Varoufakis: Greek deal was a coup d’état

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

Ig­nor­ing the will of the peo­ple by pur­su­ing un­pop­u­lar aus­ter­ity poli­cies plays into the hands of Europe’s ex­treme right, ac­cord­ing to Yanis Varoufakis and Ar­naud Mon­te­bourg.

“Fakis, Fakis,” the mil­i­tant so­cial­ists chanted in Frangy-en-Bresse, in France, on Sun­day. The an­nual ‘Fête de la Rose’, a gath­er­ing regularly at­tended by France’s for­mer fi­nance min­is­ter Ar­naud Mon­te­bourg, has taken place since 1972.

It is tra­di­tional for this gath­er­ing of French so­cial­ists to in­vite one spe­cial guest; Fran­cois Hol­lande, Se­go­lene Royal and Pierre Moscovici, the cur­rent Euro­pean Com­mis­sioner for Eco­nomic Af­fairs, have been guests of hon­our in the past. But this year the event broke with tra­di­tion and in­vited a Euro­pean per­son­al­ity. Af­ter con­sid­er­ing Daniel Cohn-Ben­dit, the or­gan­is­ers de­cided to in­vite Greece’s charis­matic for­mer fi­nance min­is­ter, Yanis Varoufakis.

Once the scourge of the Eurogroup, the rock star economist Varoufakis was vis­i­bly de­lighted to be in the vil­lage of Frangy (dubbed Frangis in his hon­our), de­spite the rain, and to launch a fresh at­tack on Euro­pean lead­ers and the cur­rent Greek gov­ern­ment.

“What hap­pened on 12 July was a real coup d’état and a de­feat for all Euro­peans,” the for­mer fi­nance min­is­ter said, re­fer­ring to Greece’s ac­cep­tance of the harsh con­di­tions at­tached to the latest aid pack­age. A pack­age that also cost him his job as the coun­try’s min­is­ter of fi­nance. Sim­i­larly, Ar­naud Mon­te­bourg lost his job as French Min­is­ter of the Econ­omy ex­actly a year ago, af­ter openly crit­i­cis­ing the French gov­ern­ment’s aus­ter­ity poli­cies at the last year’s Fete de la Rose.

Varoufakis stood down as the Greek fi­nance min­is­ter at the be­gin­ning of the sum­mer and has since been a vo­cal op­po­nent of the ex­tra aus­ter­ity mea­sures im­posed on Greece by the coun­try’s cred­i­tors. Eurogroup fi­nance min­is­ters ac­cepted a new aid pack­age for Greece on Au­gust 14, on the con­di­tion that Greece pri­va­tises more of its public sec­tor in­dus­tries and in­creases taxes. But Varoufakis, a pro­fes­sor of eco­nom­ics, be­lieves these mea­sures will do noth­ing to res­cue the ail­ing Greek econ­omy.

“I do not be­lieve the Septem­ber elec­tions can lead to an al­liance that will cre­ate the con­di­tions for an eco­nomic pol­icy that works for Greece,” Varoufakis warned. He said he was ‘torn’ by the split­ting of the Syriza party, although he was not of­fi­cially a party mem­ber.

Some 25 Syriza MPs an­nounced on Fri­day that they would form a new party, fol­low­ing the res­ig­na­tion of the Prime Min­is­ter, Alexis Tsipras, who hopes the elec­tions will give him a larger ma­jor­ity and a stronger man­date to en­act his plans.

The two ex-min­is­ters strived to high­light the dan­gers of con­tin­ued aus­ter­ity in Greece.

“With­out po­lit­i­cal union, the Eco­nomic and Mon­e­tary Union (EMU) is a big mis­take. Now that we have it, we must re­pair it. What we need to­day is a real com­mon in­vest­ment pol­icy, and a real bank­ing union,” the Greek economist said.

Varoufakis told EurAc­tiv that the emer­gence of an al­lied Euro­pean left, in op­po­si­tion to the cur­rent sys­tem, was a pos­si­bil­ity.

“I be­lieve that an al­liance of Euro­peans from across the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum, who share one rad­i­cal idea, the idea of democ­racy, is pos­si­ble,” he joked. “For 20 years, the prin­ci­ple of democ­racy has been tram­pled on in Europe. But it re­mains a com­mon idea. If we want to make the tran­si­tion to a demo­cratic Europe, we need to em­power the cit­i­zens, rather than the cur­rent car­tel of lob­bies.”

This view was shared by his host. Ar­naud Mon­te­bourg said, “Power is held by an oli­garchy in Europe.”

The or­gan­is­ers of the Fete de la Rose had hoped that the oc­ca­sion’s Euro­pean out­look would lead to the emer­gence of a new Euro­pean move­ment. But not a sin­gle MEP or rep­re­sen­ta­tive from the rad­i­cal left party was present. Even the French “rebels”, who openly crit­i­cise the gov­ern­ment, pre­ferred not to ap­pear along­side Yanis Varoufakis.

For Varoufakis, the Greek gov­ern­ment made a se­ri­ous mis­take in agree­ing to sell off as­sets and im­ple­ment re­gres­sive aus­ter­ity mea­sures. He be­lieves that the “Athens Spring” was crushed by the bankers, just as the Prague Spring was crushed by tanks.

“In 1929, there was a fi­nan­cial cri­sis af­ter the Wall Street Crash, which led to the loss of the gold stan­dard. Vot­ers aban­doned the left be­cause they were afraid. You know what hap­pened next. In 2008, we had the Wall Street cri­sis, which brought about a fi­nan­cial cri­sis and a eu­ro­zone cri­sis. But the lead­ers keep ap­ply­ing the same eco­nomic poli­cies. This cri­sis must not be al­lowed to re­sult in the rise of the ex­treme right,” Varoufakis warned, adding that the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party rep­re­sents a se­ri­ous threat in Greece.

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