A criminal attack on Greece

This is a statement from Left Unity’s executive committee. It is subject to ratification by the national council.

After five months of bullying and blackmail, the states and institutions of the European Union, led by its dominant power Germany, have forced a severe defeat on the government of Greece. This was a coup which overturned the democratic will of the people of Greece, expressed clearly in the majority OXI referendum vote, and undermined their national sovereignty.

In the early hours of 16 July the Greek parliament passed draconian austerity measures dictated to it by the European Union. These were measures passed as a condition of any further funding from the EU institutions and the IMF, simply in order to allow the state to meet its debt payments and re-open the banks. It marks the end of Greek sovereignty in its own financial affairs and reduces the country to semi-colonial status.

We stand with the people of Greece at this crucial time. We note the particular damage austerity does to the women and children of Greece. This deal represents a criminal attack by the European Union on Greece. German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble gave the Greek government an ultimatum – leave the euro right now and face immediate economic catastrophe, or stay as a prisoner of the creditors and manage a slow strangulation of your economy.

There were no good choices on offer. The negotiations that Syriza entered into in good faith were revealed as nothing but an exercise in dictating to Greece the terms of its surrender, imposing brutal measures reminiscent of the ‘structural adjustment programmes’ that have done, and are currently doing, so much damage in the global south especially today in Ghana and Jamaica.

The first two ‘bailouts’ led to a 25% drop in the Greek economy and this third one will cause further economic deterioration. It is not just a bad deal but an impossible one, as even some of Greece’s creditors admit.

The IMF revealed in a secret report on the deal that the Greek economy cannot survive without substantial writing off of its debts. This deal will not work, the IMF argues, and Greek debt would rise in the next two years to 200% of GDP. Almost all the new money (to be doled out in instalments in return for meeting impossible targets) will be used to pay back existing loans from the institutions (the ECB and IMF) and EU governments which were previously used to bail out private European banks mainly in France and Germany. Even a partial cancellation of the debt (a haircut) has been ruled out. Instead we have more of the ‘extend and pretend’ strategy denounced by Varafoukis when he first entered the negotiations in February.

We support the Greek people in their struggle against this new memorandum. While recognising the tremendous pressures that were brought to bear on the Syriza leadership to vote for the memorandum, we note that a majority of the central committee of Syriza called for the rejection of the deal, as did 39 Syriza members of parliament. An essential debate towards an alternative strategy is now taking place in Syriza and on the wider left in Greece. We support the call for the Central Committee of the party to convene to enable that discussion to take place throughout Syriza and the European left as a whole. There can be no solution to the economic problems facing the people of Greece through the implementation of the memorandum and further austerity measures, or simply by Grexit.

Since its election in January, the Syriza-led government has been caught in what has turned out to be an irreconcilable contradiction: it was elected on a platform of ending austerity while keeping Greece in the eurozone. That is what the people of Greece wanted – euro membership remains overwhelmingly popular in Greece, and parties pledging to end austerity through euro exit received small votes in comparison to Syriza. The Syriza leadership has now tested this strategy to destruction and proved that it is not possible to fulfil both parts of the mandate it was elected on.

The eurozone is exposed – more starkly than ever – as an anti-democratic, neoliberal austerity club, refusing to tolerate a challenge from a radical left government, knowing that concessions to Syriza would encourage the left across Europe, particularly in Spain and elsewhere in southern Europe.

The EU elite have recognised that this struggle is the frontline of their entire austerity project. We must do likewise. If they are allowed to get away with doing this to Greece, then we will all pay the price. We recognise the TTIP project to be another such anti-democratic instrument intending to remove the right of elected governments to oppose the power of the global conglomerates.

Left Unity will stand alongside all those opposing austerity in Greece and throughout Europe. We will not abandon the people of Greece or allow them to fight alone. Theirs is now a struggle for the basic rights of democracy, against the forces of neo-liberalism that are holding their economy – their food, their medicines, their homes – to ransom. The deal represents the overturning of their democratically expressed will and clarifies beyond any doubt that the EU project now represents the imposition of naked power relations rather than the social values which many have hoped for. Left Unity is committed to:

  • Its campaign against austerity here in the UK, in political forums, in social solidarity groups and in trade unions and in countering the propaganda of the Euro group in the media.
  • Its work at the heart of the Greece Solidarity Campaign. For nearly five years this campaign has worked with self-organising grass roots people’s organisations in Greece to help establish a network of social solidarity centres. It has sent thousands of pounds to medical clinics and forged links with the social movements across Greece, as well as building political solidarity through delegations and our own anti-austerity work in Britain. We will attempt to build direct links between our work in the cities and towns of the UK with other cities and towns across Greece and Europe. This work needs to be stepped up and we must build a pan-European solidarity movement, working with the European Left as far as possible, which acts in support of anti-austerity political parties and organisations across the continent.
  • Its commitment to our internationalist stance, standing firmly with European and wider campaigns against austerity, for environmental security, against racism and fascism, for the rights of women and against war.
  • We recognise that the balance of forces is heavily weighted in favour of the EU institutions, and powerful states like Germany, which have shown their contempt for democracy in Greece. Greece faced these institutions and powers alone, without support from other states or effective and powerful support from the labour and progressive movements across the continent.

    The threat by the European Central Bank to force the collapse of the Greek banking system was a blatant demonstration of the political role of that supposedly independent body which in reality constitutes a monetary dictatorship on behalf of financial interests across the European Union. We must build the kind of mass movement across Europe that can shift the balance of power against austerity. The Greek struggle is our struggle.

    The global elite have never been richer. The resources are available to provide a decent standard of living for all. Yet these riches are gathered for their sole use at the expense of the people, by the use of war, and by risking environmental catastrophe. We will work to the ending of the rule of the rich and for the economy and society to run in the interests of the peoples of Europe and the planet.

    Left Unity is active in movements and campaigns across the left, working to create an alternative to the main political parties.

    About Left Unity   Read our manifesto


    Events and protests from around the movement, and local Left Unity meetings.

    Sat 2 Mar, 9.30-17.00
    Confronting the Rise of the Far Right, European Conference

    Organised by Transform UK.

    Bloomsbury Central, 235 Shaftesbury Ave, London WC2H 8EP.

    Get tickets

    More events »


    Sign up to the Left Unity email newsletter.


    Get the latest Left Unity resources.

    Broadsheet: Trump, Brexit and the Global Far Right Surge

    Broadsheet: No One is Illegal!

    Transform journal

    More resources »