and care very little for the deprivation and cruelty of austerity. More and more are realising that internationally this unfair distribution of wealth and power has to end.The temporary band of Europeanunion, can’t do anything for the poor or workers of any of its member countries.

      1. Hayden Scott says:

        Then let those workers and their countries put their money where you say their mouth is. (It is very easy to be forthright about what other people should do with their money.)

    2. Ed says:

      You would prefer a spokesman for the Troika I presume, which is the role being performed by all the other journalists (including those of
      the ‘public service’ BBC). You feel aggrieved at the fact that Mason is not reporting on the story in a way that peddles the Troika line and does not attempt to conceal reality on their behalf.

      1. LLXCrete says:

        I assume you’re referring to Simon Hunter’s post…
        He does not say he wants anti-Syriza reportage, he merely says that there is more than one side to a story and a good journalist should cover ALL aspects, not just those that suit the reporter’s own political agenda.

    3. Mark Powell says:

      Good points well made. Mason and his Twitterclaque are becoming a tad irksome.

    4. Sally says:

      Simon Humter has become a mouth piece for the corrup banking sytem and the scum bags who enrich themselves at the poors expense. Sad to see.

      Mr Hunter has no idea of the concept of fiat currency’s and the debt ratios that are being run up by Western govts. America is now 18 – 20 trillion in debt. How will they pay off their debts? The Uks national debt climbs daily despite what Osbourne would tell you. How will the UK pay its debts?

      And why should a country not be allowed to default on its debts when banks and rich people default all the time? We are watching the greatest transfer of wealth from poor to rich in my life time. It’s a shame the Mr Hunters of this world are too clueless to understand basic economics. Quantitive easing is a give away to the richest in the world at the expense of everybody else. Free money for the rich. No doubt he will probably support Donald Trump for President. A man who has been declared bankrupt 3 times.

      Greece tried to sell their gas rights to the highest bidder witch was Gazpon of Russia. But the corrupt US and British govts intervened to stop that. Only allowing Greece to sell to the wests corrupt chums. All too much for the spoon fed Mr Hunter to understand.

      The Greeks can’t pay their debts, they never will be able to pay off their debts. Neither will Spain or Italy or even France. Neither will the U.S. of the UK. A debt reset is coming, whether the elites and the clueless Simon Hunters like it or not. Otherwise the entire world will be completely impoverished.

      1. yaaboo says:

        brilliant Sally, thank you

    5. Mike Arne says:

      Thank God we have brave reporters like Paul Mason – if you really want to see biased reporting you should watch the likes of Rolf-Dieter Krause, the ARD (kind of German equivalent of BBC) correspondent in Brussels who is rabidly anti-Syriza, and makes no attempt to hide his bias in favour of the limousine elite in Brussels, mainly because him and his ilk dont want their cushy expenses paid lifestyles disrupted by a democratically elected government who have a different vision of what the future of Europe should look like. Paul Mason gives voice to this reality in an utterly professional manner, and is THE outstanding reporter on the ground in Greece as far as I am concerned.

    6. Chris Davison says:

      Paul has unique access to the Greek leadership because he has been willing to put a side of the story that no other news agency in Europe seems to want to.

      Instead of having a go at Paul, why not have a go at the BBC for only putting one side forward?

      1. LLXCrete says:

        And I wonder how much in royalties Paul Mason will receive from Varoufakis’ (ex Financial Minister) new book that’s to be released imminently – considering how he wrote the prologue to it! Paul Mason is, as accused, a Syriza mouthpiece.
        Before I’m castigated as a “nazi collaborator” (isn’t that Paul’s Twitter phrase of choice for anyone disagreeing with him/Syriza?), let met just say my politics are and always have been left – what I object to is impartiality in ANY journalist. Just tell us the news.

    7. Ed McKeon says:

      If you want the mainstream view, then you can go anywhere else in the UK media. Paul Mason is on a limb because the rest of the media has given up on its responsibility.

      The Greeks are not asking for a blank cheque. They’re asking for the same structural reforms that the IMF (and many of the world’s leading economists) is insisting on so that they can create an economy that can pay the creditors back. This isn’t a case of a race to the bottom, of others who deserve more sympathy. If the ‘small tax payer in Slovakia’ wants her money back, then the Greek plan is the one that might work.

      Secondly, the reforms proposed by the Greeks are considerably to the right and more austere than the government’s own supporters and even the majority of its population.

      So let’s get rid of the ‘good guy / bad guy’ narrative and deal with the complexities of the issues at stake. Paul Mason seems to be one of the few journalists treating us as adults, rather than with contempt.

    8. Mike Carver says:

      You seem to have a problem with facts.

    9. Kathleen Smith says:

      It is not taking a side when you are telling what is happening, good God – what do you think that to be an unbiased reporter that you can’t say one side is screwing the other side. Paul Mason is right when he says that Germany is destroying Greece. And if you don’t understand how Greek got into the Eurozone in the first place (which it legally should never have been allowed) and why the bail outs will never work (if you own me $10 and you have no money and I ruin your ability to grow economically by demanding you cut costs – then when it is time to pay me back -GUESS WHAT? You can’t – so what do I do I lend you more money to pay me back the money I originally lent you – and now you owe me even more money. It is what is called a vicious circle that you can’t escape from.. Tell all sides? – that is the story knuckle head , what don’t you get? FYI – Germany was in the same position as Greece and you know what – 50% of their debts were written off, but of course Germany refuses to help others the way it was helped. This is all going to lead to WWIII.

    10. Nick Zafiropoulos says:

      Simon would you take out a loan that realistically you would never be able to pay off?

    11. John Ackers says:

      @Simon Hunter I completely disagree. It’s really helpful to read an unashamedly pro Greece perspective and I doubt if CH4 news journalists writing personal blogs need to meet public service broadcast rules.

    12. Logan says:

      “Many nations have to justify to their electorates why they will have to bail out Greece for a THIRD time with their tax payers money.”

      They should look to the politicians who knew in 2010 that the treatment wasn’t curing the patient, but insisted upon continuing anyhow.

    13. Dave Hansell says:

      It would be useful if people appraised themselves of the facts of an issue before commenting.

      The German, Slovak, Finnish or whoever taxpayer is not bailing out the people of Greece. They are bailing out the debt of private banks who have already been paid out by their own Governments and the debt transferred to the poorest section of the Greek population. To reluctantly give the Germans et al their due the British, when bailing out the foreign debt of their own banks have chosen to make their own population pay the tab, whereas the euro zone cartel have chosen to screw another population.

      A population you need to accept and acknowledge never saw the money simply because those are the facts. Why else do you think the euro zone gangsters and financial terrorists have rejected any proposal by the Greeks to go after the taxes of the Greek elites who put the country in this position in the first place?

      It would also be useful to explore the question as to why in 2010 the Troika went after Greece when they only owed 360 odd billion when Ireland owed 800 billion and Italy and Spain a trillion each?

      I am afraid the one sidedness is all on your part rather than Paul Mason’s all nd Channel 4.

    14. Jayne says:

      “The Finns for example might loose nearly 10%” – when you said ‘loose’ instead of ‘lose’ your comment lost all credibility for me!

      1. LLXCrete says:

        So, you never make spelling mistakes… Get over yourself!

    15. Maria Papadaki says:

      Who do you think you are? How can you not even see that this is all a fiasco and the EU never wanted to bailout Greece in order to offer help to the country rather than gain from it’s negative situation? And how can you not even see what they are trying to do now which is destroy Greece. But of course when your future is secure why would you see clearly instead of blaming the Greeks? Karma will hit you all in the face eventually. Plus the Greek sun will never go down so you can stick to your cold miserable countries. Haha!

      1. LLXCrete says:

        And with that childish outburst, Maria, we have no need to wonder why Greece is in the state it is.

    16. John Tsikis says:

      Yes, what about Slovakia? How much will their contribution to the bailout be so they have to be constantly brought up?
      Or is this all about the neighbor’s goat? (http://www.peacecorpswriters.org/pages/2003/0309/309pcvrom.html)

    17. Eddie says:

      Quite right. Mr Mason’s point of view is clearly biased in favour of the Greek Government. Quite appallingly so.

    18. Alan Lawes says:

      But Simon it is Greece V Germany Paul is spot on. This whole thing is all about Germany’s domination of the whole of Europe for its own benefit.
      What happened in Greece also happened in Ireland. Foreign privately owned banks one of the biggest being Deutsche Bank had a gamble and lent to Ireland and Greece.
      They lost their bets but us tax paying mugs picked up the tab, with their private bets being socialised.
      So which country came out best? Yes you guessed it Germany

    19. Geoffrey says:

      On the contrary. I turn to Paul for an explanation and interpretation of the different Greek perspectives on this crisis. His reports have been invaluable, down-to-earth, cutting though a lot of the rhetoric. He’s not reporting from Finland, he’s reporting from Athens. If we can’t have reporters on the ground who give us the view from the ground, then we’ll end up with some anodyne Wikipedia-like account. Ask the Finnish correspondent for the view from Finland, please, not Paul.

    20. KouKou says:

      The logic behind your argument towards poorer countries or the “Greek people BUT there are many poorer nations in the world who would only dream of this type of help – ” Is covered by the monty python’s The life of Brian : The dungeon scene.
      “You lucky b@..rd” “Proper jailers pet are we” .. “Crusifiction ”

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8EI7p2p1QJI

      My friend you also lack and understanding what the “bailouts” have achieved.

    21. Iain Scott says:

      Your unfortunate comments neatly summarise the two approaches. The first U.S. Is pay up and be punished the second is recognise this is a political , moral and financial problem .
      Greececis not in an isolation ward and being punished will not help create a prosperous economy. The key thing is to allow Greece to flourish not to do a Versailles on it.
      Go read David Reynolds The Long Shadow if you want to understand what this could lead too.

    22. Lunarcy says:

      Your comments are foolish. And that’s being kind.

    23. LLXCrete says:

      Well said, Simon! I could not have put it better.

    24. Sam Says says:

      Romania etc has as much if not more corruption and lack of opportunities for anyone not part of the political elite.

      Taking it out on Greece does not alter fundamental flaws in Europe which benefit the rich, punish the poor causing greater gap between the rich and the poor.

    25. Tommy Carroll says:

      Simon Hunter: You are separating the several issues that should be joined up. You criticise Greece for being more desperate than nations who are themselves in various stages of meltdown. Your letter is long. Tommy Carroll

  2. George Maglaras says:

    “Syriza’s poll rating is currently 38 per cent and rising”…you just lost all credibility you had in my eyes with this statement…

    1. Chris Davison says:

      They just had 61% backing in a referendum

    2. Mike Carver says:

      You also seem to have a problem with facts. Read Varifakis’ article on the Guardian website to see that Schauble has along been aiming to get Grexit.

    3. Dave Hansell says:

      Would it be too much to ask for the principles established by The Enlightenment to be applied by providing substantiating counter evidence rather than taking a position of this is my conclusion and it is so because I say it is so?

    4. Richard Grassick says:

      Not at all, Simon. If the economic evidence suggests that the neoliberals are talking bullshit, then say it Paul.

      Your comment about Greece v Germany – well you just extended it by suggesting the “poor taxpayers” in Slovakia were the direct victims of the bailouts. They are not. They receive interest on loans. Do you think the neoliberal offer is charity??? It’s a punt on the money markets like any other “investment”. The trouble is, the conditions being laid down have nothing to do with an ability to repay the original capital, but with ensuring endless dependence.

      This is the first Greek gvt that has NOT been complicit in this shoddy economics. It should be given the chance to set its country on a (shock horror, how radical) keynesian road to recovery. You know, like Germany did in 1953 thanks to the agreement of a number of countries, including Greece.

  3. Nic says:

    Embedded in the new EU requirements:

    “develop a significantly scaled up privatization program with improved governance. A working group with the institutions shall provide proposals for better implementation mechanisms;”

    It’s all about this. The 1% want every asset they can lay their hands on (at foreclosure prices) until they own the air you breathe.

    1. Tim says:

      I think you’re being unfair. Privitisation is proven to be a fast way of reform. It brings in investment, international best practice in management and it smashes restrictive , growth destroying work practices. It’s vital that the Greek economy becomes more productive or they will remain serfs and unemployed . The do-nothing alternative has been tried. The medicine is harsh but we know it works. Anyway, it is the greeks who put themselves here. Seeing the long list of things they didn’t do quite removed my sympathy, and not only did they break promises, they made bad choices. The Greek economy needs growth. Growth needs reform. Reform means change. It’s funny how people complain about a coup. The Greeks know what a coup really is. It’s when the people with guns take over. That was another option for Greece.

  4. Boffy says:

    Paul,

    I watched your recent reports about the situation in respect of individuals and companies with interest. They give me a few questions.

    I was interested that you say that actually for individuals there is for many no shortage of currency (notes and coins) because they’ve been taking cash out of banks for some time, and have it stashed under the mattress. That seems to be the case given that people continue to spend that cash. It should, thereby, circulate back into the banks ready to be withdrawn again.

    The €60 limit per day seems quite generous to me in terms of currency, especially as many Greeks do not have that much in income let alone cash. But, also to take money from an ATM you need a debit or credit card, so why not pay for things with the card rather than cash?

    I understand that businesses in a credit crunch demand cash, but surely this is where the government comes in and where community and mutual organisations come in to say we will accept payment by card.

    In the same report you said, that businesses cannot pay with money from under the mattress. But, I would have thought that it is precisely such commercial transactions that would normally be conducted by direct electronic transfers. Surely a supplier would be happier to have money transferred immediately and directly by electronic transfer than by cash.

    So, the question once more comes back to not whether there is a shortage of currency in notes and coins which the ECB is restricting, but on whether there are actual funds in accounts.

    It looks to me like Syriza should prepare to transfer banks bad debts to a bad bank that it lets go, so that all of its European creditors then take the hit, whilst transferring what is left of the rest of the banks to their workers to run as a co-operative bank.

    There is as much private debt in Greece as sovereign debt – around €360 billion. Unlike the sovereign debt, most of this debt will be held by other banks and private institutions across Europe. If the greek banks go bust, so will that private debt. When all that defaults, then perhaps the other northern European countries might decide to get serious about finding a solution that is not about trying to force further austerity and regime change on the Greeks.

    The fault will then clearly lie for the chaos with the various conservative forces that have created the current mess due to austerity.

  5. Simon says:

    Becoming increasingly apparent that there is no Eurozone, there is a “every man for himself when the …… hits the fan zone”

    Which reminds me of one of the older debates before this latest manifestation of a fundamentally flawed system arose.

    Some prophetic somebody when the Eurozone was being set up said ” you can’t have financial Union without political union you idiots” ( I added the idiots part)

    Noting some earlier comments on here, personally I feel sorry for everyone when we are being run by idiots, north, South East or west will all suffer in different ways what ever they do.

    Idiots.

  6. Mia gynaika says:

    Absolutely right. Greek proverb: the village is on fire and the priest is combing his beard/ prostitute is combing her hair. Not only the people of Greece but the many others landing desperate on her shores are suffering because men in suits are combing away. Their real fear, of course, the political rather than economic one, is that the idea that a nation might just not agree with what their leaders get up to in Brussles, as many did not over the constitution( but the powers that be got round it that time), might spread and people all over Europe feel just a bit empowered by what the Greeks have done, voted against things not In their interest.

  7. john venetos says:

    Very sad to see how Greece and the political leaders allowed themselves to become entangled in this web of debt!!! Nothing is free, the children of Greece will be paying for this FOR GENERATIONS, unfortunately I see the only chance to improve their future is to leave the Euro, bankrupt the country, write off all the Debt and start new…..It will be hard in the beginning…. implement across the board A LOW FLAT TAX OF 10% tax and VAT 10-15%, AND TRULY COLLECT THE TAX!!!
    THIS IS YOUR ONLY SOLUTION, DO NOT LET OTHER COUNTRIES ROB YOUR PRECIOUS LAND AND ISLANDS… GREECE IS NOT FOR SALE!!!!!!

  8. Dave Timoney says:

    The so-called Greek crisis has little to do with dysfunction in Greece (whether historic failings or contemporary tactics), and everything to do with dysfunction in the eurozone. This was confirmed by the decision of the ECB two weeks ago to effectively undermine Greek banks and by extension the government. The indulgence of the Greeks relative to Finland or Slovakia is irrelevant. What we are witnessing is Europe turning on itself: the autoimmune disorder of the euro.

  9. Brendan O'Rourke says:

    Paul Mason’s points are indeed laughable. Of course there are many states whose peoples are deserving of support – doh! The current difference with the situation in Greece rests on democracy – people in Greece VOTED for a government of the left. People elsewhere did not.

    As to the accusation that Paul Mason is framing this as Greece versus Germany – I’m sorry, I didn’t read that article? The ones with which I’m familiar concern the vast majority of Europeans against a minority of elites and bankers. Syriza’s election was a victory for the vast majority of Europeans. May they still win.

    1. LLXCrete says:

      You didn’t know it was Greece v. Germany? Well, see Paul’s Tweets for enlightenment…

  10. Brendan O'Rourke says:

    Simon Hunter’s points are indeed laughable. Of course there are many states whose peoples are deserving of support – doh! The current difference with the situation in Greece rests on democracy – people in Greece VOTED for a government of the left. People elsewhere did not.

    As to the accusation that Paul Mason is framing this as Greece versus Germany – I’m sorry, I didn’t read that article? The ones with which I’m familiar concern the vast majority of Europeans against a minority of elites and bankers. Syriza’s election was a victory for the vast majority of Europeans. May they still win.

  11. Kae Smith says:

    Ignore the fools commenting elsewhere Paul, your reports have been superb and very well balanced. I think they’re just upset because they’d like you to be more openly right wing and it’s pathetic.

  12. Clive Hisparis says:

    Mr. Hunter, your argument about the Finns and Slovaks proves the point why the EU in it’s current condition is a sham that needs to be abolished or totally overhauled, it’s insane that a bunch of politicians in uber-wealthy Finland with all their safety nets would recognize the suffering of growing percentage of Greeks, as it stands the EU is a finance-alliance set out to do pure business, thus it’s stupid to bring democractic and negotiational processes into the picture at the moment, the market should rule and all this make believe Non-Sense about Europe this and Europe that should be laughed at, it should be the market says this and the market says that without the fig-leaf of Euro-pride and shared history rubbish, secondly let us please not forget that although corrupt business people and politicians are the cause of the series of events that led to this dismal state of affairs in Greece, that corruption was backed and furthered by the same banks and financial institutions that Mr. Merkel and the Finns and whoever else rode the bandwagon, this is no less than a Ponzi scheme and we have all been had, look at the bailouts for the Deutsche Bank, why where they never crucified and put at the altar of Europe, if the EU was fair Mr. Hunter your argument would have made sense but because the EU is absolute hypocrisy it doesn’t.

  13. Izzie says:

    Thanks for another clear, informative and insightful report.

    I do think that the Greek government overlooked or failed to properly anticipate the difficulty other European governments would have with helping Greece out. This was evident in Paul’s extended interview with Varoufakis just before the referendum. When challenged about the democracies of other eastern/northern countries who also would have to get a deal through their parliaments, I don’t remember Varoufakis having a proper answer other than to say it would be wrong to presume on their views.

    I also agree, it’s clear – really clear – that the Syriza government has surrendered much of what it was mandated to do, but everyone can see the pressure they’re under because it’s being played out so publicly. The effect of this flurry of leaks and texts (and parroting of ‘trust’ issues) is that it becomes easy to argue that the blame lies in Brussels.

    I really don’t understand Schauble. How come the rules are paramount, inviolable, but only up to the point when he decides to make up new ones?

    Many feared that confronted with the well-heeled professional politicians in Europe Syriza would perform like amateurs. Who knew that the real amateurs were already in situ? They’re not even very good at being evil. The most likely result of trying to humiliate an elected government is surely to bolster its support at home. Isn’t that just human nature? And, while they’re trying to make the Eurozone intolerable for Greece, the aftershock is taking out its support elsewhere in the continent. Diehard Europhiles are reevaluating and reversing once trenchant beliefs. This weekend is a mess.

    It would be funny to watch if it wasn’t for the siege.

  14. John Page says:

    Great reporting Paul.

  15. Buck Eldorado says:

    The people of Greece are for once getting what they deserve. Having lied their way into the EU they are now trying to lie their way out. Why should the decent people of Europe, who didn’t falsify their budget figures and who pay their taxes, have to underwrite the laziness, corruption and tax evasion of these Hellenic con artists? Not only should Greece be kicked out of the EU, but it should also be disconnected from the SWIFT payment system to stop Greek economic contagion from infecting the free world. Let Putin take Greece if he wants it. Greece can be Russia’s problem for the next thousand years. We’ve paid our dues…

    1. Dave Hansell says:

      What we have here is what Churchill once called a terminological inexatitude. I.e a statement which is an out and out falsehood made in the knowledge that is such.

      The Greek people did not lie their way into the euro. This was done by a banking supported tax dodging Greek elite using Gold man Sacha to fiddle the figures. Only a hermit would not know this fact.

      So tell us Mr Berneys, how come the the people of Spain, Italy and Ireland who owe way more than Greece not deserve the same thing?

      How come it’s OK to transfer the odious private sector debt of German and European banks whose Countries benefited from debt forgiveness in the past onto the public sector?

      What’s it like taking a position of defending socialism for the rich in order to spitefuly pauperise an entire population?

      You should seek medical help for your condition.

    2. LLXCrete says:

      I suppose included with the “decent people of Europe” are the Germans, who within living memory exterminated 11 million people – and still had their debts written off. Obviously, in your book mismanagement of finances deserves a much harsher punishment than murder!

  16. Jesse Rodriguez says:

    The public humiliation of Greece is all well earned. However, crushing a people through severe austerity or worse without an opportunity for redemption is brutal and shames all of us. Punishment without a clear path to corrective economical stature is worthy of a currency collapse revealing in-fighting without a mature approach to global trade collaboration. For once I agree with the French response in a most civilized, if not sympathetic stance toward the people of Greece. Unfortunately, nothing revealed today is likely to give Greece a real chance at solvency and or self-governance. Where are the tools for the people of Greece to heal themselves? Privatized free trade credits toward debt relief can give this nation the choice to improve their situation. Transparency in public sector campaigns that benefit all of europes stability should be encouraged and rewarded in turn. Advancing and promoting technology economies of scale must be infused giving the country a chance at some prosperity. When? Now, by standing together united in resolve.

  17. Aaron saxton says:

    It’s not a proposal, it’s a shopping list from Greece on what they can do.

    If the Greeks really thought these steps would improve their economy then they would legislate it but will not until they get billions more.

    You need billions before you pass comprehensive tax reform? You need to be paid to restructure how you spend and to weed out corruption?

    Perhaps you’d better view the Greek proposal for what it is, a list of vague promises by a bunch of people who even with zero debt are incapable of building their gdp because they are incompetent.

    Lastly, the PMs words and statements were so harsh in the referendum there can be no doubt it is ideology he has and not economic ideas. Terrorists, the list of words goes on that he used to describe Europe.

    He and his government can not be trusted, and even if they could they are incompetent with a debt write off – they would screw that up too.

    You really trust this PM with greeces future? I would not trust him to run a mid sized company let alone a country.

  18. Andreas Michaelides says:

    Paul Mason is the only respectable journalist that analyses the draconian demands that the European money lenders are trying to impose on the Greek people. All the other journalists that I have followed in this crisis are the mouthpiece of the money lenders including German banks that are at least as responsible for the crisis the Greek people are in now. Example about the current German solution: When Varoufakis came with the first proposals all such journalists echoed the dismissive voice of the leader of the pack, Germany. When Paul Mason reports on the latest two paragraph German solution, he is called the mouthpiece of Tsipras. What double standards one has to respond to. Just remember how Germanny’s debt was “sorted out” in 1953, and don’t tell the world that that was different.

  19. Dimitra Stevens says:

    Simon Hunter, you know absolutely nothing.
    Or perhaps I am wrong, you must know something as I can imagine that you are probably the mouthpiece of one of the opposition parties.
    Paul Mason, you will always get negative feedback, but please don’t take any notice, just keep reporting the facts as you are doing.
    I regularly go onto your twitter account to see what’s going on, as do most people.
    You are doing a fantastic job.

  20. isabella curtis says:

    Since when was Greece a modern economy?…!!

  21. Finns Party supporter says:

    Let me be blunt, the problem with Greece are the Greeks. Not every Greek of course, that goes without saying, but it wasn’t just the corrupt politicians and poor leadership or Central European banks, or the political-idealistic but economically dysfunctional europroject doomed to fail or Northern European nationalist parties that failed the “innocent” ordinary greeks and caused their economic misery.

    It were ordinary greeks that had the most generous pension schemes, all sorts of bonus pay schemes and long vacations, especially in the bloated public sector, far above the sustenance level of their public income. How do you pay for that which you cannot afford? Especially if you are evading taxes, as many Greeks were.

    And so the bubble burst in 2010. That was the moment for ordinary Greeks to be counted. And that is where the Greeks failed themselves. Far too many of them failed to understand the simple economic truth that there no longer was money, and never had been for the generous schemes, and thus there was no real alternative, the bloated programs had to be cut down in size.
    The reaction of and from far too many Greeks was to blame everyone but themselves, reaching such heights of distaste in public protests as comparing Merkel to her Austrian predecessor. Instead of accepting personal responsibility, far too many Greeks chose to try and cling stubbornly to the generous schemes and programs. Instead of a sense of common good and responsibility far too many Greeks chose to fiercely defend their own interests, no matter how unrealistic or unearned or detrimental to the larger population. Especially those in the unions and in the public sector, seeing no reason to give up their bonus payments, early retirement age and so forth, which they felt were something they were entitled to. “I, the Greek, am entitled to this! And someone has to pay for it! Or I will protest!”

    And so they did. And because of the public opposition and many vested interests, rich and middeclass alike, Greek politicians never took the drastic measures needed. Didn’t follow through on promises, took 3 or 4 steps when 15 were neeeded. They didn’t do enough. If in 2010 Greece had immediately made much larger cuts to pensions, raised retirement age by 10 years, cut the public sector in size, levied taxes throughout the economy with no favouritism shown to any sector of the population, and with very strict policies on fighting tax evasion, then we would be in a significantly different situation today. The austerity would of been hard, yes, but there could of been prospects of economic growth, job creation and eventual stabilisation in sight.

    One Greek government following another dragged their heels in implementing the needed reforms. And not just corrupt vested interests, but protesting ordinary citizens supported them in acting so. When you say no to austerity, you say yes to more spending, but who is going to pay for the spending and on what and on whose terms? The Greeks protest “more money”, but how, from whom? Solidarity is a two way street. For solidarity you want co-operation, trust and reliability. Succeeding Greek governments have failed to provide that. It’s entirely unacceptable that after more than 5 years on, the European community are still demanding such reforms from Greece that the Greeks promised to implement when the first aid mechanisms were agreed upon.

    And it became considerably worse with Syriza (it’s incredible when you think of it). In short their election promise was “we will give you more money”. The question repeats itself, whose money, how, on what terms, on whose terms? The voters who believed the impossible and may I say immoral promises, in the sense of unearned entitlement, those Greek voters must carry part of the blame.
    With Syriza the negotiations between Greece and EU became chaotic, and what little trust there had been with previous governments eroded. This culminated in the popular referendum, that the Greek citizens saw as a Yes/No vote for austerity. And they voted against austerity. Overwhelmingly. The jovial, dancing, celebrating Greeks in Athens, who voted no, and who according to polls yet want to stay in the Euro, what do they propose? They demand an end to austerity, but the end to austerity is the equivalent someone paying. It feels like devious blackmail, pay us, give us money or the European project will be damaged. Even as a skeptic of the European project, it feels morally totally unacceptable.

    Who do the Syriza supporters and Oxi-voters propose that will pay for the public sector jobs etc. etc. that Syriza have promised them? I do agree, that in 2010 the German and French banks should of carried a bigger part of the blame and the costs. The bailouts were morally wrong. But today Greece own money to other European countries via different mechanisms. And in cutting those loans lay two moral hazards, first it would send a signal to other eurozone countries that you don’t need to pay your debts, resulting in a highly negative market impact and second it would reward Greece for lack of responsibility. It would reward blackmail.

    It is hard for the Greeks who are not to blame for the mess. But to those Greeks who feel tax evasion is right, entitlement is right, spending more than you earn is right, demanding others pay it when you no longer can yourself, to those Greeks this saga is a lesson they have deserved, a lesson in cultural and moral norms of a functioning economy. It is a hard lesson, but hopefully it will be learned.
    The Greeks seem to have no idea how many hundreds of millions of Europeans are sick of them blaming everyone but themselves, casting themselves as victims and calling it honour and dignity, while refusing to accept and carry self-responsibility.

    Here in Finland we are going through the worst economic crisis we have had since WWII even worse than the one we had in early-mid 1990’s. Back then we made drastic cuts to the public sector and today we are making drastic cuts to the public sector. We are even forced to cut benefits from children and the elderly, so excuse me, if many of us do not understand why we still should support the Greeks, when they themselves have failed to keep their promises, have failed to implement the needed reforms and have failed to realise, 61% in the last count, that they themselves have to accept and carry the responsibility to put an end to a bloated public sector, to pay their taxes and put an end to a culture of entitlement and corruption. Apologies to those Greeks who are innocent in this, but billions of dollars in aid cannot be targeted individually.

    I don’t think there’s any other option left but for the Greeks to leave the euro, and the sooner the better, and go their own way. European community have the responsibility to send food and medicines, if it comes to that, but no more (with the illegal immigration over Mediterranean being another issue, I’m not touching that here). The Greeks now are on their own, and it is a choice that was not forced on them, but a choice they made themselves as a nation. In a democracy, as are the citizens, so is the Nation.

    1. Lunarcy says:

      Your view is simplistic to say the least. You spent a lot of time writing a very long contribution, you might do well to spend some time reading and educate yourself around the full facts before you write another one.

      You and your friends may wish to submit to German rule but there are many in Europe, not just Greeks, who will not.

  22. Fred says:

    I am afraid it is really Germany against Greece. Europe is becoming a colony of Germany, Germany is the dictator. It has nothing anymore to do with One Europe. And Eastern European nations don’t want to accept migrants, they want to leave that problem for the Western European countries. But off course they like to receive all the transfers from the west to the east. But share burden… Not at home.
    This is the current state of Europe , I hope people realize it. There is n future with out political union and political union just means Germany as the main contributors dictates.

  23. Con Deka says:

    Simon, in order to understand what is going on check out the latest Keiser report on RT
    Episode 782 & Crosstalk.
    P.S. “Greek banks” are not Greek but branches of German, Franch and Dutch banks.

  24. William Davison says:

    I take issue with the comments above, BBC with exception of Robert Preston is not reporting Greece fully. Outside of the Guardian and Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in the Telegraph nether is much of the rest media. bbc interviews appeared to favour anti Greek government.

    The IMF report that Greek debt was unsustainable should be main focus of media reporting and embrassed the euro group, but it’s almost been ignored.

    Northern European politians lead by Germans CDU have claimed they want Greece to stay in Euro, but it’s plain to see that this was not true, as without debt restructuring it was never going to work and if Marx, Keynes, Friedman were alive to today they would all agree. It’s little do with economic dogma , it’s just the numbers don’t add up. They have negotiated in bad faith and many in Europe particularly the French and Itallian now see that. Yanis Varoufakis said he thought they were not interested in deal from fairly early on, as when ever he discussed reforms they looked bored.

    The comments above play along with the lasy Greek narrative from German media and sometimes even bbc. For example why is there so little coverage of the fact Goldman Sachs fiddled the figures to get Greece in the Euro with the previous governments now in opposition. Why does no one point out the Germans are refusing to offer Greece they same deal they were offered in 1953 -The debt write-off behind Germany’s ‘economic miracle’
    http://www.france24.com/en/20150129-london-agreement-1953-debt-write-germany-economic-miracle-greece-austerity

  25. Naya Koutroumani says:

    Paul Mason says what every decent person would say. He has been close to us Greeks from the beginning and his passion for justice is touching to us all.

  26. Mark O'Reilly says:

    Paul,

    I would like to thank you. Thank you for taking a rounded view of what Europe (and in particular, Germany) is doing to the Greek people and its economy.

    The agenda is clear: Germany (and most western economists) want Greece out? Why..? because they are intent on kicking the can of the sovereign debt crisis down the road.

    They (the ECB, IMF and other ‘creditors) cannot allow Greece to set a precedent on debt write down. They have to play hard ball. They have to keep the illusion of the Euro going or face contagion and currency collapse.

    But it is a fruitless game. They are playing out the dying fly of the Euro economy.

    Interest rates and bond values have been manipulated down by central banks, in order to keep the show on the road. Sooner or later, the ‘haircut’ (espoused by many EU ‘economists’) must be felt by all the creditors that weighed in (via eurobonds) to try and keep the bubble from bursting and in the hope that they would see significant returns on their gamble..

    As for the comment on ‘public service broadcasting’, given the tripe we are fed by other channels. who tow the ‘party line’ on blaming the Greeks for this situation, you provide a refreshing, insightful and honest appraisal of what is happening and why.

    Too many people these days are quick to blame. Often, they lack the compassion needed to truly understand the problem needed to find a solution.

    I doubt I am alone in wanting to extend my thanks for your work and courage in calling it, as it is..

    Leave the BBC to public service broadcasting, and all that that entails. Continue to put your message out there and let the naysayers say what they will..

    I take my hat off to you.

    Thank you

  27. J. Barrington Jackson says:

    Simon Hunter’s comment is correct. Mr. Mason has lost objectivity.

  28. sandie says:

    Iam writing becuse of the two comments abve. Paul Mason, your doing a fine job and you are gahering a following.

  29. Richard Stevens says:

    I see your point of view, George. However there aren’t many broadcasters rooting for Greece and maybe Paul has unwittingly sought to redress the imbalance. However we choose to look at this situation, it is a tragedy. Out of desperation the Greeks voted in a government that would have stood little chance in normal times. Yet for Greece there has been no normal for six years, longer probably…back to the start of those earlier ‘halcyon’ days when Greece had joined a common currency which was really the Deutschmark or the Franc with a different name. Somehow the people’s mindset was distorted with that of the government which had been fiddled into the new Eurozone.

    There is little doubt that Greece was not fiscally ‘ready’ for the euro so perhaps it was remiss of the brainpower of northern Europe not to bother to question to pressingly Goldman Sachs’ figures. The fact that they didn’t was indicative of their political determination to enlarge the Eurozone at whatever price. This whatever price mentality was sufficient to encourage the Greek government to spend money like water on things the Germans wanted to sell them.

    So encouraged, the Greek people jumped on the ‘whatever-price’ bandwagon. Before long Greece was flooded with German cars and its shops were stacked with products they had managed without in the drachma days. Even the supermarkets were offering breakfast cereals which preyed upon Greek kids’ unknown ‘sweet teeth’. It was like offering first stage drugs at the school playground in the expectation the experimentors would move on to the hard stuff.

    If a pusher stands at the school gates with his brand of magic, we do not blame the naive for becoming involved…we entirely blame the pusher. Thus those that pushed Greece to spend, the arms manufacturers, the banks, the international dealers and big business should look to themselves and see what misery they have cause to a proud but simpe people by their actions.

    Let Greece return gently to the drachma and once again fill its wonderous land with tourists…they will recover after a period of extended cold turkey, as they learn to be Greeks again instead of some extension of a European ideal.

  30. Izzie says:

    #Grextemporary looks better by the second after seeing those 12 proposals.

  31. Terry smith says:

    Thank you again for another informed post. If it wasn’t for your balanced analysis a lot of us would be in the dark. Great journalism.

  32. Stamatis Kavvadias (Σταμάτης Καββαδίας) says:

    I completely agree on the single-sided view of this article and that the opposite view should also be presented.
    Nevertheless, your view of others that bail out Greece, even poorer nations, is biased, as it implies they havee been giving up money, which they do not; they stand to make profits, at the moment.

    The inability of the Greek economy to fulfill on these profits should have been expected. The hit taken by the Greek economy, magnified to avert a wide-range EZ banking system crisis, is to be appreciated a little bit more.

    The discussion over current micro-political constraints, is the result of 5 months of embattled race to balance single-sided economic doctrines, inadequacy of European politics and in face of the current endgame. Taking sides has also to do with a feeling of justice, although I accept that, forgetting the beginning of the crisis –as well as anything further in the past of Europe– northern Europeans have their own sovereign rights that should be respected.

  33. Susan Duffy says:

    I used to always watch Channel 4 news, I thought the foreign news coverage was the best there is. But since you, Mr. Mason started reporting from Greece, I have given up watching. I have never seen more partisan reporting in my life, I can only assume you are a paid up member of Syriza. It’s always amusing to count how many times you manage to say “humiliiating”. As an Irish person who has been through it here I know how much we craved balanced, accurate information from the media. I read websites from many european countries as well as Greece, where many people are very critical of you.You do everyone a disservice with this hysterical reporting and I ask myself if you know what the role of a journalist actually is.

  34. Vladislav Shabalin says:

    The Rape of Europa – Mechanical sound installation by Vladislav Shabalin / 2015.
    

According to Greek mythology, Europa was kidnapped by Zeus in the form of a bull. He carried the maiden across the sea to the isle of Crete, where he revealed his true identity and tried to ravish her, but she resisted. Zeus then turned himself into an eagle and managed to overpower her. Europa being abducted by the god is represented in the Greek 2 euro coin.
The story of Europa, kidnapped and eventually raped (the myth probably referred to an invasion of Crete by Hellenic tribes), can serve to illustrate the current situation of the continent that was named after her. Until about twenty years ago, Europe was perceived as the centre of culture, art, science, business. All this is gone now. Europe has bent to the interests of multinational corporations and to the White House’s foreign policy, it has been actively involved in the American folly of “exporting democracy” through war, in Afghanistan and in the Middle East. Now Europe is slipping back into cold war with Russia, paying it dearly. Today, Europe is the crisis, unemployment and widespread poverty. Racism, nationalism and even neo-Nazi parties are growing in many European countries. Greece, the cradle of European civilization, has been violated, humiliated, despoiled. Which country will be next? Portugal, Italy, Spain?
The beautiful white bull of the myth appears to me these days as a fierce T-Rex, the maiden Europa as a sex doll, and the European Union international anthem “Ode to Joy” sounds vaguely sinister.
    VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GE-0rRztfPM

  35. Philip Edwards says:

    Odd, that – not one mention of a “far right” European government or the “far right” IMF/ECB crew.

    This tragic saga is going the way I forecast it would. It will happen again to somebody else at some future time. Unless the European Left organises itself right across the continent……once that happens, the writing is on the wall for capitalist thieves and gangsters.

    Meanwhile we’ll get the kind of sophist nonsense that benefits nobody but the “technocrats” (read: same old banker robbers).

    As the great and good Pastor Dietrich Boenhoffer said, “I stopped arguing with the Nazis when they became too stupid to argue with.” The same thing can be said about the bankers and their apologists and propagandists.

  36. Charles Lucy says:

    It’s not really such a difficult Greek problem to solve:
    Greece should adopt “Can’t pay, won’t pay”
    Follow Iceland’s example.
    Introduce a new currency backed by and based on crypto, e.g. BitCoin.
    Crowd fund for the capital required
    Let the creditors take a total “haircut” for attempting to collect an odious debt (In international law, odious debt, also known as illegitimate debt, is a legal theory that holds that the national debt incurred by a regime for purposes that do not serve the best interests of the nation, should not be enforceable.)

  37. Robert Long says:

    Germany are desperate to distract from their part in creating this mess. They broke the EU budget rules first; they turned a blind eye to Greece’s PREVIOUS government’s corruption; they allowed their banks to make unrealistic loans; they allowed those loans to be underwritten by the ECB. Now that the Greeks have no money left, they want to blame everything on them. The truth is that Greece has been robbed by Germany.

  38. Tim says:

    Why have the greeks refused to implement basic economic reforms? Oecd Toolbox ONE is still not done. This covers such radical reforms as Sunday trading and allowing more bakeries to open. It is the greeks who have done only austerity. Nine out of ten Euro group demands are for job-creating reforrms, not one of them new and none of them done.

  39. Carey says:

    “The Northern Europeans and the Eastern Europeans have a case too” :
    As you can see from replies, a great many of us “Northern Europeans” are appalled by what Troika and the EU Finance Ministers for whom Ms Merkel has assumed the position of “mouthpiece” are doing to the Greek people via its negotiations with Syriza. PM is merely acknowledging our concerns,. So please dont include me/us in your generalisation of “Northern Europeans”. There is a very large petition on Avaaz which is specifically addressed to Ms Merkel and Troika on the issue if you want to have a look https://secure.avaaz.org/en/stand_with_greece_loc_eu/?tryBTbb
    It contains many many German signatures and people from all over northern Europe, PM is referring to the Gvt of Germany, not Germany per say, as I’m sure you must know!

  40. mervyn johnson says:

    The comments by the ‘Finns Party Supporter’ has summed it up pretty much to as good as it gets.
    All journalists have a tendency to report with a bias, that’s just a human emotional trait.
    And as for this Greek situation, everyone has a view point, whether bias one way or another. However. there has been very little in neutral offerings that can table a pure logical solution, which doesn’t involve emotional blackmail and yet resolve this crisis.

  41. mikem1 says:

    European Union and Democracy – isn’t that an oxymoron?

  42. Barrnton says:

    It’s not about Democracy nor Europe using financial blackmail against Greece. It’s simply that nations using the Euro do not have a their own currency to float in a free market, so imbalances between the Euro dollar economies have no way to self adjust. And Greece has a proclivity for spending more than their economy produces.

    So it’s necessary for other member nations to insist on reforms to encourage productivity growth, and tone down the socialism that requires spending other people’s money.

    If there’s any consolation to Greeks, it’s the notion that other countries are no better. The United States is also overspending, and will one day have it’s “Greek Reformation Day”.

Comments are closed.